Its uncanny in so many of life’s circumstances how something so small can have such a big effect. You can’t watch the Olympics very long without seeing someone’s dream dashed because of a missed landing, a missed gate or a fraction of a second too slow. Al Pacino’s speech in Any Given Sunday rings clear…” You find out that life is just a game of inches.”

We had a nice evening of service tonight, with the exception of an error that left a customer without her food. It was clearly my mistake, an oversight on my part. I had nothing else to do but to go to the table myself and apologize, own up to the error like a man and leave it at that.

So what’s the big deal, right? Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. Don’t be so hard on myself. It’s just that I’ve never been OK with that line of thinking.

It’s hard to not take mistakes like that personally.

I find it interesting the difference in how the snowboarders take their failure against how the figure skater responds when missing the quad jump. One seems to take it in stride, while the other seems devastated. You can probably guess which is which.

Does it have to do with the amount of significance we put into our work? Does it come from our need that we extract from it? For some it’s a hobby and a thrill, for others its life and death.

I kinda want to land somewhere in the middle.

I was honored to appear in the Omaha World Herald this week as a featured guest of their Chef Chat. Thanks to the many of you who sent congratulations. We did not get to this point without caring. That’s why seeing an unhappy customer bugs me so much, and becomes the topic of tonight’s post-shift catharsis.

Earlier today, I overheard a conversation in which a young woman was talking about the approach she took to selling wine. “When it comes down to it, the key is bullshit, cause that’s what its all about, just a bunch of bullshit…”

I’m glad she was not applying for a job with me.

We did not get to this point by bullshitting. We’ve made it this far in this dreary economy by caring about what we do, by loving the life, and believing in our food and drink and the way in which it is served. That’s why it’s hard to blow off a mistake. Yes, maybe I’ll live longer by not being so hard on myself. But will I have really lived?

What do you care about so much that it takes several hours or even days to get over? Therein might lay your passion. And if you’ve grown cynical and stop letting it bother you, I would say you are in a worse position than before.

A game of inches