Posts tagged ‘bitching’

Better Things To Do

Oh lawd. Tonight’s Sunday service sucked a big dick.
I know it’s all Labor Day and all, but really, people: howzabout you stay home and do some grilling and shit?

It was already a bad start when there were people waiting outside (and some even peering in) before we were open. I hate that. Don’t you people have better things to do than to dine at 3:30pm like a bunch of geriatrics?
And then the initial rush ended, but it was only the calm before the storm that was official dinner hour that didn’t let up until midnight. Holy crap. I didn’t even know the kitchen was supposed to be closed until Ruth mentioned making Richard (our goofy-lovable apprentice and goodnatured Sunday dishwasher) dinner and then I looked at a ticket and it was 11:58pm. What the….

As bad as it was for me for a while, Ruth had it way worse. She was getting killed and I couldn’t really help her. It was mostly pastas and sweetbreads that were bogging her down. I felt so bad every time I had to tell her to fire multiple pastas at a time. That’s the stuff that chips away at your morale: that feeling of “Didn’t I already do that” coupled with the overwhelming inner wail of “Why isn’t this over yet?” I’m pretty sure those who have paid attention have heard me singing on multiple occasions “Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop, make it stop now!”

On my side, I had multiple focaccia pickups that always had salmon dishes in between tickets so that it was always one or the other. Salmon is such a quick pickup that I can’t just make two focaccia and have it be all hunkydory. I have just enough time to roll a focaccia and throw it in the oven, slap a fish on the plancha, peek at the focaccia, turn it, flip the fish, wait a couple seconds and take it off the heat and brush it with a glaze, before I pull out the focaccia to cut in half. And then I plate the fish and finish the focaccia. It’s a pain. On top of which there are other little, easy-pickup dishes on my station. But they require me to stop what I’m doing to do them.
I’m gonna stop complaining. I didn’t have it as bad as Ruth did. By the time service was “winding down” (it never really did), she was unabashedly (and almost comically) bitter, especially about pasta. Trying to plate some cheese in the middle of fish, pasta, and ribeye pickups must’ve been hell….

Oh gahd. I work 3 Monday night. This is going to be a shitshow….

Pain Is A Constant Reminder

I had a really easy service tonight on station 3. For some reason, whole fish was popping off and I sold out all 10 of mine. Ahh, I really love it when we have dourade! It’s such a well-behaved and beautifully-cooking fish. It’s not long and unwieldy like branzino, nor is it juicy and rebellious like red snapper (it’s also hideous-looking when it’s cooked).
I also only had a one and a half third-pans of pasta all day and I was looking forward to selling it out. Sadly it didn’t happen but by the end of the night I had a half-order left. I went through my third-pan of hangar and had two trout left when the kitchen closed. Man, I was popular tonight!

I’m looking forward to my day off tomorrow. With Katie and Elliot gone we’re a little more understaffed, and then Ruth took a 5-day staycation because her friend was in town visiting, so Armanzo and I really felt the burn. On Monday I was scheduled for noon, which hasn’t happened in a long time, but Armanzo came in at 10 for a couple of days. I was a little worried for him and his health because he’s tired and he’s also trying to move out of his apartment. Oh gahd, I still have to prepare for my own move; I left a note for Jorge & Co. to please save the boxes from our Werp Farms delivieries so I could use them for packing….

I need a six-month long massage. The right side of my neck feels tight and achy and the pain is starting to radiate down my upper arm. I finally broke down and applied some of those Salonpas medicated strips, which of course don’t really do much in the long term.
Also, I fell down a couple of days ago and there’s a big ugly bruise on my knee.

I want a vacation. I’m taking one, but not until mid-August, WHICH CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH. In the meantime, I’m really freakin’ looking forward to my day off tomorrow and Sunday.

Beta Female

Don’t be alarmed since it’s long passed, but for about an hour or so today, I was really tired of being a line cook/kitchen slave and therefore, really tired of my life, and disappointed in myself for not being able to defend myself against other people’s bullshit.

Therefore I’ve decided I’ll be leaving avec this year. I’ve been maintaining a ridiculously long-distance relationship for a while now and so I’d been considering moving to be with him sometime next year. I guess it’s just time to transition now. It was due time.

That said, Monday night service was a suckfest. And then a 10-top of Asians came in and sat down at 11:40pm, just when all I really wanted to do was break down my station and go home since I had to open the next day. Sigh. The life of a line cook wannabe….

