As Tommy Lee Jones (sort of) once said... "if that wasn't a busy week, it'll do til' the busy comes along".
Certainly the case in the Smokehouse, as we ticked through our 10,000 app order at the weekend. While the number makes a good headline, to us, it was far more meaningful.
Coming pretty much a year after we first went into national lockdown, it's a number I didn't think we'd see. The massive effort expended in the 2 years before that and the growing momentum, positivity and opportunity we were seeing simply hit a brick wall.
If you've ever had that dread feeling when you're a passenger in a crash, that's what it felt like in the few weeks leading up to the 16th March. We watched the wave of national lockdowns spreading across mainland Europe and held on to the vain hope that our nature as an "Island Nation" would somehow help fend off the threat.
Vain indeed. The subsequent weeks in March and April were brutal. We cancelled our scheduled Masterclasses and smokehouse parties. We had events we were supporting in-turn cancelled. There was cold comfort in knowing it was the right thing to do.
Starting any food business is tough. Starting a food business which uses more costly raw ingredients and is committed to more costly but environmentally sound materials is even tougher. Trying to sustain this fledgling food business in the face of the unprecedented events this past year, requires new forms of experimental mathematics to work out the correct level of toughness.
Every time we receive an order in the smokehouse a little orange box on our counter ticks.
It's essentially our heartbeat. Now imagine you start to hear your own heartbeat slowing and stuttering. You find yourself doing some horrible calculations to extrapolate how long you have left.
That's where we were, as we moved somewhat numbly through April 2020. Worried about our livelihood, our families and our pit crew.
Then some strange things started to happen. Folks stuck in doors wanted to treat themselves a little. Going out even for essential food shopping was daunting and felt fraught. Travelling outside your immediate vicinity was forbidden and we naturally focused inwards. We saw the beginning of the groundswell that became the "Support Local" movement.
Then, slowly at first, the stutter dissipated and our heartbeat started to strengthen. Even the lack of laces (considered non-essential at the time) didn't seem to weigh so heavily in the smokehouse.
So we started adapting and overcoming. The Borg had nothing on us. We cut out what we didn't need and focused on what we could do. We got some government help and folks continued to go out of their way to support us and the other local businesses.
We gave back a little too, trying to support essential workers and raising money for local community support. Dickens really said it best, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
So as order 10,000 ticked by, it wasn't just a number to us. It was our 10,000 heartbeat. With some light on the horizon, it was hope of brighter things to come. Of less survive and more strive.
For the first time I can remember I can say "see you in the smokehouse" and mean it. It was 10,000 reasons to be cheerful.