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Working with Brenden

Updated: Feb 12, 2020



Brenden quietly works in the kitchen as the morning light casts a mystic glow on him and his workspace. “Good Morning, Brenden,” I say. A slight pause, “Good Morning,” he says softly.


Brenden is talented and can easily prepare many of Fig Cafe favorites: lemon poppyseed waffle batter, fig vinaigrette, and chimichurri, to name a few. I really respect how Brenden does what he does. There is a mindfulness quality to his work. For example, when he tenderly picks thyme leaves off the stems for the Foccacia recipe, it is as though, I am watching a master gardener tend to his Bonzai tree. How does he do it?


Another noticeable quality of Brenden is his patience and impeccable timing. Brenden works methodically, calmly and in a timely manner that seems unwavering. Simply stated: Brenden knows how to be busy & on task without seeming busy, something I have only seen in a few.


Today, due to scheduling and a busy cafe, Brenden and I are needed in back of house to do the dishes, aka The Dish Pit. This is a first, for both of us. And with the holiday hustle and bustle vibe in the air, I wonder how our little buddha will do. “Good Morning, Brenden” “Do you remember my name?” He says, “Ann.” Yes, great! We make eye contact, a little longer this time. He smiles. Oh my gosh, I’d never seen him smile before - he lights up like a star on top of a Christmas tree! Wow!


I tell Brenden that instead of baking or cooking today, we are going to work together and do the dishes. He’s ok with that. But since Brenden doesn’t usually do dishes, I need to breakdown the dishwashing steps for him. He listens and I redirect him to the visual prompts on the wall posted at each station for extra support. He is still attentive. I close by letting him know we’re a team today and then ask, “Are you ready?” He looks at me, nods, and smiles. He lights up again. We’re ready!


I grab the tub of dirty dishes from the front of house, buss, soak, and rinse the various plates and glasses and place them in the gray tub for an easy transfer to the dishwasher machine. I give a hearty shout-out down the dishline, “OK, Brenden, the tub is ready, come-n-get it.” Brenden hears me and seamlessly steps up the dish line towards me and gets the gray tub. He takes the tub back to the dishwashing machine station and unloads the plates, etc. onto the dishwashing tray. He opens the dishwasher door, slides the tray into the dishwasher machine, gently closes the dishwasher door, and runs the dishwasher. When the cycle is complete, he opens the dishwasher drawer, slides the tray out, and puts the items on the drying rack, later to be put away. Phew! Mission accomplished. Brenden and I complete this cycle three or more times till the day slows down.


What started out as a very busy Saturday morning, turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to watch Brenden shine and excel at his job. Brenden and I worked The Dish Pit together and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. He stepped up in a big way and completed a task that wasn’t his usual duty. Nor did it compromise his peaceful work ethic. Truly inspiring. At the end of the day, I thought to myself: If His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama ever found himself in the Dish Pit on a busy Saturday morning at a cafe a couple of days after Thanksgiving, well, I bet he’d do ‘em just like Brenden.


And he might say, “When I see you I see myself.”

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