Sometimes the universe tells you its time to take a day off. These days, we are busier and busier. Each day at least one Pilgrim proclaims ‘You need more people to help you.’ And they are right. But we only have five weeks left in the season. Too late to hire now.
Jeff has been working two jobs. Helping me in the mornings by running supplies from the barn, making gallons of sin gluten waffle batter, and running tubs of dishes to the dishwasher. Then he works his real job. Even before I look at my numbers at the end of the day, I generally know how much I have taken in. Each dish bin has a value. Sure, there are days I am surprised. But I can count on a fixed amount, so I can keep track. For the first time in my life dirty dishes are a good thing.
But, I am a bit tired. I will admit it. There are less Pilgrims walking these days, but more are stopping at The Happiness Cafe. Jeff made more signs and posted then up the trail, right next to the other clusters of signs for other cafes and Albergues. And he made me a couple for the berm in front of the house. And all of the ideas are not necessarily ours.
A business consultant from the US stopped by with his buddies. Phil gave us some advice on where and what we might consider to raise awareness. I told them they have to come back quarterly for our board meetings. We are the second cafe Pilgrims come to in A Campanilla. The first one catches the most fish.
But, the most magical advice came from my little old man, Modesto, who comes and sees me in the afternoons, right before I close. I give him free vino blanco and he helps me with my español. That free vino is the best investment I have ever made. One day, a couple of weeks ago, he left me and walked backwards down the trail. Then, later he returned for more wine and was loaded with good advice.
‘You need different signs. Signs that say you are friendly.’
I frowned. ‘Really? That seems like a strange thing to put on a sign. Aren’t most people in the hospitality business friendly?’
He looked at me like I was crazy. ‘NO! They don’t have to be because they are the only place and they get all the Pilgrims. You need to tell people you are friendly. And you should put that you speak ingles.’
Again, I felt weird about saying that on a sign.
‘Why?! Don’t you speak ingles? Of course you do. Many Pilgrims who speak ingles will come here if you tell them.’
It turns out that my elderly best friend, and newly appointed Chairman of my Board, Modesto, is spot on. Jeff made the signs. He put them up, my business tripled, then quadrupled overnight. To say I was unprepared for the onslaught doesn’t cover it. I have been working more and more hours, and days in a row. People message me on my day off or afternoons, asking why we are closed and if they can just get one spinach smoothie and a gluten-free waffle. They think they’re the only one doing this but there they’d be wrong. Sometimes, I trudge out there and do it. If I’m not having an afternoon nap during my siesta.
Yesterday, I had a full house and people lined up. Suddenly, I sliced open my finger. It wasn’t quite as bad as Dan Akroyd playing Julia Child on SNL, in the 1970’s, but there was blood. A lot of blood. Before I swooned, as one of my Pilgrim saviors put it, I grabbed on to the counter and went down slow. Two other pilgrims from Bellevue, Washington were there, of course. Because a day without Pilgrims from the Seattle area is not a day, at all. First aid kits were produced. Ice in a towel. I was laying down on the ground with my hand in the air, when suddenly a new face was looming over me as I lay prone with three woman in attendance working their magic, including deep breathing, herbal essential oils, and reiki. What!?! Remember- it is The Camino. 😳
‘Hello, Kelli.’ Came a smooth Australian drawl.
Wait, I thought, I know that voice, if not the face. It was Dan Mullins! Yes, that Dan Mullins who has the podcast in Australia that we did last Spring. The one who has brought Pilgrims from around the world to our doorstep. Multiple times a day someone tells me they heard me on Dan’s podcast.
‘Hello, Dan. Of course you’re here as I am laying on the ground in a crowd,’ I told him from my reclined, bloodied position. ‘Nice to see you in person.’ And it was. He is such a good guy.
One of my ladies in waiting was having none if it. She ordered Dan to enter the food truck and immediately start making coffees for those waiting.
He laughed ‘I suppose I could do that.’
But, luckily for Dan, Jeff was already in there trying to quell the masses, explaining that the person who knew how to make avocado toast or waffles was on the ground bleeding. Still, he took some money and handed out beers.
And all this just goes to show you that wise old men know everything. And when the universe wants you to take a day off you should listen. Because, no matter what, it will get it’s point across one way or the other. And sometimes that point is at the end of a knife.