“Be Afraid” read the headline on Good Friday afternoon, and I obeyed. Without reading any further, I let the super-sized red letters on the headline burn themselves in to my soul. I gave into anxiety, and I knew I had no one else to blame. I was the one who had clicked on the link when I should have been working.
And, once I clicked, I couldn’t tear myself away. The bees were dying. We’re at the brink of World War III with a tiny country on the other side of the globe, and there was plenty of pestilence to go around. Thankfully, work inundated me with enough work again to prevent any festering of my worries, and by the time I had time to click on news again, it was time to feed the family.
Cooking for dinner seemed about as pleasant way to cap off a nine hour day as a root canal, so I decided to ring up East Arlington Takeout. Birthed just this winter, this little restaurant stepped in to fill a void created when one of our old favorites closed down due to recession and retirement. I dialed and a decidedly young voice answered. I knew it had to be a daughter of one of the owners. Despite her youth, she calmly and professionally took my order, asking the appropriate questions and let me know it would be ready in twenty minutes.
My anxiety was gone as I headed out. I was still tense from work and lost in plans for the weakend, thought, and I took my worries to the EAT. I wouldn’t bring them home.
Located in what used to be a convenience store, the takeout place consists of two halves. One half is the kitchen and prep area. The other half is a waiting area for customers and kids. Near the window and door of that half sit a counter and register, but behind shelves laden with pizza boxes are a few couches and a TV where the owners’ children hangout and do homework.
It’s not a sit-down restaurant, but it has already become a popular local hangout. We’ve made it our go-to place on Friday nights, and I’ve started looking forward to it for more than the food. Everytime I walk in – even on weeknights – it’s hopping. Last Friday night friends I know from both boys’ schools. I saw people I met while working weddings once upon a time. I saw their kids pitching in and hanging out. I saw their kids’ friends pop in to watch TV. And I saw a small business,at the ripe old age of three months, becoming an institution.
I think I really felt a little magic as I got back into my car and watched the tableau through the windows framed by the dark blues of late winter dusk. I love seeing a small business defy the odds and experts. When you see one taking off in its first three months and building a devout following, it’s inspiring. It’s even more inspiring when you know it’s the culmination of the dreams of moms and pops you know – not just some faceless corporation.
I pulled out of the lot feeling good about our purchase as I always do and not just because the food tastes good and got me out of cooking. As I drove home, I though about missiles pointed at us, about cyberattacks, about dying bees, and all the other things in the world I can’t control (maybe we’ll help in the bee area this summer). But, as the smell of a custom made italian sub permeates my car, it soothed me, reminding me of the little things I do influence.