Wouldn’t it be great if your ideas arrived fully cooked and ready to consume?
You could dig in, enjoy them, then sit back and wait for the next delivery. And I’m sure you’d appreciate it if they could at least show up in a timely fashion.
But, you probably know this already: the service at the Idea Cafe is lousy.
Here’s how it usually goes.
You try to make a reservation and the surly voice on the other end of the line snickers and says, “You can come by anytime you like, but you’ll need to bring your own chair.”
So you squeeze some time into your busy day, bring your chair, and speak to the host who couldn’t seem less interested.
“Um, where should I sit?” you ask.
“Anywhere ya like.” she says while chomping her gum, smoking a cigarette, and texting her boyfriend.
You stare. She drops the cellphone and gives you a look. “Just park your ass, honey.” she says.
“How long will I need to wait?” you ask.
“As long as it takes, sugar.” she says.
You take a deep breath, find a spot, and do as you’re told.
Then you wait.
Time passes. You can hear the ticking clock and you wonder who you have to know to get a muse around here.
Finally, someone talks to you, some guy in cutoffs and a wife beater t-shirt.
“Someone says you want ideas.” he mutters.
“Uh, yeah. That’s why I’m here.” you say.
“Well, it ain’t that easy, pal.” he says, “You have to do something.”
“Yeah, do something. You think we just give these things away?”
He has a point, you concede. “What would you like me to do?” you ask.
“I dunno,” he says, “Whatever it is you do. What are you? A writer? A painter? One of those business people? Anyway, doesn’t matter. Whatever it is you do, you have to start doing it.
That’s the way we work. Don’t like it? Go watch TV.”
“No, no.” you say, “I’ll do it. Just bring me some ideas. I’m hungry.”
“You and everybody else, pal.” he says and walks off.
Once again, you do what your told and start doing your thing. Eventually, an idea arrives.
It’s not what you ordered. It’s cold. It’s tiny, undercooked, and half or more of the ingredients are missing.
You flag down Mr. Cutoffs and say, “Excuse me, this isn’t what I ordered.”
“Yeah, but it’s what you’re getting. The rest, my friend,” he says, flashing a toothless grin, “is up to you.”
So you do what you can. You move it around on your plate. You look at it and think of ways it could be improved, what could be added to it, and what you can make of it. And when it’s time to leave, you wrap it up (You don’t bother to ask them to do it.) and take it with you.
Later, you unwrap it, throw it in a crockpot, and leave it to simmer and stew. You pick up some ingredients here and there and toss them in. You take a peek and a whiff and a taste every now and then. You stir things around and start to notice how much better it’s becoming.
And one day, you think to yourself, “This stuff is ready to serve.”
You dish it out and scoop it up with a spoon and you have to admit it’s pretty darn good. You share it with others and they like it too.
“Where did you get it?” they ask.
“Oh, I got it at the Idea Cafe.” you tell them.
“Oh, do they take reservations?” they ask.
“Not really.” you say, “Besides, You can always get in. You’ll just have to bring your own chair.”