Today, I'm returning for my second weekly shift at Katzinger's Delicatessen. I will bring your sandwich to your table between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. today.
Of course, now that I have already worked a full two-and-a-half-hour shift — last Friday at lunch — I am An Expert On All Things Delicatessen, Food Service, And Culinary.
To wit, I shall now share some of my observations:
- "Delicatessen" is different. As we drive around our wasteland, we see all sorts of small sandwich shops that call themselves "deli." No! If knifing mayonnaise on corned beef (please don't do that) makes you a deli, then I'm the Duke of Cornbread. A delicatessen is much more complex and requires much more expertise (and inventory) than your local sandwichmonger. Keep driving. To here. And please don't call Katzingers a "deli." It's a delicatessen.
- On that note, you have no idea how expert the people are behind the counter. Look at your sandwich. Consider your expectations. Now calculate your happiness. That isn't easy to achieve, sandwich after sandwich. These folks are grabbing, weighing, piling, toasting, schmearing, wrapping, and so much more at an unconscious pace. (And pretty darn cheerfully, I might add with admiration. Your Reuben has good karma.) You simply can't imagine the skill, experience and care that is going into your #11. And the folks at the cheese counter know more about cheese than I do about my own children. (Then again, I've never sliced my children.)
- Pickles are expensive food. Busing tables, I see that some folks have taken pickles as if they were building a centerpiece. The rule is simple: take one pickle from the barrel with your sandwich. No sandwich? No pickle. Eat the pickle. All the way to the end. You think they grow on trees? (Uh, maybe they do.) Doesn't matter. They cost upwards of 50¢ each, so eat the damn pickle. Didn't your mother tell you about wasting food? There's a difference between free and a gift. This is a gift. Don't be a pig.
- Speaking of expense, these high-priced sandwiches are a bargain. Think about it. If the same ingredients were spread all over a plate, instead of on a slice of bread (trucked in daily from Pittsburgh), and placed on a tablecloth with a candle, you'd be paying $25 for that meal. (Don't argue with me. That's a fact. The quality of the ingredients is that high.) Quitcherbitchen. You get more than what you pay for.
Oh, and one more observation. It has do to with a long-running conversation I enjoy with Diane Warren, the owner of Katzingers. The conversation includes me snarking: "What's your exit strategy? Do you expect to be carried out of the delicatessen? Will we wrap your corpse like a knish and deliver you to Epstein's in the delivery van?"
After working a day in the delicatessen, I think that conversation is about me wanting to get out of my old job — not Diane needing to get out of her delicatessen.
Because now I completely understand why she would want no exit strategy. After all, what would a great retirement be? Forget retirement. What is heaven?
Heaven is working with beautiful, skilled people feeding the world simple, delicious meals.
That's heaven, isn't it?
If not, what do you think heaven is?
So, anyway, who wants an exit strategy for heaven?