Friday, August 5, 2016

Egg Leather

Earlier today I walked into the cafe looking forward to my usual morning cooler, two fingers of lemonade, a twist of lime and water over ice. It looked like another hot one in Bluff, and I wanted to begin hydrating as soon as possible. Forecasters were predicting a high of 105 degrees for the fifth day in a row, and the resulting convected air would surely extract moisture from anything and everything that showed signs of life. With these temperatures it is best to top-off early and often, otherwise you might shrivel and petrify like the ancient wood and dinosaur bone commonly found in this area.

Entering the kitchen, I greeted our staff and was pleased to see everything was as it should be. Our compliment of cooks, dishwashers and servers were in place and working industriously, whipping-up our special Eggs Atsidi and Eggs Manuelito, and serving them to hungry guests. As I mixed my drink and bantered with the cooks one of our servers walked up and asked if I could check-in on the people at table 12. "Why?” I asked, "What's-up?" Kerri, who always wears a bright and appealing smile, projected something between a nervous grin and a grimace, overlaid with the beginnings of a twitch. "Well," she said, "there is a family of four on that table and we can't seem to get their food right." "No worries," I said, putting aside my drink, "I will take care of that."
Barry, Kerri, and Justin

Confidently I strode toward the table, taking-in the overall situation as I went. The foursome consisted of a mother and father in there 40s, a daughter who looked to be about twelve and a son of close to fifteen years. The father and children appeared fidgety and on edge as the woman stabbed at her food aggressively. Walking up to the table, I asked if there was a problem with their meal. The kids bowed their heads in embarrassment, while the father pushed back his chair, lifted his head and exhaled loudly. The mother, however, let me know just what the issues where. Pointing to her husband and daughter she said, "We are disappointed, his pancakes are cold, the milk for her oatmeal is warm and my scrambled eggs are too moist; I ordered my eggs dry." "I can fix this," I assured them and went back into the kitchen.

Taking the coldest milk from the back of the refrigerator I poured it into a stainless steel container and placed it directly under the fan in the freezer. Next, I ordered-up a new plate of pancakes and extra dry scrambled eggs and told Justin, our cook to, "Make it snappy, because we had unhappy guests." He went right to work and had the order out fast. The hot cakes were steaming; the milk ice cold and the eggs dry as toast. I placed everything on a tray and delivered them myself, feeling proud of our speed and efficiency. "Ah wonderful," said the man. "Perfect!" said the girl. "Still wet!” said the woman poking at her eggs. Three members of the family ducked their heads in embarrassment, while the fourth, the woman, looked me directly in the eye and in a peeved voice said, "Take two eggs, crack them onto the grill, break their yokes and cook them, cook them hard!" "Got it," I replied and headed back into the kitchen to relay the message.

Steve and I and our managers Marc and Lori are known to be sensitive to the wants and needs of our customers and do our best to make them happy. This woman, however, was putting my patience to the test. I went back into the kitchen and relayed the angry woman's message to Justin. He complied perfectly and handed me the 3rd plate. As I looked upon those eggs my mind flashed-back to when Steve and I were young barefoot boys roaming the graveled streets of Bluff. Just to the south of our family’s property, in the old Jens Neilson home, dwelt a bent and miserly woman we knew as Mrs. Bourne. She was a woman of indeterminable age and immense ingenuity. I recalled the day Steve and I watched her cut heavy duty strips of leather upper from an old boot she had dug from someone's trash can and fashion hinges for her dilapidated gate. Through the years we learned many similar lessons from Mrs. Bourne. Flashing back to the present and the eggs on the plate, I was reminded of those leather hinges.
Egg Leather and Hammered Nails

Twenty minutes later I found myself sitting upon the rock bench on the front porch flicking ice chips to the thirsty lizards hot footing it back and forth along the concrete walkway. I watched as the family snapped photos of the Sunbonnet and Twin Rocks then pile back into their high mileage Plymouth, preparing for departure. The young girl waved through the side window as they drove off into the heat waves emanating from the asphalt, while the woman left me with an icy stare. I picked-up my dilapidated hammer and began straightening rusty nails. Looking to the plate of fried eggs resting next to me I wondered how they would hold-up as hinges on our now busted gatepost behind the trading post. I was about to find out because, like Mrs. Bourne I hated to waste anything and hinges were about all this egg leather would be good for anyway.

With warm regards from Barry Simpson and the team;
Steve, Priscilla and Danny.

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