Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cuts and Burns

I started in the restaurant business when I was 14. I bussed tables at a restaurant, 'The Original Mexican Cafe' on 3rd & Broadway in Denver. The year was 1972. A taco plate was $4.95 (or somewhere in that area). I remember one night going into the attic to find some plates and I ran across some old menus. From 1942. The offerings really hadn't changed. Only the prices. The Taco plate in 1942 was 75 cents. I worked Friday and Saturday night. From 6pm to 3:30am. I rode my bicycle home. It was a most peaceful ride.
My next job was cooking chicken at 'Chicken Unlimited'. At 15 years old, I still had to ride my bike. The difference between this job and busing tables was the hot grease. When I was busing tables I may have gotten my butt pinched by a drunk, but when I was cooking chicken, I got my hand fried just like the bird. I was young and didn't listen. Three Hundred and Sixty Five degree oil burns. Burns. I had just taken a batch of birds out of the grease dip and went to wipe the rim of the fryer. In my total carelessness, my hand slipped and took a little swim in the hot oil. You know what I said. Screamed, actually. But I toughed it out. It wasn't that bad. A couple of little blisters formed and the pain was pretty much gone by the end of the night. Then I had to ride my bike home. No gloves. The blisters decided to pop on the handle bars. The pain returned. I decided right there and then if I was to stay in this job/business, I had to handle the burns. And for all those years I did. Many burns, many cuts. A few stitches. Some burn cream. After many years I learned how not to cut or burn myself. Live and Learn. That I did. When I finally realized what could happen and that I could prevent it by being careful, well, I became careful. My first 8 years in the restaurant business, many cuts, many burns. My second 8 years. Almost none.
What does any of this have to do with the Tamale Shoppe? Well, yesterday I got my first cut and first burn at the Shoppe. They were both small. Minor. But today they hurt. And all those memories came back. But in those memories, those burns and cuts didn't hurt. Why did they hurt now? Am I becoming a wimp? Maybe they just hurt. I'll be fine tomorrow. They'll be healed and I'll be fine. But I will remember to be careful. I will remember that I was once young and 'wild'. Now I'm a bit more (a lot more) cautious. At least when it comes to hot equipment and knives. But I'll never be careful about my passions. This is one of them.

No comments: