January 22, 2015

I remember once, while sitting in the designated smoking area behind the kitchen at the Fairfield Golf and Country Club when Anny said, "One day, we'll look back on this moment and say, 'This was the best time of our lives.'"  It's funny really, not what she said, but where employee smoking sections are located.  Usually, employee smoking sections are designated to be, whether by written law or just by natural smoker migration, next to the garbage bin which may or may not be fenced in but is always hidden from the view of the customers, reason being that the garbage bin is always full of trash.  It is in my opinion that the best conversation happens beside mounds of trash. The best meditation and reflection happens beside mounds of trash. Your best friends are made amongst the mounds and mounds and mounds and mounds and mounds of trash.   

I disagreed with Anny that it was "the best time of our lives," but she wasn't all that incorrect.  I mean, I didn't think it was the best time of our lives, but I also knew that it couldn't be the worst. The worst can always get worse as it is oftentimes true that the grass is greener on the other side.  It wasn't as bad as it could have been.  I knew that. But it wasn't as good as it could have been.  It was a real rock in a hard place type of situation my mind was having right there next to the garbage bin. A conundrum of reflection and meditation between friends at the Fairfield Golf and Country Club employee smoking section.  

We had just gotten destroyed in the kitchen.  It was one of those nights where nothing worked right.  Something got burned.  Twice.  A ticket got lost in the mix of tickets.  And then the bottom dropped out. All hell had broken loose. Then someone on the waitstaff did something completely ridiculous at the worst time.  The worst had gotten worse, and everyone contributed in his/her special way.  At a nine to five, you can have a simple disagreement with a boss or maybe never meet the guy who signs the paycheck.  In the kitchen, when the boss is the chef next to you, it's common thought to want to use pans as weapons against him/her: He yells at everything because he can't beat the hell-beast that has risen before him in the form of a ticket machine.  He has zero chance.  Likewise your boss will want to use pans as weapons against you:  You are flustered because you know the hell-beast is winning the battle against your boss so you mess something up.  It can be an extremely hostile environment sometimes, an environment that has the potential to turn into a good ol' pan fight between chef boss and sous chef.  But the funny thing about kitchen work is that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how much you want to bash the guy next to you with a pan because he's having a bad night or just being a jackass in general, after the hell-beast returns to it's catacombs and the tickets have settled, after the fires from below have been set to off and the floors have been mopped, after the smoke clears and your feet are planted firmly on the earth underneath you, it's time for a break.  
You'll reflect on the entire night and try to pin point the moment when everything got so out of hand. Eventually, the conversation turns into a joke and you confess your thoughts of wanting to hit your boss with a pan.  He says the same of you. And then someone says something like, "these are the best days of our lives," and everyone laughs.  In the designated employee smoking section next to the mounds and mounds of trash you'll make your best friends hidden away from the rest of the world.  Then, it's beer time... To be continued...