Watch Your Step: culture vs. the Restaurant
The other day, when I slipped in a puddle of olive oil while doing a rushed trot up the stairs at my “other” job, I was comforted by the knowledge that culture is part of my life. As I fell, the dirty glassware in my hands crashed to the ground in an epic display of noise. Menus slipped out from under my elbow and slid back down the stairs. As is typical in my life at the restaurant, EVERYONE was watching. Managers zoomed in for damage control, picking up debris as I got to my feet and apologized “wow, that olive oil slick is pretty serious…” etc. They asked me if I was alright (the only answer is YES), and told me to tuck in my shirt.
I pictured them all in a closed room, laughing maniacally as they crossed my name off of a giant list of “people worth keeping around.”
Then I remembered that I work for culture and I felt better. My hand-eye-foot coordination certainly takes sabbaticals, but when I go home from the restaurant, smelling like a kitchen, with unidentified sauces patterning my blacks, and my dignity compromised by those old ladies who gave me hell, I sit down at my computer, and do my culture thing. To be dramatic about it: culture is my secret weapon!
The fact is, my two jobs complement each other well. There’s a lot to like about waiting tables, especially at a good restaurant (such as my place of work). There is a mountain to learn about food and wine, and working for a chef who knows what he’s doing is a privilege (no matter how scary he is). Plus, cheese is everywhere in a restaurant! I’m filled with glee seeing the pile of cheeses in the walk-in, and answering questions about our cheese plate to patrons (even with my minimal knowledge).
Oddly, what I like most about the restaurants I’ve worked at is that who you are in your “regular” life is irrelevant once you don your apron. Nobody gives a rat’s who you are, how many squalling children you have, how much you drank last night, or what you do in your spare time, as long as you can keep it together through a shift (sometimes a challenging task) I can’t throw down my rag and yell “do you KNOW who I work for?!” whenever someone reads me the riot act (ahem, which is often…there’s a lot of charm to being the new girl, let me tell you). I do know that my boss reads and likes culture, and somehow, through my resentment, I enjoy that he doesn’t seem to give a crap that my name is on it.