he gave us wings


    He took the wings we weren’t going to use for dinner.

    We serve a roast chicken dish, so we cut up the birds so each customer gets one piece that is half of a breast with the first section of the wing bone attached and a second piece that is the leg and thigh. Abel, the cook next to me on the line every Sunday night, took the rest of the wings and some of the other leftovers, but I didn’t see what he did with them. And I lost track of them because we were busy tonight. I don’t know what was going on, but people were out to eat to night here in Durham and about one hundred and fifty of them came to our place, About eight-thirty, when we had a small break, I looked up to see Abel filling a line of plates with food.

    For us. There was a small stack of diced potatoes, some carrots and onions, a wonderful looking burnt orange colored sauce, and a stack of small chicken bones – the leftovers – on each plate. He had made enough for everyone in the kitchen. I picked up my plate at the same time as the Shift Leader and we both made the same sounds of satisfaction as we began to chew our food. The dish was amazing. The Shift Leader handed Abel the left over chicken – the good pieces – and said, “Make some more.”

    As he began to cook, Abel motioned to me and I moved closer. He was holding fresh herbs in his hands. “This is it,” he said. “You take some mint, some cilantro, some thyme, and a little chipotle peppers. And some of the Dave’s spice mix (a sort of red salt mixture: cayenne, chili powder, paprika, etc.), then you just cook it slow. That’s all.”

    This is a guy who comes everyday to work at our restaurant after having worked a full shift at another restaurant. This is a guy who knows a lot about what he does and doesn’t get the credit because, as they say, he’s not from these parts. And this is a guy, in the middle of a very busy night, who took time and thought and effort to cook dinner for those of us who stand along side him in the kitchen every week.

    This is a good guy.

    Rich Mullins has a song that says

    Talk about your miracles
    Talk about your faith
    My dad he could make things grow
    Out of Indiana clay
    Mom could make a gourmet meal
    Out of just cornbread and beans
    And they worked to give faith hands and feet
    And somehow gave it wings

    That’s it. In the middle of a hectic night, Abel gave us wings. No one flew, but we watched as he took what was broken and discarded and with care and creativity filled our stomachs and lifted our spirits.

    Not bad for a Sunday night.



    1. I liked this, though I thought you were headed a different direction. The mere thought of “you gave us wings so we could fly/you knew the foolish things we’d try” tears me up every time.

      Great post, for all that it provoked.

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