Little Musings

To the people who came in just as the kitchen was closing and at 12:58am ordered a hangar, whitefish, whole fish, and TRIED TO ORDER FOIE: you suck.

I know I’m not as spry as I used to be when I’m working and I haven’t gone to the bathroom in so long that my kidneys hurt. Urgh… it never used to be like this.

What’s more obnoxious than men who don’t take off their hats in restaurants? Women who wear hats in restaurants.

I loathe children in the diningroom. But I hate children with iPads even more. How dare you flaunt things I can’t afford?

Speaking of kids, I hate making special food for kids just because they’re kids. Hey parents, you took your children to eat at avec so don’t cop out and request that the line cooks make pizza with tomato sauce or pasta with only butter and cheese. Your kids don’t want to eat finocchiona salami or chicken & liver sausage? Take them to McDonalds next time.

It’s after midnight. What are you people still doing here eating? GO THE FUCK HOME.

Saturday service is a soul suck.

Testing The Faith

“In all the nine years that I’ve worked here, she’s the only one I feel sorry for.” -Mikie

 
[This entry about Wednesday service was written Thursday night and published Friday morning.]

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Last night was a fucking shitty night. One of the shittiest services of my life. I probably had a meltdown and everyone could see it. Remember how Tuesday night was a “turning-point”? Well, apparently it was just a foreshadower of Wednesday, which was a fucking hell-fueled, hate-filled onslaught that didn’t let up.

There’s no question of what happened. It’s what always happens. It starts out quiet and then the pace quickens. Except the dinner rush was way too fast for me to keep up. It was focaccia-flatbread city hell. In the span of about five to ten minutes, I already had 7 focaccias on the board. Opener Sylvester didn’t make the focaccia dough until after 4pm. And he’d never made the dough before. Of course the dough would be tight as fuck. And just my luck that he didn’t let the dough proof enough before he wrapped them up and put them in the walk-in. To complicate matters slightly more, Tuesday’s opener Fred made the flatbread dough and I knew Tuesday night it looked tight (even though Koren said it’d be okay by the next day), and guess what? It was deep into Wednesday night and after using up my initial good tray (a batch of Fred’s that Koren super-proofed), I dug into the slow-proofed ones and they decided they weren’t going to be my friends. As I was struggling with all these doughs and trying to sell them as fast I could, more tickets were still pouring out the ticket machine. I was still trying to delegate course firings while trying to find time in between to make all those other dishes I’m responsible for. Everytime Ruth (who was on 3) set down tickets, I inwardly cringed. Everytime I read the tickets and they were full of my dishes, my heart wilted a little more. Every ticket set me back further and further. My spirit flagged, but I forced myself to keep plugging away.

I was getting scared because I couldn’t keep up, because I wasn’t prepared for this, because no matter how fast I was moving it wasn’t making a lick of difference. I was bombarded with tickets there was no use protesting against, only adding to my growing panic. Terrified out of my mind, but with no outlet to release it to, the only way I could deal was to get frustrated and angry. When Server Mikie came up to the window and apologetically asked me if I could agree to take on a ticket for some newly seated diners WHO HAD TO BE OUT IN 30 MINUTES, I almost wailed in despair; they mostly wanted dishes off of my station. I practically begged her to try to course from the other two stations. But these people apparently didn’t eat meat so station 1 was out, and 3 had just gone through a couple of menu changes, switching out its two most popular seafood items for beef. With angry resignation at myself, I bit out, “Fine. I’ll do my fucking damnedest.” And I sent out that shit as fast as I could to get them out of my fucking sight.

Ticket after ticket after ticket…. I tried to make more than just ONE focaccia at a time, but the dough was so. fucking. tight. As soon as I finished rolling one, the one in the oven was ready for slicing open. When I tried to work the flatbread dough, it was so tight, it would stretch a bit and then tear (my only recourse was to let them sit a bit to temper and stretch them gently… imagine what it did to my patience). Koren told me I was 25 minutes behind on focaccia and they had all been inconsistent. (Even when I told her the dough was being difficult, it sounded like a lame cop-out to my ears.) I wanted to curse out Sylvester and Fred and then rip out their throats, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t their fault and every station 2 line cook before me has had to deal with shitty-ass dough. (I wondered if I was the first line cook who had to work with TWO shitty-ass doughs.) A residual cough leftover from my spring flu was acting up again and now that I was so stressed, I couldn’t stop coughing every couple of minutes. I was mortified to look so unprofessional. I tamped down the urge to cry. My mouth was parched. I’d been trying to work so hard, I didn’t even stop to drink water. When I did take the opportunity to take a couple of sips, I felt like I was brazenly stopping for an undeserved break.

