Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oscar of Baja Fresh

So about three years ago
my friend K. returned from her summer
of having kids buy cigarettes in California
(a study of who would sell
to underage children)
loving Baja Fresh
where they would often eat
between hitting convenience stores for a "smoke"

A mere few months later
we discovered TWO Baja Fresh locations
in the not-so-distant suburbs.
Practically in our backyard
compared to California.

I can't lie. We went to Baja Fresh a lot.
Once-a-week a lot.
And so the counter-guy, Oscar,
began to recognize us
Hey! How are you tonight?
How has your week been?
he'd greet us on a Thursday evening.

While there seems something quaint
about being a regular at, say,
a local coffee shop,
there is something far less quaint
about being a regular at an
upscale fast-food establishment.

But you smile and say
how do you do
while rushing off to the soda machine.

The Baja Fresh days waned,
grew more infrequent,
there'd be a stop on the weekends
when Oscar didn't work.

But now that yoga ends at 7:30
just down the block
it only makes sense to stop
for a burrito before I head home.

So a few weeks ago
Oscar was at the counter, like always.
Hey! How are you doing?
And your name is...wait...let me guess...Emily!
Am I right?
smile and nod
Well, you just made my night Emily!

This should be my sign--
that I'm a regular at a burrito chain in the suburbs
and I don't even live in the suburbs.
Maybe it's time to cut back.

Now, when I go to Baja Fresh
whether I'm in his line or not
Oscar beams his greeting:
Hello Emily! How are you tonight?

I'd rather be annonymous
just another face passing by
I'd rather there was more staff turnover
so I could order my burrito ultimo
without fanfare.

But how many people in the world
take the time
to remember our name
and greet us with kindness
no matter the day.

Thanks, Oscar.


Blogger snowsparkle said...

emily, i've never read a sweeter more sincere ode to grace and gratefulness than this.... oscar clearly sees how extraordinary you are in this ordinary place. a little celebration of fellow travellers on a small planet... there's nothing better. thanks, emily.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

you make me smile.

one week, one day
and then

maybe we can have lunch
at baja fresh one day during our break?
or...we could always go to the golden west cafe...


11:27 AM  
Blogger joy madison said...

I know how you feel. The people at Chipotle know our names! I have the same dislike/like that that happens...its sweet, but sometimes I'd rather be invisible! Have a great weekend!

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Jorge said...

I can't help but imagine what knowing you must do for Oscar! How significant he must feel that he knows you, not just a mere customer, but you are a real person to him. Perhaps, at one time, you made him feel significant, gave him pride in what he was doing at Baja Fresh...much like you do with your kids at school. It may not be as much about being recognized because of who you are, but because of what you have made the other person feel about his or her own self. Wouldn't it be great if we could touch every "insignificant" person, and make them feel that who they are and what they do is important; is vital to our lives! Thanks, Em, for sharing; it makes me appreciate both you and me and all those "simple" folk who provide us with the essence of life.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Deezee said...

I travel the world quite anonymously (hmmm, check out photo in one of my posts on my blog!) which I cherish at the same time that I fight the instinct. My, oh my, how I related to this piece...

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the regular pizza shop last night and I really understood your reflection on Oscar. I was greeted with an embrace and "I haven't seen you for so long!" - I didn't even think he knew who I was. We chatted as I waited for my pizza. As he handed me the pizza, he also included God's blessing. How often do you go for just some fast food and come out with a good pizza and a loving blessing! Thanks for making me pay more attention to life.

8:45 AM  

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