By Neil Senturia
Monday is Labor Day.
So, as writers are wont to do from time to time, I am going to go off the reservation, get out of my swim lane (mixed metaphors indeed) and wonder what it might have been like on Labor Day, Sept. 3, 1990, when Jerry Seinfeld and his pals walked into Monk’s Cafe, only to find it was completely empty. They sit down at their usual booth.
George: “Where is everybody?”
Jerry: “It’s Labor Day, no one’s working.”
Elaine: “So how am I supposed to get my Big Salad?”
Kramer: “Elaine, this is a holiday from work to honor all the people who work”.
George: “If no one is working on Labor Day, then maybe we need a Goof-Off Day and then people would show up and get something done.”
Elaine: “Look, I am going to a Labor Day picnic and I need my Big Salad.”
Kramer: “I know about laboring. It’s honorable to show up and get paid to do a job.”
Jerry: “How would you know, you’ve never had a job.”
Kramer: “Oh, but yes I have.”
George: “What was it.”
Kramer: “Snow removal, I shoveled snow.”
Elaine: “You grew up in Florida.”
Kramer: “It was part-time work.”
Elaine: (with her classic smile) “I am definitely down with laboring. I’m dating a construction worker, and we are going to do some constructing later.”
George: “Hard hat required?”
Elaine: “Not after 6.”
From the back, an old man wanders out to the booth. He is hunched over and wearing a dirty apron. He looks at the motley group. There is a long pause.
George: “I know you, you’re the cook. I’ve seen you before, behind the stove. How long have you been working here.”
The Cook: “Since Moses.”
Kramer: “Grandma or the other one?”
Jerry: “Why are you here, no one’s working today.”
The Cook: “No, you’re wrong, lots of people are working. And there are lots of people who want to work and don’t have a job. So, since I have a job, I’m here to work. I like working. “
Jerry: “George, could you get up and get us all some coffee.”
The Cook: “Pots on in the back.”
George: “Why me?”
Jerry: “You’re on the outside.”
Kramer: “No labor, no labor.”
Jerry: “Ok, I’ll get it.”
Jerry gets up and The Cook slides directly into the booth.
The Cook: “Let me explain how the system works. Everybody wants a job. And they want a job, not only because they want to make money, but because it feels good to do something well — like I am the best at the Monte Cristo sandwich — it’s all about the Swiss cheese and the egg batter. And yes, there are times when I hate my job — for example, when George complains that his omelette is too runny, (even though soft is the proper way to serve it), and Jerry wants a fourth bowl of cereal, or when the dishwasher leaves early and I have to do two jobs, but mostly I am thrilled to have a place to go, which is why I came in today and opened the shop, even though I didn’t think anyone would come in — there is a sign in front that says we are closed today, Monk wanted to give everyone a day off — but I came in anyway, and then you four showed up, ignored the sign and settled in wanting to be served. I guess you figured that you were doing me a favor by giving me a chance to labor on Labor Day — how thoughtful.”
Jerry returns with the coffees. Gives one to The Cook.
The Cook: “No, just black. Thank you.”
The Cook stands up.
Elaine: “Uh, excuse me, uh so, since you’re here and we’re here and we’re all here and it’s Labor Day — well, do you think I can get a Big Salad to go.”
The Cook (gives her a long look and then finally a smile): “Sure, I’ll get right on it.”
He turns and walks back to the kitchen.
George: “Do you think we have to leave a tip, I mean after all, it‘s a to go order.”
Neil Senturia is a San Diego-based serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist and one-time Hollywood script writer.
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