November 2, 2013 by briantshock
My first job was in the back of a chain restaurant. I won’t say which one, but its name contains a weekday, hint hint. Actually, I guess that could still be a couple of options, but I guess that works out since I won’t say which one. Where was I going with this?
Oh right, now I remember. I was going to deliver some truths about working in the back of the restaurant. I held the position of dishwasher before graduating to prep cook after four months, which I had for another nine months or so, giving me over one year of experience. Naturally that makes me an expert in the area, so it’s time to serve up some restaurant facts.
FACT # 1 – YOUR SHOES WILL SUCCUMB TO TERRIBLE ODOR
It’s really hard to describe the foul stench that will entrench your ugly, non-slip shoes. Smells of all manner of food items join together and stick to the rubber, creating a horrible amalgam of funk. The kitchen floors are often way more wet than they have any good reason being, necessitating the need for the non-slip bottom and also introducing a level of moisture for your feet and the stuck-on food smells exacerbating an odor that really didn’t need any help to begin with.
Here’s a free tip for you: keep these things in the trunk of your car. You don’t want this heinous stink anywhere near human life in your vehicle.
FACT # 2 – THE SWEARING AND VULGARITY WILL SUPPLANT ANY SEMBLANCE OF MEANINGFUL HUMAN INTERACTION
Working in the back of the restaurant will undoubtedly expose you to some colorful characters. By “colorful”, I am of course using a euphemism to describe their language. I guarantee you’ll learn some foul things you didn’t even know there were words for. You might think Gordon Ramsay screaming in people’s faces and swearing at them is shocking, but that’s par for the course.
You will also hear way more than you need to know about your colleagues’ private lives. God forbid if a female employee in the restaurant gets pregnant. Suddenly everybody becomes a private investigator and accusations start flying.
FACT # 3 – STAYING OUT OF THE LOWEST POSITION IS CRITICAL
Being the low-man on the totem pole is rarely an advantageous position in any context, but in the restaurant, it can be especially fraught with peril. Let me tell you a story about my old friend Jeff.
Jeff was a relatively new recruit to the restaurant family, so he was cutting his teeth washing the dishes. Jeff was a real happy-go-lucky guy; always in a cheery mood and clowning around and swearing with the rest of the crew. One night in the middle of a particularly busy service, the floor manager entered the kitchen with a grim expression on his face. He went over to Jeff, who stopped the spray hose to hear this guy out.
“One of the toilets is clogged,” the manager whispered, “we’re going to need you to go take care of it.”
Jeff put up a bit of a protest, but acknowledged that this was his lot and took the plunger to the restroom. A few minutes later he came back, distraught, and went back to the manager, indicating that the tools at his disposal were ineffective. Our manager then handed him a pair of long rubber gloves, obviously the last resort in situations like these.
Jeff did not say another word for the rest of his shift that night.