A Slice … of Life #sol18
Today was my bagel day. Don’t even…! The stress of bagel day is enormous. Did I get the right kind? Did I remember the cream cheese, the plates, the napkins, THE BUTTER? How many dozen am I suppose to get? Yikes… But this isn’t the story. Here’s the story.
Yesterday I called my local bagel place, just a half mile from my house, in between assessments and meetings. The first time I called there was no answer. The second time I called, a clearly harried worker answered. I placed my order for two dozen bagels to pick up at 7:00 am the next morning and oh, by the way, could you slice them? We cannot slice your bagels was the quick and, I thought, curt reply. Why? You have always sliced them for me before. On a Friday? A busy day? she said. She said they already had a big order and Friday mornings were too busy for them to slice the bagels. But she said she would ask. She left me sitting there for a few minutes. I could hear them talking and when she returned she said, we cannot slice the bagels for you. Ok, so I’ll pick them up earlier since I have to slice them. I’ll be there at 6:30.
Stewing about slicing bagels on the way home, I begin searching for a bagel slicer. Four stores later, I located one. I packed up my back up knife and I was ready for what came.
I left the house early and arrived at the bagel store about 6:30. The lone worker said the bagels weren’t ready yet and she couldn’t slice them until the other worker arrived in a few minutes. She was on her way. Wait, what? You’re going to slice them. No problem, I said, I can take them unsliced. Waiting for a few minutes, I began watching her work. Five or six people in line, she was doing everything: taking the order, whatever needed to be done to the bagel, coffee, ringing them up and… slicing all the bagels with a large knife.
It began to dawn on me that this wasn’t Panera or Einstein’s. This lone worker was doing it all. When the crowd cleared for a few minutes, she began to sort the bagels into a bag, uncut. I was ok with that, having a new admiration or sympathy to her plight. But then, she moved the bag over to the counter and began cutting the bagels one by one. You don’t have a machine to do that? I asked. No she said, no machine. But in minutes, she had them cut. I gave that woman a tip and a silent apology for all of the assumptions that I had made.
Her situation and work made me think about our daily work with students in classrooms. Sometimes I don’t have a metaphoric bagel slicer either, but I’m putting it together with chewing gum and good intentions. Just like this morning, it’s about 95% attitude for the work and 5% skill. Ok, even with bagel slicing, there’s some real skill to it, but the attitude pushed her and me as a bystander to a completely different place.
When we strip down the workshop, it’s really just about the work. A tried and true book that I know well stands in for a lot. A stickie, a scrap of paper, a marker, a white board and we’re off, slicing off skills just like the most experienced bagel cutters.
She didn’t think she could do it, she wouldn’t affirm that she would, but in the end, she did.