The Freshest Lettuce On The Planet- by Kurt Linneman

 I used to hate being self-employed … my boss treated me like crap!

I always wanted more. More customers, better employees, less expensive suppliers. And yes, always… for my restaurant, The Crocodile Cafe- to be more and more profitable.

These yearnings carried over into my private life. A better house. A better car. A better golf swing. Every time I accomplished a goal, I would enjoy the flush of success- but onlyfor a moment. Then I would set the bar ever higher.

It got to the point where I was really never content doing anything. I was too busy multi-tasking so I could get to the next thing on my to-do list. I kept pushing the fast-forward button on my life.

Here is just how bad it got. One day I was driving my Honda through heavy traffic. I caught myself trying to downshift into fourth gear, scroll my social media feed, eat tacos…all at the same time!


After a while, my “Just git ‘er done” mindset left me totally fed up, questioning everything in my life. I was so confused that I thought about tossing it all in and moving to Mexico, where I would bake on the beach sipping margaritas and smoking doobies with the locals as my brain turned to mush…forever.

And then, one day …


I was checking on the salad station at my restaurant before lunch service. There was a new employee at the salad station- named Michelle. I had to stop and watch in amazement because she was making some of the finest looking salads that I had ever seen! And she was working with a Zen-like focus. All at once efficient, intense, caring and happy.

I became a student of Michelle’s caring and thoughtful work habits. After watching in fascination for several weeks, I finally had to ask her “What’s your secret?”.

I’ll never forget her answer, “I just focus on doing excellent work and don’t think about anything else,” she said.

A day or so later my lettuce-chopper dude didn’t show up for work. Chopping lettuce was sure-as-hell not on my plan for the day. Usually I would have hacked the lettuce to thoughtless bits, thinking all the while, “I’ve got more important things to do than chopping this stinking, lowly lettuce!”

But this time I thought I’d try Michelle’s approach to work.

I knew how long it should take me to chop the lettuce- 20 minutes. Our efficiency experts had measured this job and knew exactly how long it takes to trim, wash and dry one case (24 heads) of romaine lettuce.

I put my apron on and told myself; “Allright Kurtee boy, for the next 20 minutes, this lettuce is gonna own every ounce of your soul.”  I walked into the kitchen and started chopping lettuce like it was the only thing that mattered. I didn’t think about anything else.

I noticed the rich green color of the leaves, the way the veins reached out of each leaf. As I tore the leaves, I heard the clear snap and smelled the freshness of a garden. The sound of my knife on the cutting board tapped out a unique rhythm as the heads of lettuce were transformed into beautiful green ribbons of perfection.

The noise, tension and chaos of the professional kitchen dissolved away as I became one with my lettuce. Time seemed to stand still. I became like the Samurai Swordsman. Calm in eye of the storm.

Hot damn! Lord, this was delicious! I had finally learned the secret to making…

The freshest lettuce on the planet.

The tedious, unrewarding chore of lettuce chopping had turned into a mesmerizing experience. I actually enjoyed every moment. Surprisingly, when I finished this “grunt job,” I felt totally energized, focused and powerful. My creative juices were flowing, yet I was totally relaxed. I felt better than I had in years!