He doesn't hide anymore. He used to. But not since emerging from that depression.

It was about three years ago when I started working here, and I didn't notice anything off until about a couple of months of working with him in the Office. A vendor would drop in for a visit, and he'd send me in his stead. Customers would come in, asking a question about a specific dish, and he'd send me, or just tell the waitperson the answer.

Constantly hiding, cringing away from outside contact. It was a scary time. The change didn't really hit home until yesterday, when a customer recognised us both, and waved hello. Ordinarily, he'd wave back, and beat a hasty retreat to the basement. Yesterday, he stopped, and chatted with her for a few minutes, and then and only then, came back to the Office.

The other day, I was making a soup or stew or something or another, and the accounting people were on the phone, responding to an email I'd sent. Again, in the past, he'd have me answer the call, talk to them, and then tell him what they told me. Then, he'd think it over, come up with new questions, and have me start the whole process from the start. I said, "Just take the call, please. This is going to burn if I walk away." He did, and about half an hour later, he relayed what they'd talked about. Thank goodness he did take that call, because he brought up so many more points than I'd have known to ask, and had a very productive time of it.

Either way, it's like he's emerged from his cocoon of self-imposed exile, and it's very nice to see. Because now that he's not hiding anymore, he's also reaching out to people who drive him forward. He reconnected with an old customer, Elke, who was the force behind the repainting project. She's such a dynamic person. In a couple of hours, she can manage the job of three people.

And because he's now reaching out to more people, he's also searching, exploring, and finding all sorts of new and delicious foods to make. We've been stretching our creative boundaries, and it shows. Gone are the staid, the obvious, and the tried-and-true. He managed to create a gluten free, sugar free, soy free burger sandwich. I don't even know where he got the idea, but there it was, and it flew off the shelves. He made a gluten free quiche. And we don't have all those fancy flours (sorghum, or millet, or quinoa) and binders (xanthan gum) lying around. And yet it was divinely delicious.

Now that he's reaching out, others are reaching in, and the combination is wonderful for all of us.
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