Thursday, January 17, 2008

how we need the yellow brick road

In my early 20s, when I first moved to the flat metropolis of Toronto, I worked in a big restaurant downtown near all of the major event venues, like theatres, the skydome, and the financial district. Originally I was hired as a hostess. The month I started they had some sort of oyster promotion going on and I had to wear a straw hat; a cross between a cowboy hat and a sombrero. Being from the east coast and wearing that hat, everyone at work called me Anne of Green Gables.

A long disjointed train of thought brought me back there this morning. I woke up and read blogs over coffee looking for some kind of external inspiration to write. I went for my notebook in my purse and was hit with a wave of the smell of southern barbecue from the restaurant I went to last night. The owner of the restaurant is a guy I used to work with in my restaurant days. Putting my bag outside on my balcony to air out, I recalled that time and how I did not bother to tell them I was not from Prince Edward Island. To people here, anything east is just east.

Neither did I correct them when the general manager gave me the keys to the whole place and put me in charge. I was 22 and I had no experience in the industry. I had never even served a table let alone managed wait staff and bartenders, but I did it, and that is how the owner of this restaurant remembers me. A restaurant manager.

Another little taste of oz I guess. It was hectic and when he brought me wine in a glass that was not just a little dirty, I made sure he was well out of earshot before I asked the bartender for a clean one.

This morning, there I was, with my notebook and my coffee, and I could not help but wonder if maybe a little bit of the wizard of oz is what keeps us all from falling apart. I mean to truly come to an understanding that no one is that big a deal and that no one has the could be catastrophic. All of the order in the world depends on it, on making each of us into more than just a well organized clump of pulsing leaking cells, either growing or rotting, depending on which side of the lifespan you happen to be on.

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