I’ve come here to report that I am officially out of the pizza game.
This was paradoxically an incredibly easy and difficult decision to make. For one, I love working in the food industry. The fast pace of a kitchen mixed with the artistry of cooking and the human interactions with customers is like nothing I have ever experienced in my myriad of other jobs. There is nothing better than the dinner rush on a Friday night when everyone on the team is clicking and orders keep coming. You can enter a flow-state where nothing matters except for the prospect of clearing those slips from your view, and your actions become fluid as you work to achieve that goal. Some nights it seems like you know the orders before they come in, and every move you make is done without thinking.
Opposite of that, there is nothing worse than when nothing goes right. You can’t get ahead, and just when you do – turns out that calzone wasn’t supposed to have cheese, and as you’re fixing it, you burnt those two pizzas in the oven. Dummy. Funny enough, even those nights are why I love the food industry. When I waited tables we called it “getting in the weeds”. It’s the kind of night where you really get to see what you are made of in a high-pressure situation.
I find a lot of joy and value from experiences like these; the flawless flow of execution, as well as the sigh of relief after you finally bail all the water from a sinking ship. However, it wasn’t enough to keep me from selling the business I had built up over the last 4 years. In truth, It was the ever-presence of it all that ultimately lead to my decision.
I have heard it before, but I never really got it when people would say, “my business is my baby.” To me that was a way of them saying, “I love what I do” or “I’m proud of what I have built. Now I know that I had it all wrong. The reality of it is that you can never really separate yourself from your business, the same way you can never really separate yourself from your child. No matter where you go, or what you do, the responsibility and problems of that entity will follow you…
That is what drove me crazy.
Even when I had a day off… I didn’t have the day off.
When I went on vacation… I wasn’t really on vacation.
The responsibility, stress, and reputation of the business followed me everywhere. If there was a leak, I had to fix it. If someone needed the night off, I had to fill it. If someone got pickles on their sub but they asked for no pickles, I had to know it. If this person made that person upset, then god dammit, papa bear had to make it all better. Pile that on top of the fact that I was living a double-life as a full time school teacher (a rant for another day) and it became too much.
I was beginning to neglect my responsibilities out of sheer apathy. I let bills pile up that I had the money to pay because filling out the address on an envelope just seemed too arduous a task. What happened to all my energy? What happened to my creativity? What happened to my passion for everything and anything in my life? I was consumed by the business, and I decided to change that.
It has been 13 days since my official departure from the business, and I couldn’t be happier. The stress is slowly leaving my body. All the windows in my mind that were closed in order to keep my thoughts from wandering are now open again. Sure I will miss the crew. Sure I will miss the money. Sure I will miss the dinner rush on a Friday night. But I’m sure with all this time I can find something new to fill the void.