2 CH2: Box of Surprise

    "Food is a great way of communicating!"

    - Jan Karon


    The warm Friday sun from the sunny sky beat down on the pavement. There were few clouds in the sky, and there was a little wind blowing through the trees that lined the pavement. 'The weather is just nice', Delilah thought to herself as she parked her car in the parking lot at the supermarket 15 minutes from her house.

    It was finally her day off from work, after weeks of mentoring a new employee in her department.

    One of the seniors in her department had suddenly decided to retire early, so it was a bit hectic at the office. Delilah and her colleagues had spent months selecting and interviewing candidates until they finally found someone who fit their criteria.

    The new employee, named Shazzy, was a pretty girl with a bobbed hairstyle and big, bright eyes. She was a cheerful girl who was always smiling, which was why Delilah had chosen her for the job. Though, she also loved to daydream on the job. Hence, another reason why Delilah didn't have the heart to take a day off.

    Over these past few days, Delilah had been under a lot of stress after dealing with the new employee and other matters. Howard, her supervisor, had to push her to take a day off.

    So, here she was, in the parking lot of the supermarket.

    Although, she was on her day off, she could not help feeling somewhat guilty. This was her first time not being there to supervise her new junior, so she was a bit worried that soon, chaos would occur at the office.

    It was not that she did not trust her new junior, but she could see that Shazzy was not ready yet. It was evident just by how Shazzy still kept asking questions on how to do this and how to handle that, even if Delilah had already told her numerous times before.

    Delilah walked briskly towards the entrance of the supermarket after she locked her car. She slung her handbag over one shoulder, keeping her mobile phone in one hand. Today, she was in such a good mood that she decided to cook dinner for her family. She tapped her index finger on her chin as she headed towards the trolley cart area, thinking about what to cook. She grabbed a cart and went inside the supermarket.

    She was about to go to the fresh meat aisle when her phone rang.

    Delilah looked down at her phone and found that it was her junior who was calling her.

    "Hello?" she answered, cautiously.

    A loud wail screamed in her ear. Delilah winced, pulling the phone away from her ear.

    "Senior Delilah! Help me!" Shazzy cried out. "I... I... the report... I mean, the document... I... I..." she stammered out in a rush, gasping.

    Delilah quickly pushed the cart aside and went to look for a bench to sit down. "Wait, wait...! Calm down first!"

    She found one, just near the entrance, and waited for Shazzy to calm down. When she finally quieted down, Delilah asked, "Okay, tell me slowly... What's happening?"

    Shazzy let out a long breath. "Well, Matt came by earlier today, asking for the vendor's purchase order. At first, I didn't know which purchase order he meant by. Apparently, it was the purchase order from Armadia Enterprise."

    "Ah, I see," Delilah said. "What about it?"

    Shazzy sniffed. "I accidentally placed it on the pile that was ready to be shred. Before I could take the paper back, the pile was already taken away and was shredded. What am I going to do?" Shazzy wailed in tears. "Matt is going to be so mad at me! I can't afford to lose this job!"

    Delilah rubbed her forehead with her other hand in dismay, trying to understand the situation. She sighed out loud. "Okay, just calm down for a moment and let me think."

    Delilah could still hear Shazzy's sniffing on the other end of the phone.

    After a few minutes, Delilah then recalled something. She quickly said on the phone, "Shazzy, listen to me. Go to my cubicle and switch on the computer."

    Then there were sounds of shuffling on the other end, followed by the sound of the computer being switched on. And then Shazzy returned back on the call and asked, "Senior, there's a password restriction here. What should I do?"

    Delilah quickly recited the password, while making a mental reminder to change the password tomorrow.

    Once Shazzy had successfully logged on to the computer, Delilah quickly told her what to do. Luckily, Delilah just recalled that this exact purchase order from Armadia Enterprise was also sent to  her email. So Shazzy was able to quickly find the document and print another copy of it.

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    Shazzy then wailed in happiness. "Oh god! Thank you, Senior! If it wasn't for you, I think I would not have been able to meet you again tomorrow!" she cried, implying that she could have gotten fired for this mistake.

    Delilah sighed in relief and replied, "Aiya you! Don't exaggerate so much! Now, go on and continue your work. Just text me or call me again if you need any help!"

    "I will! I will! Thank you again!"

    Delilah hung up the call and retrieved the abandoned cart. She continued on to the Fresh Meat aisle, placing her phone inside her handbag.

    After getting all the ingredients for grilled chicken, a potato salad, and fried rice, she went home with a satisfied smile on her face.

