Hum Along, Now

Before lifting up a happy concession window at precisely 11 a.m. this morning, there was a tap at the door a few minutes prior. Standing pleasantly before me was Christine – a regular customer who happened to need her plain cheese-steak earlier than usual. No explanation needed. She was hungry, my grill was hot, and the morning was ready for our food-friendship. As she walked away to wait in her car and I began to prepare the sauntery steak, I began to wonder …. “hmmm”, I muttered under my all ready to go breath.

Why today? Why not an evening plain cheese-steak after a hard day’s shift at the local box box retailer where she works? This was odd. Certainly there was no need for Christine to explain her off-schedule appearance to me. I am not my customers’ keeper, after all. Sitting here on a wooden stool, counting the beginnings of a hopefully busy day, does make one question, however.

Behind me stands a Beverage*Air sandwich unit that never has to explain itself or question why it’s here.

This cool piece of equipment goes about its day never complaining … always allowing me the privilege of reaching, underneath, into 35-degree shelving area for crisp lettuce, dill-ishous kosher pickles, cheeses, reduced fat chocolate milk, two pampered pepper varieties, and much more. Above the shelves are 12 drop-in, wonderfully heightened, pans 3-feet from the floor. At the perfect distance for my 6-foot frame, these metal and plastic containers go about their day hugging diced tomatoes, onions, relish, jalapenos, banana peppers, and various heterogeneous hamburger toppings. All together equipped it is … to serve as a cog in the machinery that is my sound business model: Customers want quality food, I make and serve it, …. then collect money for my service. “Quality, Service, Cleanliness” … as we used to say at McDonald’s back in the day.

My friend hums along. I noticed this a few minutes ago. Its unique murmur catches my attention as I begin to consider, “Why today?”. Christine is well beyond enjoying her cheese-steak by now as I sit here waiting for customers to arrive. It’s been fifteen minutes. They’ll eventually come. A Saturday – even on a cold January day – will attract enough appetites toward my pleasurable, replenishment poles, so I won’t worry too much about sitting in isolated conditions for long.

For now, as it hums, I “Hmmm?” . Without U, of course. Why Today?

Well, you’re here reading this … now, but not here … now as I write. Quite the mind-bender, huh? I don’t mean to make this difficult. Simply, I wonder why today, or any other day, did and event – or two, or three – happen out of place, or time?

Wednesday, a young lady accidentally ran her car into the pole in front of my location. No major injuries to her but the car she drove sustained a major bruise half way up into its engine block. On Thursday, smoke billowed from behind the pharmacy across the street. So large a fire, it was nearly eight blocks away but appearing much closer. Two unrelated events. Two happenings out of place causing me to two-finger my chin and go, “hmmm?” before considering a Saturday musing.

There aren’t any easy answers. My years of studying the other side of “why?” have produced no results. The young lady was most likely texting and, according to the paper, young kids were playing with fire and strong winds had other ideas. I’m not questioning the A-side causes, just the flip-side timing of things in life seems a bit wonky to me. On the B side of the why album is where I find life to be a bit scratchy and tougher to listen to.

Life should hum along easily, but doesn’t at times. Most times, actually, some wacky scratch in our present day recording causes the big needle to skip … and backwards time flies often to repeat the same mistake, make us listen to another of life’s motives we didn’t quite hear the first time, or, perhaps, a small how-do-you-do five minutes before opening up a concession stand. Why today? Hmm?

I had a friend once say to me, “There’s never a good time for bad news, and never a bad time for good news.”. That’s too idealistic and catch-all-ian for me. Surely there must me some room in here for other answers … not just absolute, never good or bad times.

I wish U were here to help me hum along in life as I sit hmm-ing my way. Customers have yet to place their orders and I’m gratefully calm, still. Somewhere on this cold Saturday, there are appetites churning about in the small mom and pops and large box stores, homes, and cars, … moms and dads, kids and teens, retired folks and travelers – some not knowing, yet, they will be here soon. My regulars and first-timers allowing me the privilege of serving up a steamy cheese-steak for them with melted provolone and, perhaps a line of mayo – topped with fresh grilled peppers and onions straight from my Beverage*Air friend behind me as I type.

… Always there, humming along – as you are here – even if only in a 2-dimensional space during a different now. Why today? I have no clue.

Thanks for your company today and being the U in my “Hmmm?”. Hum along, now.

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