When Mikie came to the window to ask how things were going, in a moment of weakness (which is kinda hysterical given how pathetic a sight I was already), I blubbered in a quivering voice how I was in hell and all I wanted to do was burst into tears on the line and how I couldn’t. I was in the middle of selling a focaccia and as I pulled the peel away, half the focaccia fell off the board. WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK?!?!?!?!?! And I still had like three more focaccia to make!!!! I had no time to waste!!! You could practically see my heart breaking. I shakily apologized and said I’d make another. Luckily Mikie insisted it could be put back together, and with Elliot’s help, the situation was righted. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to work more dough. The assault continued.

Though I struggled a great deal, I would’ve been even deeper in the weeds if not for Ruth. When I had that initial 7-focaccia pickup, she flattened down all my doughs for me. When she wasn’t busy, she helped me fire mackerel, made the anchovy flatbread, she plated a couple dishes for me too. Once when I was in the middle of rolling a focaccia but had to pause to pull out a cooked one to slice it open, she wordlessly and generously finished my rolling for me. I asked Elliot for some occasional assistance as well, plating a burrata and maybe a salad.

By the time things started slowing down, I was bone-tired and soul-weary. I hadn’t drunk enough water and was starting to develop a heat migraine. I knew I’d been terrible on the line, but I wanted some constructive criticism, so I asked Elliot, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad was I?” which got me the tepid wishy-washy response of “You’ll get better.” What, he couldn’t be honest with me? I just wanted to know how I did. I said as much, and I guess I was starting to fray at the seams and he didn’t like my indignant tone because he started to lecture me on my emotions; how I’d been angry all night (“Yes, I was infuriated!”) and throwing things around (“I was throwing things?!”) and how everyone could see me: “You have to be a leader. You have to keep it together or else the other stations will break down.”
What little fight I had left in me died and was replaced with acute disappointment. He was not wrong, but he did not help my situation. Did he even understand it? As I tidied up my station, I fought back tears and just let the waves of sadness wash over me. The service had rubbed my spirit raw, but his words had hurt me the most. I wasn’t going to cry, I told myself, I’d wait til I arrived home.

Dan Weiland came in sometime later with a junior coworker of his to eat at the chef’s table. I was happy to see him, but I wish he hadn’t come in that night. I didn’t want him to see how much service had gotten to me so I plastered a smile on my face. Elliot’s criticism had subdued me so I didn’t talk much. A couple more tickets came in, one of them for chef’s table: burrata, mackerel, and a half-focaccia. I inwardly groaned. Thankfully, that was all he’d order off my station; Dan later ordered a whitefish, a half brandade and a squid. After dinner, he bought us all a shot. He was amused I opted for tequila. I downed it but later it worsened my headache. I talked very little, pushed out food when I had to, delegated when necessary, and waited for the night to finally be over.

As service wound down, a ticket came in for a half prosciutto for someone at the bar. I made it and it was taken away. A couple minutes later another ticket came for half prosciutto, which I also sold away. A second later, barback Ryan came back saying the diner already had one, and though I was disappointed at the waste of slicing the meat and making a salad that could not be saved, I chalked it up to Mikie mistakenly ringing up two tickets, because it seemed like a little mistake she’d make. I removed the salad and put the plate of prosciutto in my lowboy.

What kills me is that twenty minutes later, server Christine called over asking about the prosciutto. I realized then that the two tickets WERE separate orders (I was stupid not to read the ticket numbers but I believed Ryan’s words). Stung by the unfairness of all the factors that had been against me all night, I started to weakly protest I’d made one…but I stopped myself. What was the use? Some diner had been waiting twenty minutes for one measly plate of prosciutto, and all the while I’d been chatting or cleaning my station. He probably wondered what was wrong with me. After hearing Christine call me out, Ryan immediately rushed over to profusely apologize. That was when I almost lost it. I started to shake like I was going to break down and cry, but somehow found the strength to tamp it down and briskly say, “No, don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault.” As soon as I sold the plate, I went to the bathroom to hide my hurt. Just cry at home, I told myself, do NOT fucking cry here. The thought steadied me.

