Why I love what I do

The show the Marvelous Mrs Maisel has been on my mind a lot lately.  When the show first came out there were similarities to her life and mine, and people also compared me to her personality wise.  I would watch the show and enjoyed the satirical look of Jewish life and loved the 1960’s angle of the show too.  There were many lines in the show that resonated with me and either I thought, “oh, I said that” or “aha, so right!”.  

Not giving away any of the show, and I do recommend it, for a lot of reasons, there are parts of the show that I think of more as I think of my business. There is a line in the first episode, so not giving anything away where the main character, Midge, asks Lenny Bruce if he loves being a stand up comedian and he answers 

“Well, I’ve been doing it awhile. Ok, let’s put it like this: If there was anything else in the entire world that I could possibly do to earn a living, I would. Anything! I’m talking dry cleaners to the Klan, crippled kid portrait painters, slaughterhouse attendants. If someone said to me, “Leonard, you can either eat a guy’s head, or do two weeks at the Copa,” I’d say “Pass the F$&#*%@ salt.” It’s a terrible, terrible job. It should not exist. Like cancer. And God.”

This line pops in my head as I sit at my computer working at almost 10 pm at night on a Saturday, again.  I fell into this work, happenstance, I started as a volunteer to help my synagogue and it started me on this path.  The food industry is a hard industry, it is hard work, can be horrible hours, you never know what consistency of business you will see, and on and on.  But I love what I do.  

When I started college in 1997, I was an engineering major, I always wanted to be an engineer like my grandpa.  I was good at math and science and it made sense. Two weeks into school I had to write a paper on why I wanted to be an engineer, and I came home and said to my mom ” I don’t want to be an engineer, I would be good at it but I won’t be happy” and that was that.  My mom, being the great Jewish mother she is, made me go to a career counselor to figure out what to do with my life.  I took a test and I remember looking at this wheel and thinking “those things are not connected, this is silly” and forgot about it, till 2020, sitting at home alone during a pandemic.  It popped in my head and it was religion and business!! NO JOKE!

I majored in retail management as I floundered in college, and I joked I majored in shopping, always a favorite activity.  My first job out of college was at Strong Mutual funds in purchasing, somewhat connected to my major, and did well with numbers and got moved into expense reporting and business card management.  Then left that job to work at Stark Investments and worked with actual trade accounting.  Then, I became a stay at home mom when Rebecca, my oldest was born, and I loved being home with her, and then 2 1/2 years later came Eva.  

I needed to be busy and was volunteering more and more at Congregation Beth Israel and ended up taking over their weekly kiddish lunches and overtime all their meals.  This volunteer job became bigger and bigger, and eventually they wanted to grow the catering business I built and insisted I become the catering manager, though I was not looking for employment.  

My love of my community and feeding my community grew.  Now all these years later, I have been working in kitchens now for 14 years.  There are times, I think, like the character Lenny Bruce, I must be crazy, but I do love it.  

The love of being a part of people’s lives, the great times, like the bris’ and babynaming, welcoming a new member into the community.  Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, any excuse for a party, I love!  The community events, if it is just gathering for fun, an important speaker or supporting the great work our nonprofits do.  As well as the shivas, last week getting a text from a family that the work we did made a hard day so much easier and how much they appreciate it.  

Now having the cafe and the snackshack and seeing all the people I get to see is truly a joy as well, giving us a place to gather, meet and just shmooze because that is important!  Working with my amazing team gives me joy, they truly work hard and love what they do, and have fun while doing it.  Connecting with our customers is always a bright spot and just learning and getting to grow in what I do daily is amazing. 

So the hours are long, there are days I am exhausted, and days I am frustrated and overwhelmed, but I dont think there is any looking back. For me it is just figuring out how to keep being more efficient, growing my team so that I am able to focus on growing my business and keep dreaming bigger.  I guess when sometimes what you are meant to do finds you, you just dont know how.

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