Yes, Out, No In, On and On

A few weeks ago I was at a chain restaurant. I was seated near the swinging double doors to the kitchen. From my angle I could only see one of them at first. Someone had posted the word “NO” on one of the doors with mail box letters. If I had to guess, I’d say it was done in haste, given how crooked they were. People only ever came out of that door; obviously “NO” meant to not enter through that side. It was probably applied by a weary manager one night the moment he realized, “IN” and “OUT” were not specifically enough  messages, thus calling many a broken dish or possibly nose.

I can see some of the confusion that might have happened among the staff with “IN” or “OUT” used instead. “Does it mean ‘IN’ to the kitchen? Or people are coming ‘IN’ so watch out?”

“NO” makes the point. Or as some of my friends would say, “No…just no.”

Without being obvious about it, I got up at one point to get a better view of the other door. As expected, “YES” was applied here. I thought of how yin-yang the entire thing was. How when there is a “NO” somewhere, a “YES” can usually be found if one looks hard enough.

I still wasn’t satisfied, though. Though to most, what lie on the other side of each door would have been obvious, I had to see it myself. It required sustained attention for a few minutes, and an enthusiastic exit by one of the wait staff, but sure enough, on the other side of the “NO” door itself was in fact a “YES.” Naturally on the kitchen side of the “YES” door was affixed the word “NO.”

No we are getting beyond yin-yang and into a bit of Zen or existentialism perhaps. Not only is there a “YES” in life near the “NO” if we look, the “YES” is fact IS the “NO” if viewed from a particular angle. In the kitchen, what is “Yes” is to me as a customer the “NO” door. And the other way around.

Perspective and purpose. One thing defined not just in multiple ways, but as its polar opposite, when order and safety require it.

In the swinging doors in the restaurant of existence, we may all just be servers moving constantly between the kitchen and the dining room. Our goal at the moment, and our position relative to everything else determined if the door in front of us is a “YES” or a “NO.”

And passing through either one causes ripples. Pass through the wrong one, and potential disaster. Pass through the correct one and it continues to swing back and forth for quite a while after we’ve done so. Dancing through all of the yes’s and no’s in our life, we leave something in our wake, at least for a while.

And if we stand there between “YES” and “NO” and just wait, we’re in the way, and will probably before long be knocked flat on our asses.

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