About a month ago, much to my parents’ dismay (because they wanted me to work for them), I got a job as an omelet chef in the Helaman Halls Cafeteria. It doesn’t take a lot of brain power or concentration with pre-mixed eggs, pre-seasoned pans, and pre-chopped vegetables. It isn’t ideal and doesn’t pay very much, but it’s a way to get some extra cash during the hours that I would otherwise spend over-sleeping anyway.
With all that extra time to stew (or omelet) I have been planning to write a column about the lessons that this job has taught me for weeks. I thought to write about the importance of deciding you’re important even when you have a job where people don’t even look at you as they pass. I thought to write about the politics in the omelet kitchen and my egg-inspired realization that I have issues with authority that I need to work through.
I could do a whole article just on my mastery of the hokusai (the big wave) when tossing vegetables in the pan or on my failure to master the 18-inch omelet flip. I thought to write about the fact that one of the first times I flipped the omelet successfully, a passerby excitedly asked if I had ever messed up or dropped one. Oh, the unassuming nature of the Cannon Center ‘s innocent bystanders.
But my shift in the kitchen today taught me a lesson that trumped all the other silly making-a-life-lesson-out-of-a-green-onion’ ideas I had thought up to this point. My partner in crime is a girl I have been working with for only about a week now, but in that time I’ve learned that she is from North Carolina, easy-going, confident and in love with the game of basketball. She seems like the kind of person who is never fazed by anything; she just adjusts and goes on always with a quizzical smile on her face.
This morning, in the middle of all the totally random music that acts as the musical score of our culinary lives; the song, You’re Beautiful by James Blunt started to play. I have mixed feelings about this song, as it reminds me of my dark past as a singing telegram and people tend to hate it, but she started to sing with it, so I didn’t say anything.
After a few moments she said that she had once danced with a boy in the rain to this song. It sounded so romantic as she described all the details of that romantic and stormy night, but it confused me since I knew this couldn’t have been the same boy she’d been complaining about since we started working together.
I finally asked what had happened to him, and she said, “Oh, he passed away in a car accident about a week after that night.” I was absolutely shocked that this girl who was so pleasant and seemed so untouched by hard things could have such a blaring tragedy marring the happiness of her life.
This hit me especially hard, because as I’ve grown up, I’ve shed all of the fears I had as a child like leaves. I’m no longer afraid of water, spiders—there went heights and rollercoasters. I’m not even fazed by scary movies anymore (that is a relative statement). My fears are down to just one; to fall in love and then lose him to disaster. The thought of it brings me to tears, and even with the knowledge of eternal families, I subconsciously add to my prayers at night that the Lord will know what I can handle…and what I can’t.
But here is this girl I’ve been working with for weeks and she hasn’t broken down weeping or called in sick without being sick. Her countenance never even felt heavy, like she was carrying some weight on her heart. Rather than moping or stop living her life, she had this boy’s temple work done a year later and moving happily forward. I somehow never thought it was possible to bounce back from that kind of thing. So, the greatest lesson I’ve learned from the omelet kitchen is in part the lesson that Robert Frost was taught about life; it goes on. But it doesn’t just go on and life isn’t just breathing and surviving; it can be progressing and thriving and living after the manner of happiness even when your life dictates that you shouldn’t.