Going to the grocery store on Monday to pick up some chocolate lava cakes for wrestling, I ran into yet another memory.
I’ve talked about working at the restaurant when I was going through college a great deal (ad nauseum, I’m sure some would say), but it was a very, very awesome job for someone in his early 20’s to be working. I was constantly surrounded by high quality food, the gender ratio for working the counter was skewed heavily, and the tip jar usually had some decent money in it at the end of the day (somewhere between 10 and 15 bucks during the week and more on Saturday).
Well, anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows how chaotic and mercurial the kitchen staff can be (especially the culinary geniuses back there). The boss and his sous chef worked a tight ship back there and I went from being the FNG to being the guy whose name they were willing to learn to being one of the trusted employees who could be expected to maybe not screw something up.
Well, at one point, the sous chef told the boss “hey, in two weeks, I’m going on vacation back to Mexico to visit family” and the boss said “you can’t go! You’re too important! If you go, you’re fired!” “you can’t fire me, I quit!” and the sous chef went back to Mexico to visit family for two weeks. Well, two weeks later, the sous chef came into work, and started doing his job and he didn’t say a thing to the boss. The boss didn’t even acknowledge the sous chef. Like, they worked around each other just *NOT TALKING*. They would call me into the kitchen though and tell *ME* stuff. “We need more steaks prepped for the lunch rush!” and other such things that, normally, they never told the counter staff because they’d discuss it with each other. But, of course, they weren’t talking. So they told me. And I just nodded and kept quiet and the other one would do the prep for the rush.
They were like this for THREE DAYS.
They were talking to each other again by the end of the week, if a bit cold, and everything was back to normal the following Monday.
Well, on Monday, I was picking up the lava cakes and I heard “hey, Jaybird!” and I turned around and it was the sous chef! Seriously, I hadn’t seen him since… 1996? 1997? I gave him a big hug and asked him how he was and he told me about how he opened his own place (with 15 or 16 cooks) but that got too stressful after a couple of years and so now he had a business repairing restaurant equipment and now he is *MUCH* happier (though, he pointed out as he gave me his number, he does catering) and I told him that I use the stuff he taught me every time I cook meat or make salad dressing. And I thanked him for teaching me those things. And he smiled.
So I’m probably going to stop by the restaurant this weekend while I’m out running my errands and see if the boss is in and tell him “thank you” for teaching me all of the stuff he taught me. I don’t think I ever thanked him.
So… what’s on your docket?
(Image is “Play” by Clare Briggs. Used with permission of the Briggs estate.)