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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 the new years. And it was 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 mercilessly, and he thought to himself, compared to the amount of time spent, he did not gain anything.

Jo Minjoon was a highschool teacher. To be exact, an english teacher. Like all teaching job, it was a career without a big success,  but also that won’t have even small failures. Yeah. That was it, until the spring of his twenty eighth year. But in March, Jo Minjoon resigned from his teaching position.

He knew that a teacher’s career, wasn’t meant for him. Not once did he want to become a teacher. What Jo Minjoon aspired to be ever since he was young was to become a chef. However, his parent’s opposition was too strong. 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 later… but that was not it. Yes, the job had stability, but Jo Minjoon only felt vanity from his job. That’s the reason for his resignation.

After, he went straight to 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 side dishes. That’s all he was, after 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. It was a choice that he made. So, he had no right to complain about his current frustrating life. Then, suddenly the sound of chime echoed through the hall, and the light went on in the restaurant.

“Oh, Minjoon. 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 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 are out of garlics. Since you are here already, it would be better to peel them now rather than doing it tomorrow morning, no?

“Ha……hyung. Please Help me keep my good manners towards elders. Other hoobaes, never talk back to me when I ask 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 scary” Jo Minjoon couldn’t do anything but stared at 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 soothes him these days. Posts about dishes that he made, and the comments that gets posted on those. When he reads 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. Jo Minjoon was not a famous blogger or anything. When he was taking notes off the 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 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, but 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 .

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?

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 to late, that everyone has their own path.

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.

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