>On a particular occasion, the soda fountain was “hoppin“. We had every table full and a family just walking in the door. This family was rather upstanding in the community as they ran a chiropractic clinic. The family sat at the bar and began to order sandwiches for the whole group. Now, you need to understand that this family was not your typical 2.5 kids. Because of my location, the average size of a family is much larger. This group consisted of six kids and of course both parents were there as well.

I took the orders and began to systematically tackle the awesome task of making all the sandwiches at the same time. The goal, obviously, was serve all the sandwiches without much delay between them.

Before starting the other sandwiches I decided to make the grilled cheese sandwich for the mom and get it cooking. The other sandwiches did not need to be cooked and would not take as long. I plugged in the electric fry pan and began spreading mayonnaise on the others. After a few minutes I went back to the pan to check the temperature, and realized that I had failed to turn it on after plugging it in. I grunted just a little bit realizing my mistake, turned it on and proceeded to build my other michaelangelos.

A few minutes later the pan was ready to warmly caress the bottom of the first slice of bread. I carefully and lovingly laid the slice down and and layered it with a tasty piece of Cheddar cheese. I turned away to finish up the other sandwiches that were waiting to become masterpieces in their own right.

Fifteen minutes after starting all of the meals for this fine family, I finished seven of the eight sandwiches. I suddenly realized that the grilled cheese sandwich was still simmering away in the electric fry pan. I rushed over to see what kind of disaster awaited. I picked up the sandwich to discover that the bread was as black as night. After contemplating for a fraction of a second to just scrape the burnt crust off and serve it, I thought that perhaps this was not the best customer service and changed my mind quite quickly. I hastily tossed another piece of bread with a slice of cheese on the the grill and went to apologize to the mother for the length of time she was having to wait for a measly grilled cheese sandwich.

Five minutes later, it was time to serve the sandwich and be done with this family and this sandwich that was proving to difficult to get from pan to person. I grabbed a spatula to transport the sandwich from pan to plate….I didn’t quite make it to the plate. The sandwich slipped off the spat and when “splat” on the floor. I was in shock. It had taken twenty minutes to get to this point and now, once again, I had to start from scratch.

I once again apologized to the mother (who was only sitting three feet from this fiasco) and began to try to make her another one. I put the sandwich on the grill, made sure the pan was on, carefully watched it so it wouldn’t burn, and then delicately put the sandwich on the plate and daintily handed the mother her sandwich. almost thirty minutes after starting her tiny little grilled cheese sandwich, I finished. She was very considerate and did not have a bad word to say. I gave the sandwich to her for free.

There were many other fun experiences at the soda fountain like counting out $5 worth of penny candy, cutting my finger on an egg shell, spilling milkshakes on people, giving a person a banana split and forgetting the banana, and cutting my hand wide open while making a sandwich in front of the sandwich owner.

next time; part 4 of Xian bookstores.