Midnight finally rolled around and I volunteered to go downstairs and set up shoulder. I just didn’t want to be upstairs any longer. Koren was getting ready to go home. She didn’t say much to me except, “good job tonight” which was a lie so off-white it was practically brown. I just said thanks and bid her goodnight. I thought about how no one had really said much to me all night.

Elliot had biked to work so I took the train by myself. I was relieved and a little disappointed. It was for the best though, my headache was killing me and I didn’t feel like talking.

When I finally got home an hour later, I heated up a little brown rice in the microwave while I cooked an egg. I hadn’t eaten all night, and I hate taking medicine on an empty stomach. Watching the egg, I started recalling all the night’s bullshit that had descended upon me. I cooked the egg while tears streamed down my face, and ate my sad dinner as I quietly sobbed.

Thankfully this story has a slightly happy ending. Around 3AM I got a text from Ruth with really kind words and advice that made me feel better. She’d experienced 2 herself a couple of weeks ago and every nice thing she said (“Good job tonight! The wheels did not fall off the bus! You shall prevail! Just wait until you have Armanzo stabbing tickets in the window, ha!”) was like soothing balm to my soul. I never saw how many covers we did that night but chances are, it was probably a normal Wednesday number, and it was only I who had struggled alone. A more seasoned line cook like Elliot probably would’ve handled tonight with more aplomb and grace, but it’s like he’s so experienced now, so far removed from the line cook’s initial apprehensions to unfamiliar territory, that when he’d said “You’ll get better” earlier that night, it sounded perfunctory and hollow. He’d had no empathy, which was all I really wanted.

Well, I’m on 3 the rest of this week, but I’ll probably see time on 2 the first three days of next week. Like I said in a facebook post I’d made, “…It’s okay. I’ll keep taking it until I get better, or I vomit blood. It’s looking 50-50 right now.”

Taking It Too Easy

My Tuesday opener went swell today. Well, it was all peachy keen until around 6pm Sylvester asked me about the ramps and charred spring onion that go into the pasta. Which I didn’t do. Because they’re not on the list. Well, ramps aren’t. But Buth crossed off charred onion on the list so I assumed all was fine but if Sylvester’s asking for them…. I hauled ass and got them done. Dammit. Oh well, whatever. They’re done.

Pistachio puree also took a lot of my time because I was having three peel pistachios to get the job done faster, but even so, peeling blanched pistachios isn’t a quick job.

I work Station 2 again tomorrow. Not looking forward to it, but biting the bullet anyway. Fear is the mind killer… I am already thinking up Dune references in my head…. (It’s been a long time since I last referenced the book!)

But out of all this, what I’m most upset/troubled over is that today was Elliot’s day off and he invited me to hang out with him and Marcus at the Orbit Room after my opener. And I would have LOVED to go, but I had to decline because I came to work dressed in a Spiderman tee, a fuchsia peasant skirt, and powder pink Converse Chucks. Honestly I looked like an overgrown high-schooler. I could not go out to a cool social event looking like I did. And I live too far away to do a quick-change and do meet-and-greets. Goddammit. I admit it made me a little sad to miss out with potential bonding time with the cool kids. Especially since Elliot’s leaving soon. Arrrrrrgh. I left work a little sad over this non-encounter, which resulted in me being even sadder because I tried to go through my (nearly empty) mental rolodex of friends who might want to meet and hang with me, but I came up with nothing because I have no friends. Okay, that’s not true, but if one of your friends has a kid, your other friend is joined at the hip with his girlfriend, and your other good friend is currently without a cellphone, and your best friend currently resides in New York, it’s nearly the same as having no friends.

Is it better to just be friends with people at work? How is that even possible when most of them are working when you’re available and vice versa? Sigh.

Fever Do Tell

Who worked Station 3 tonight with a fever of 101°F?

I did!

Who’s been battling this flu-like illness since Wednesday night?

Me!

Who has to work tomorrow, whether or not the fever goes away?

Why, I do!

Granted, Elliot let me go home an hour before we usually shut down, but I think I was a trouper. Despite all the death glares I gave people. Sorry, guys, it’s either I clamp down my mouth and frown to tamp down the waves of nausea, or I smile and vomit on you.

It’s times like these I wish I didn’t work in this kind of industry, and that I didn’t feel like some skilled laborer. But oh well, tomorrow’s another day…. Mlurf.