Monday, August 13, 2007

Why I do what I do

In 2002 I was a line cook at a fancy restaurant in a 4 star hotel (Meritage, at the Boston Harbor Hotel, if your curious). I was on track to be made a chef in their organization, if your not familiar with the industry, line cooks are like the infantry, sous chefs are like sergeants, head chefs are the generals, things were going well for my career, but things were hard. I had been married for a few years at this point and had resigned myself to this career path, I was going to put my all into it, after all, I did love, and still love to cook. Besides, saying your a professional cook does have it's sex appeal.

Those of us in the food service industry know the hours can be hard, heck, one time I came in for dinner service, a shift which starts at 3pm, and was snookered into manning the overnight room service shift with the promise of the next day off. Well the next morning, at 5:30am, I get the word that the breakfast cook can't make it in (mind you the breakfast cook covers lunch, and then preps until, you guessed it, 3pm). I came into the hotel an experienced breakfast service cook, 6 years experience in that alone, they were in a pinch, I agreed to work, but only until noon. It must have been around 10:30 when I finally snapped and started getting wildly irritable, the rash in my shorts had gone long past the point where cornstarch could do anything to help, in fact, I think I made bread down there. Service had slowed down at this point and I was set free at 11. 18 hours of work, 45 minutes there and back, as much as I loved to cook, I also loved being home with my wife, and frankly, she was not liking the scarcely seen, cranky asshole who smelled like a kitchen mat who came home every night.

In February of 2002 I rolled into work, and was getting into my uniform in the locker room, when my friend Hugh, the Saucier says, "what the hell you doin here? You have the day off! You wanna work so bad, I'll go home and you stay", turns out I hadn't checked the schedule that week, and I did indeed have the day off. It was a very snowy day, in fact, blizzard like conditions, the second blizzard that week, however, there are few things in the world I like more than sitting in my house on a snow day, enjoying a beer and watching the snow's a New England thing I guess. I knew I had a 12 pack of beer in the fridge, and I just got a 24 hour furlough from work, things were coming up Devilham!

I live in a section of Boston called Jamaica Plain, lots of green space, lots of parks, and my house abutted one of these parks, in fact, I had to walk through one to get to the train station. As I approached my house, barely a hundred yards from my door, I stepped on a patch of ice covered by a layer of snow. My leg shot forward, knocking me off balance, but then caught cement, and stopped short. Crack-CRACK! Went my leg! Even as I fell, I thought, oh man, this is not good.

Did I mention it was a blizzard?? Know how many people frequent the park during a blizzard?? Damn near no one! I looked down and my leg was bent in an unnatural position, fantastic I thought. Crawling to the street to get help was out of the question, I made it about 4 inches and found the pain so bad that I figured I would pass out and they wouldn't find me until the spring thaw. Back then I was one of those folks who never carried a cell phone, I didn't want people bugging me all hours of the day! leave me be I'd say! You can bet your bottom dollar I don't leave the house with out one these days! I laid in the snow for 45 minutes yelling for help. Turns out falling snow muffles sound, isn't that a fun fact? Anywho, my nextdoor neighbor ended up taking her dog for a walk in the park, and finally found me. I remember her asking me if I was sure my leg was broken, and thinking, wow, what a stupid question, should I tell her "no, I have a superflous knee", but I bit my tounge instead...discretion is the better part of valor as they say

I will tell the tale of the hospital in a future post, it's quite the story, but to wrap up the main gist of the post, with a rod and five pins in my right leg, I can't stand on my feet for 18 hours anymore. I was out of work for 11 months and had time to go to school for IT (ah school, you are wasted on the young, or at least I wasted you when I was young, I would give my other leg up to take some more schooling, perhaps some history?). I got an IT certification and now work at an accounting firm as desktop support. So many people ask me why I do this, when I had such a cool job before, and don't I hate wearing a shirt and tie? Quite simply, working for over a decade wearing a dirty napkin for a uniform, and getting cut and burned on a regular schedule, well shit. That gets old


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I worked in food service for about a year and a half when I was in high school. There was no way I wanted to do it for a living.

Devilham said...

You know, for all it's drawbacks, I did have fun. You can say damn near anything in a kitchen and get away with it, yell at people (not that that's my thing, I'm just saying is all), give em the business, etc. It's a crazy lifestyle, and it did have it's appeal. It's a young mans game though, and I am getting long in the tooth.