I Shall Scramble Two With Bacon When The Muse Moves MeCommentary • workplace • Opinion • food • coworkers • ISSUE 38•32 • Sep 4, 2002 By Gus Ontiveros Gus Ontiveros Waitress! Take this plate of corned-beef hash and waffles, and spirit it to its appointed table posthaste. Hash and waffles must be served hot, and I will not have my latest masterpiece of short-order cookery spoiled by your sluggishness. What of the remainder of this order, you ask? The bacon and eggs? I do not have these yet, for inspiration has not struck. No, I will not "just make it." I shall scramble two with bacon when the muse moves me—and not one second before. I will not consider cracking the egg and pouring forth its contents until blessed inspiration takes hold of my stainless-steel spatula. And before this has any chance of happening, I must first clear my mind of all distractions: the screeching of waitresses, the relentless blare of Van Halen emanating from the dishroom, even the very sizzle of my grill. The universe must be reduced to its two essentials: me and the egg. No matter how many tickets await my attention, I must give the egg all the time it needs. Once cracked, the egg poses myriad questions. Does one add 2 percent, whole milk, or skim milk to create the delightfully fluffy peaks? Or does one put in no milk at all, the better to capture the egg in all its raw, undiluted beauty? Does one forego salt and pepper in favor of a more exotic spice such as coriander? As you can see, a scram with bacon is not as simple as it seems. What know you of the artistic process? Did Rodin create his great works of sculpture by throwing rocks at marble? No, he crafted each piece with a loving touch. So, too, must one treat the egg and the fruit of the pig. I have kept a close eye on you, Barb Guyton. I have watched as your oafish, club-like feet drag my precious creations to the table or counter, only to carelessly dump them in front of the customer with no consideration for the loving craft with which they were made. Perhaps you would be more reverent with my egg-and-sausage breakfast sandwiches if you took the time to watch as I forged them atop my blazing grill. But whenever the offer is made, you find it more important to top off someone's decaf. So be it. To whom do you think you are talking? Do you not realize that I am the man whose six-month stint at Egg Harbor's omelette station is the stuff of legend? Lines would snake around the entire breakfast buffet, reaching the awed and envious cook at the formerly popular ham-slicing station on the other end. I could have remained a star there for the rest of my life, but I chose to move on and continue my quest for perfection, underappreciated as it may be by the likes of you. I have paid my dues. I have put in the years of grueling practice necessary to become a master. I have gone through my "experimental" phases: double-poaching the egg, pre-salting the grill, and substituting chorizo for the common breakfast sausage. Working the morning shift here at Phil's Grill may be a job to you, but it's much more than that to me. And I will not allow my vision to be compromised by someone who is only in it for the money. What's that? Yes, I'm sure Carl was much easier to work with. But Carl is not fit to defrost the wheat bread for toast, much less prepare a Denver omelette. Your beloved Carl would not have lasted a minute under the stern tutelage of my mentor, Greg Frankenheimer, a man whose memory still makes me ache with thousands of remembered blows for less-than-perfect Eggs Benedict. No, I think Carl would be better served giving up short-order cooking and working at a car wash than to have the burden of perfection placed on his sloped, insufficient shoulders. I am The Gus, and don't you forget it. Now be gone, woman, and let me contemplate my scrambling in peace.