Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The end of an era

Yesterday I quit my job. I feel great. You should too.

First a little background: I have been working there at the cafe since January of 2005. Almost every day my boss, Nathalie the Phsycologically Disturbed Progressive Democratic Nazi, would find something to complain about, somebody to ream. I felt that I would try to redirect her energies into more positive avenues, such as food. I don't even know why she has a restaurant, because to me it doesn't seem like she likes food. I love food. I love the farmer's market and the farmers, I love cooking for friends and family, I love the colors, textures, and flavors. I just dig edible stuff. So you'd think working at a small cafe right across from where I live would be a good thing, right? Wrong, man. Wrongo.

NPDPDN and her husband would constantly fight, even screaming at each other about ten feet away from paying eating customers. I honestly thought they were going to get a divorce, I don't even understand why they haven't gotten a divorce with all the pressure. Her husband doesn't even want to be there. He hates the customers.

And there was the heat and the filth and the grease and the mess and the mouse shit and the mice. Those were the physical things that bothered me, but that I thought could be fixed at some point. I also wanted to steer the food toward organic and vegetarian fare, and I didn't want to use bagged mashed potatoes and soup. What the hell is the point of convenience when the whole purpose of the business is to create good food? I wanted to cook, not dish up one more goddamn pot roast with fried potatoes for one more white-haired bitchy welfare sucking blue-brained sycophant debutante geezer. So I had my own problems.

The main mental strain came about because there were a few good things about the place, sort of. Pretty good wage. I had ample time off (not paid). Free food. That's about it, and I didn''t like the free food.

But NPDPDN would compliment me sometimes, make me feel she cared, then yell at me for some dumb thing that I messed up or wasn't even involved with. There were a number of times I came home ready to just quit. But I hung in there, because maybe things would get better.

NPDPDN: I was talking about how all my pets were tragically killed and she said, "You should not have pets. Wouldn't you get a clue after the first few were killed?" And she wasn't joking. That is probably the worst thing anybody has ever said to me. And she didn't apologize. And that same day I came home to find out that one of my best friends had killed herself. There is something about that connection that really stands out in my head.

She fed squirrels out the back door, and had names for them. She liked them more then her staff. I don't really like squirrels. In the city, they are fat indolent scavengers. She would alway tell me to come here so I could see one of them come into the building. I always smiled politely and tried to get back to work. I'm sick of being polite.

She would leave used paper towels everywhere. She would leave messes in my workspace. She and her husband and the staff ate soup and pot roast out of the container, dipping bread directly into the food. Not sanitary at all. They wouldn't clean the baskets for bread or fries ever, don't ask me why. Fish and meat were left out for hours. And so on. One man can only do so much to change the direction a ship is sailing. I tried, but it was like cleaning diaper, smelly and never ending.

The husband never yelled at me. He got mad and told her and she would yell at me or others. That was his way of staying uninvolved. He would storm around furiously for reasons I don't even know.

Every machine would break down every week. The new freezer broke down immediately. Coolers couldn't keep the food cool. And so forth. I could go on indefinitely but I will just tell you what happened at the end.

I went on break for fifteen minutes. I came back and they were both in the kitchen, facing away from me. I started to wash my hands and hear Nathalie say, "When that fucking dumbass comes back I'm going to give him a piece of my mind." I look at her and she turns around, somewhat startled to find me there, and she tells me I am in big trouble. And I say, "What?" I have no idea. The husband is sweeping and there is water on the floor, but the cooler had been doing that all summer so I thought nothing of it. And Nathalie says something like,"I can't believe you didn't notice the cooler was warm, I can't believe it, I just can't, never in my life, there is no excuse!" And I just don't even know what to say. She's picking up stuff and trying to make a point and I'm blanking out. In essence she's blaming me for a piece of eqiupment failure, at least for not noticing the failure of said piece of equipment. Fine. Maybe she has a point, maybe a should have noticed that a cooler was not working in a kitchen that is a hundred degrees without air conditioning, two loud fans on, and me being totally overworked every day, used like a mule. The temp guage is inside this custom made cooler, so I would have had to take out a drawer and peered into the depths of the machine to casually check the temp, even though I had no reason to and you can't tell what the temp reading is anyway becasue it's too far back inside. So I said, "Well..." and I was going to say something like this thing had happened and I will try to help fix it but all we can do is work to make it better. Basically there is no reason to go ballistic ever, really, in a business. I did not deserve such total disprespect after the hard work I have put in for them. She interrupted me and said, "No, don't say a word, I don't want to hear!" She said it in such a flagrantly condescending manner that that was it for me, I wasn't going to be called names behind my back and be discounted as a human being. Everybody has the right to be respected as a human. So I said, "Fuck you, fuck this place, and fuck it all!" And I chucked my apron down and left. And that was it for me. If they want to apologize then maybe I will work a little more for them. But I know them well enough to realize that they are complaining about me to all the other staff, calling me names, and they have moved on and this is just another bump in their Idot's Road to Hell.

So this is what I learned in the last 3 years:

You need to have a plan of where you want to be in three years.

I am a hard worker that can tolerate most anything, psychological or physical.

Your co-workers are the most important part of a job.

I am an artist, and I should behave like one.

Let that be a lesson to you. Don't allow anyone to treat you badly. They can treat themselves as badly as they want, but you are worthy of respect, just by being alive.

1 comment:

JB aka JayBee said...

Amen! Brother, and good riddance to bad rubbish. The job was convenient for you, being so close to where you live and all, but hey, you are free now to find a place to work that values you for who you are and what you can do. Find a place where respect is given and expected in turn.

You can do it.

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