Sometimes the Yolk Breaks

2013-May-2 -> from the we've-all-had-one-of-those-days department Tags: anecdotes 

Before I was a programmer, and long before I was an author, I spent some time cooking short order in a restaurant. Four years to be exact. The pay wasn't great, and it was sweltering work, slaving over a hot grill for hours a day, but it was rewarding, because people loved the food I cooked. It wasn't until many years later that I would discover some of the lessons I learned while I worked there.

Most of the food I cooked there was breakfasts. Bacon, ham, sausage, and eggs in every way you can imagine. I went into this role knowing next to nothing, and due to a family illness, ended up in over my head faster than you can say "sink or swim".

Under those conditions, you learn fast, or you lose customers.

I'm a naturally fast learner, so I picked up the techniques for cooking the various styles of eggs quickly, but it was only a matter of time before something went wrong. Now and then, when you broke an egg on the grill, the yolk would break the second it hit the heat. When you've gotten into a groove, and everything is lined up in your head, this can be a real challenge.

Suddenly, I have five breakfasts at various levels of completion, and there's sticky, gooey yolk running all over my hot grill, threatening to contaminate my pancakes, or pollute my hashbrowns. Not to mention the fact that I can't very well send an egg with a broken yolk out to a customer who has ordered their eggs over-easy.

What do I do with this egg with the broken yolk? How do I cope with the fact that my smooth running train of thought is now more like a train wreck? There are customers relying on me to get their breakfasts right, and I'm now making a mess of things. If you've ever had a breakfast at a restaurant that wasn't exactly to your specifications, you'd know how important it is to get things right. Nothing ruins a day faster than a poorly made breakfast.

How did I cope with it? The first time it happened, there was a brief moment of panic, and then I realized, that all I really had to do was crack another egg to take the offending egg's place. If it wasn't too busy, I would finish cooking the egg and set it aside for one of the employees to eat later on a sandwich or something. If it was really busy, I would scrape it into the trash, and start over. Take a deep breath, reorganize my thoughts, put the train back on the track, and move on.

Every morning, when I get up, it's my responsibility to get my daughters breakfast. This is in part because I have so much experience cooking breakfast foods, and in part because I'm the first person out of bed every day. I sometimes make my girls fried eggs and toast. I always strive for the perfect over-easy egg because they like to dip the toast in the warm yolk. On one particular day, one of the yolks broke, and I lacked the patience to cook another, so I served it, as-is, to my oldest daughter.

Suffice it to say, she was unhappy with this situation. This seemed like a good time for an important life lesson, so I told her, "Sometimes the yolk breaks. Get over it, and move on."

It may seem a little cold at first, but imagine a world where everybody dwells on the trivial little hang-ups in life. Everybody would be bitter, and nobody would ever accomplish anything. One of the greatest life lessons I learned from my breakfast cooking days was to move on from the little things, because you can always crack another egg.

If you're an indie author in the publishing kitchen, like me, always keep this in mind. Yolks will break, but keep going no matter what. Success comes to those who persist through adversity, and trust me, throughout your journey, you're going to break a lot of yolks.

Thanks for reading!

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