Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pin the Blame on the Donkey

It's no secret that I'm about as disenfranchised with my job as one human being can get. Probably the wonderment lies in why I have failed* to rectify the situation. (* FAIL is the word of the night kids. Get ready to scream Pee Wee Herman style) Well, after this weekend, I have moved from passively seeking a new job to buckling down and aggressively finding anything.

On Friday night, the general manager of the Hell's Kitchen grabbed the four main cooks in the building and sat each of us down for a private 'back to Jesus speech'. And, I'll admit, she was right in every respect...except, she was seriously in the wrong. Keep your hands and arms inside the car at all times folks, and I'll try not to throw this train of thought off track for you.

After my talking-to, I was suitably chastized for about 5 minutes. But, as the others were pulled out, I got to wondering if everyone was getting a different variation of the same song and dance I had just been handed. (After comparing notes later, this was confirmed for me) And of course, me being me, I went from humble to indignant faster than Madonna adopts third world children to save her failing public image.

Each of us was pulled to the side because, in one fashion or another, we had become so frustrated with our environment that we had begun airing our griefs outloud. We were given a lot of: "We expect better from you" and "You know better", etc, etc, etc.

All true. I have been loud and boisterous at work, as of late. I'm frustrated and tired of being frustrated, but I do know better than to spout off about everything and lose my mind in front of the entire kitchen. So do the other guys that got the same hat handed to them.

Yet, this begs to question: if four guys with roughly 20 years experience in this line of work, who all know better, are acting this way... Why is it happening at all?

My personal speech actually consisted of the GM saying: "I can see you are frustrated. I need you to either stop being frustrated or hold inside."

Say what?!

And, here is my problem... There are problems in the kitchen. And, these problems are the reason I am frustrated. Do I know better than to air my frustrations for the general populace? I do. But, as the GM, shouldn't you be solving these frustrations, rather than playing on my work ethic and trying to guilt me into silence?

Oh wait, that would require an actual effort on your part and some self-introspection into the fact that you were the one failing at your job, not us. But, you'd rather take the easy road and lay the blame on four guys 'that should know better'.

I worked with a guy tonight that told me his mother's favorite expression was: "You can explain yourself to Jesus. I just want to see results." I fucking like that. Shit or get off the pot, but eloquent.

As someone that has worked on both sides of the fence in the food service industry, I can say fairly and without hesitation, that frustrated employees are the fault of piss-poor management. Always.

Frustration? The kitchen manager is older than dirt and screams at everyone else for making their part of each check faster than she can do her part. God forbid we make her seem incompetnent.

Frustration? The kitchen manager holds her job due to tenure and not from actual knowledge of managing. This bitch screams about food cost, but has NO IDEA of how to actually control it. How about we write down recipes with portion sizes, rather than screeching about people making shit different everytime? You know... like a real restaurant?

Frustration? I arrive to work everyday in a freshly pressed clean uniform, only to work along side people that are in jeans and T-shirts that aren't being sent home.

Frustration? I am asked to work beside clowns, not cooks. These guys aren't fit to hold my spatula between orders. Seriously.

Frustration? Being asked to create a new and exciting feature dish with the same 7 fucking ingredients. Because, ordering anything different requires a manager to stop eating their free fucking meal and work.

Frustration? A kitchen manager that insists on doing certain things herself, and never doing them, simply because she feels that holding back that information will secure her job and make her seem indispensable.

Frustration? Being asked to man 5 of the 7 stations in the kitchen at once, because, again, the other cooks can't cook.

Frustration? Watching the dish I just prepared sit in the window and get gamey because you refuse to have food runners, but also refuse to keep track of where your servers are at any given moment. Most likely they're either outside smoking during dinner, or your moronic hostesses have triple sat them for no real clear reason.

The reality is: when the people that are holding you aloft are failing at their jobs, it's because you are failing at yours. You can not pull your veteran staff aside and ream them out, one at time, for being frustrated, simply to avoid your job. Because, your job is to relieve those frustrations. It's your job to send home the morons that aren't in uniform, that don't pull their weight, that aren't doing their jobs.

And really, despite the fact that I'm blowing off steam and getting loud and proud... I am doing my job. The orders are being filled in a timely manner. The food I'm cooking is above par. Nothing is being sent back because it's crap. I'm cooking. That's my job.

Your job is to manage. And, when you have four guys, all with a wealth of kitchen history, airing the same frustrations and losing their minds at the same time... it isn't time for you to bring them back into the fold. It's time for you to step up to the plate and hit a fucking homerun.

I'm personally insulted that I was called into question. I'm personally insulted that someone threw my work ethic back in my face as a means to insinuate that I wasn't doing my job, only because it made their job easier. I'm personally insulted that I give my job 100% everytime I walk through the door, despite the fact that I hate it, only to have someone deride me so that they don't have to give the same effort.

You are a bright and shining light of stupidity in a sea of ineptitude when you try and lay your problems at my feet. But, honestly, that ship has sailed. I could do your job. That's a fact. You can't do mine. Also a fact.

I'm done. I quit. The first place that offers me something comparable to what you are paying me has just gained themselves a new employee. One that does his job. One that follows the chain of command, until it falls on deaf ears. One that understands the difference between a restaurant and a place that happens to sell food for money. One that is used to a professional environment.

Fuck you. Fuck you. You're cool. And fuck you...

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