Tic Toc Tic Toc.
Inside an empty kitchen, Jo Minjoon quietly stared at the clock. Don’t go. Stop. Despite his silent scream, the clock hand continued to move diligently, like it always does.
Eleven fifty-nine and fifty-seven seconds. fifty eight seconds. fifty nine seconds. And 12 O’clock…..
It was New Year’s Eve. And he was at the end of his twenties, as well as the beginning of his thirties. Jo Minjoon sighed deeply as sudden fatigue enveloped him. Time was moving slowly, and he thought to himself, compared to the amount of time spent, he did not gain anything.
Jo Minjoon was a highschool teacher. Precisely speaking, an english teacher. Like all teaching jobs, it wasn’t that successful of a career, but neither was a failure. Right. At least, it was like that until spring of his twenty eighth year. But in March, Jo Minjoon resigned from his teaching position.
He knew that teaching, wasn’t meant for him. He didn’t even think of becoming a teacher once. What Jo Minjoon aspired to be ever since he was young was to become a chef. However, he couldn’t go against parent’s will. At that time, Jo Minjoon had a decent grade, and he had already been accepted to a college through early decision. So, when he said he wanted to become a chef, what kind of parents would support that kind of rash decision.
10 Years passed after that. Jo Minjoon followed his parents wishes, and was able to find his place at a high school. However, that was it. His parent kept saying that he will thank them one day… but that was not it. Yes, the job was stable, but Jo Minjoon only felt vanity from his job. So in the end, he resigned.
After that, he started to work in a restaurant. He found a job as a dishwasher in a famous restaurant in Gangnam. He washed dishes for half a year, and after one year, he started making salads and other sloppy side dishes. That was all he had accomplished in his thirty years of life. Someone who had nowhere to go in New Year’s day, sitting as time went by in a dark empty kitchen.
There was no point complaining about it now. Because t was a choice he had made. So, he had no right to complain about his current frustrating life. Then, suddenly the sound of chime rang, and the lights lit up in the restaurant.
“Oh, Minjoon hyung. You were still here?”
It was Park Yooseok. He was two years younger than him, but he was his superior. He was lined up to become the head chef in a few years.
“Ah, yes. Sunbae. What brings you here?” (*Sunbae = equivalent to the japanese “Senpai”. Designates a senior in work or study.)
Jo Minjoon was using honorifics to speak to him. He had no choice. It was because the hierarchy of the cooking world was very strong. Park Yooseok pretended like he was uncomfortable at the honorifics, but secretly he enjoyed it. Park Yooseok took out a wallet from a corner of the kitchen, and then shook it in front of Jo Minjoon.
“Ah, what a relief, I think i left something somewhere. Hyung. Peel those garlic while I go get it. Seemed like we were out of garlics. Since you are here already, it would be better to peel them now rather than doing it tomorrow morning, no?
“I’m a little tired right now.”
“Ha……hyung. Please Help me keep my good manners towards elders. Other hoobaes, never talk back to me when I ask them to do these little chores.” (*Hoobae = equivalent to the japanese “Koohai”, designates a junior in work or study)
“I’ll be leaving now. Take care.”
Park Yooseok left after that. But He picked up what Park Yooseok’s mumbling before he left. “Does he think he’s all that because he’s older? So fucking scary” Jo Minjoon couldn’t do anything but stared at the back of Park Yooseok. Even though we was mad, he couldn’t say anything . If he did, he would become known as reckless, and someone who disregards the hierarchy. He had no choice to swallow his anger.
“Garlic my ass.”
But still Jo Minjoon was taking the garlics out of the kitchen refrigerator. After peeling garlics for a while, Jo Minjoon turned on his smartphone. And he went into his blog. His blog was the only thing that soothed him these days. There were posts about dishes that he made, and the comments that gets posted on those. When he read those, it gave him peace of mind.
Jo Min Joon clicked on the “write post” button. The subject was simple. New Year’s greetings. Even the content was simple and boring.
There were no comment for about 10 minutes. Because Jo Minjoon wasn’t a famous blogger or anything. When he was taking notes off of other blogs cooking recipes, he received a comment notification. It was a familiar nickname.
CookingGuru : JoChef-nim Happy New Year~ ^^ Your New Year’s greeting was the first. (*nim = honorific calling somebody higher, a customer or as to be polite. Equivalent to the japanese “-sama”)
[JoChef] was Jo Minjoon’s nickname. Even though it was just one person, his sadness loosened up a little. Jo Minjoon quickly replied.
JoChef: Happy New years to you too, CookingGuru-nim. Your greeting was also my first .
CookingGuru: hehe hmm there were no posts about dinner, dont tell me you didn’t eat?
JoChef: Somehow it ended up being like that. T__T
For a while, the two exchanged surface level conversation. It was after about 10 comments were exchanged, the conversation became deeper.
CookingGuru: Then JoChef-nim is still in his 2nd year?
JoChef: Yes, although i flaunt myself a little in my blog with my cooking, but I just peel garlic in some restaurant. lol..
CookingGuru: Ah.. its a pity. If you changed your path just a little bit younger, I’m sure you would’ve be in a better situation.
JoChef: What can I do. It’s my fault. I didn’t have the courage back then. I realized it too late, that everyone has their own path.
CookingGuru: If you could return to when you were younger, would you jump in to the world of cooking right away?
JoChef: Yes, I would. Now I am certain which path is my path. Of course it’s pretty rough right now but still…
After that comment, there were no other comment for a quite a while. Maybe he became tired of such a deep conversation. It was a bit depressing topic to talk about in New Years. Jo Minjoon rested his head on a table outside, and closed his eyes. He was sleepy. Tired. He did not want to think about anything.
It was after around 10 minutes after Jo Minjoon fell asleep. His dark phone screen illuminated brightly with a comment alarm.
NEW CookingGuru: Sure. Return to when you were younger. I would like to see your youthful pursuit of your path too.
Hyung : Big/older brother. Kind of an equivalent to the japanese “onii-san” but only used between male (male to male).
TL Check : KobatoChanDaiSuki