    Back home, she removed her groceries from the recyclable bag in the kitchen and rearranged them on the table. She then placed bowls, utensils and plates for her to use.

    First, she washed the rice and placed it inside the rice cooker. She switched it on and left it aside to cook.

    Grabbing the whole chicken from the bag, she began marinating it. She spread lemon juice all over the chicken, adding some unsalted butter and balsamic vinegar into the mix. She then poured in brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. And as a final touch, she added in some of her favourite herbs such as parsley, oregano and rosemary. She loved the smell of aromatic herbs. The chicken was then placed inside a sealed bag and into the fridge.

    Next, she began peeling the potatoes, cutting them into smaller pieces and placing them into a pot filled with boiling water. She then reduced the heat and covered the pot with a lid.

    While she was waiting for the potatoes to boil and the rice to be cooked, she spent some time looking through her social media and watching some cooking videos. She loved these kinds of videos. She loved how the chef could always make the cooking seem so easy and how animated they became because of their love for cooking.

    A few minutes later, the rice cooker gave out a 'ping' sound, indicating that the rice was done. Ignoring that for a moment, Delilah went to the fridge and took out the marinated chicken. She placed the marinated chicken onto a baking tray and set it inside the pre-heated oven.

    She then continued on to the potatoes. Testing the potatoes with a fork, she felt that they were tender enough. She drained the pot and set it aside to cool. In another bowl, she poured in some mayonnaise, salt and pepper, onions, cut pickles and boiled cut eggs. She finally added the cooled potatoes and slowly stirred the mixture. She then placed the salad into the fridge to let it chill. To be honest, it would have been better if she could chill it for more than 6 hours, but hopefully, 2 hours would be alright too.

    Next was the fried rice. She grabbed a wok and placed it on the stove. She then poured a bit of cooking oil into the wok and added in crushed garlic and sliced onions. She stir-fried the garlic and onions, before adding in the beaten eggs. The aroma of the stir-fried garlic and onions filled the air.

    She then quickly added in the cooked rice and some fried rice seasoning. After stirring the rice, she covered the wok with a lid. She breathed in the smell and sighed in satisfaction. 'I can't wait to dig in!' she thought. She could smell the "smoky" smell of the rice being cooked over a wok and its savoury aroma.

    An hour and a half later, the chicken was done, 'grilled to perfection' Delilah thought proudly as she took her beautiful dish out of the oven. The skin was crispy all over, with a tangy yet zestful smell emanating from the chicken. When she cut some parts of the chicken, the tender and lush meat juices flowed down to the tray. Not wanting to waste any of  it, she quickly placed the chicken onto a serving plate and poured the remaining juice all over the chicken.

    Delilah was setting up the table, placing all the plates and the utensils, when the doorbell rang.

    She looked up with a frown. 'Now, who could that be at this hour?'

    She went out of the kitchen and headed towards the front door. She stood up on her tip-toes, peeking through the peep-hole. Her eyes widened when she saw who her visitor was.

    She swung open the door. "Shazzy?!? What are you doing here??"

    With a sheepish smile on her face, Shazzy said, "Hello, Senior Delilah. Hope you don't mind me dropping in," with both of her hands behind her back. It seemed like she was holding something behind her. "I asked for your address from Senior Firah. Again, I hope you don't mind."

    Delilah tilted her head, with a confused look on her face. "What is this about?" she asked again. "Is there something wrong?"

    Suddenly, a box appeared in front of her face. She blinked her eyes in surprise. She peered from behind the box at Shazzy. "What's this?"

    "It's my thank you gift for earlier today. Senior Firah told me about your love for red velvet cupcakes. So, I bought them for you as my thanks. Well, not just for today but also for the past few weeks that you have guided me. I know you hadn't had a chance to take any leave ever since I came so... yeah..."

    Delilah was left speechless and moved by her kind gesture. She really did not expect this at all. "Um... I don't know what to say but thank you."

    Shazzy grinned, showing her bright teeth, obviously pleased by Delilah's response. "It's not a problem!" She then waved goodbye to her. "Goodnight and enjoy!"

    Delilah waved back, wishing her safe travels. She closed the door, then leaned against it, opening the lid of the box. Beautiful moist red velvet cupcakes with their light and rich cream cheese frosting greeted her.

    She picked one from the box and took a bite. She could taste a slight mix of vanilla and chocolate from the cake exploding wonderfully in her mouth, as well as the hint of lemon from the rich cream cheese frosting. It tasted incredibly soft when she bit into it, stimulating her taste buds.

    "Food is DEE-finitely a great way of communicating," she said softly to herself as she walked back to the kitchen, carrying her box of goodies.
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