Days 121 – 125

“There’s pizza upstairs,” Jared announced in passing. “Paula brought it in for us,” added Sami. “No… Jared made it…” Whether that came from me or Sam, I can’t remember now, but Jared came back and found us arguing over where the pizza had come from. Sami insisted we were all lying to her. Jared claimed he’d come in at 8 and made pizza on his own time, “and then I clocked in.” “Oh yeah? Did you make the donuts, too?” asked Sam. “Yeah, yeah, I made those, too, and just stuck them in the Dunkin’ Donuts box…” That part I knew they were joking about, but I’m still mostly convinced that Jared made the pizza, and Sami’s still mostly convinced that he didn’t. I do know that he was topping the pizzas when I passed him on my way downstairs after clocking in. “There’s even a part with no cheese,” Jared told me. “Awh, really?? You’re so sweet, Jared.” “Tell all your friends.”

Sami and Sam went up for pizza first, and when Sami came back down, she reported that she had seen Jared going, “Sh*t, I try to do something nice–” and proceeded to pick the meat off of the cheese-less part of the pizza.

So when I came upstairs for my pizza, I found a lovely large chunk of crust with tomato sauce and bell peppers. I considered attempting to cut it, but…

me: How about I just grab the whole thing?
Jared: Sure, why not?
Rob: Well it’s not like anyone else wants cheese-less meat-less pizza, that’s just dumb.
me [to Jared]: So, I asked Rob if we could call it pax; that if I promised to try and be nicer, would he promise to try and not make it so difficult for me to be nice? But clearly he’s not interested in helping at all…

And yet, later, after adjusting my pistachio vinaigrette [because neither Jared nor I were particularly interested in suffering our respective allergic reactions as a result of tasting it], Rob said, “See? I was nice…”

Sam decided he wanted me and Jared to have a race: who could eat the most pistachio vinaigrette before passing out or dying, BUT, he and everyone else would be standing by with EpiPens to prevent the latter.

Jared basically said no…

When Sami is working, the radio is ditched in favor of Pandora on her iPhone.

Sam: Does that thing have a volume button?
Sami: You really hate my music, don’t you?
Sam: Yes, BUT I’d rather be able to actually hear it than barely hear it and wonder if I’m going crazy.

As it was finals week, there was one day earlier in the week where I actually came in earlier than either Sami or Sam. I intended to work quietly downstairs and leave Jared and Rob alone, but I guess Jared had things to do which required more workspace than what was available on middle. He turned the radio on to Warm 98. I ventured to comment on the surprising difference. “Gotta change it up sometimes, Ais.” It clicked then – the one time that I walked in and Warm 98 was on and Chief came in and commented and all of us swore we hadn’t been the ones to change the radio station.

And so it happened that I knew every song that played for the rest of the time while that station was on. “Sounds like this is your station, Ais…” I confirmed that, “but not at nighttime when that disgusting Delilah stuff is playing.” “What…? What Delilah stuff?” “Oh. At night, they’ve got the Delilah show, and people call in and tell their crappy love stories and Delilah commiserates with them and sometimes there’s the most pathetic crying and stuff, and then she finds them a song and plays it for them.” “… On this station??” “Yeah, yeah. But only at nighttime.”

Sam and Sami eventually showed up and objected to the radio station, to which I replied that Jared had chosen it and therefore they oughtn’t change it. So they didn’t. Until Miley Cyrus came on and then we all decided to scrap that and change it.

I had my Food Chem I final on Thursday, and I knew I’d get out at around 10 and asked Jared if he’d be ok with me coming in to work directly afterwards. Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that it is Restaurant Week, precisely because of the fact that it is Restaurant Week, his response was, “I don’t think so… (I groaned.) Ais, I won’t have anything for you to do.” At first he said 2. Then he took pity on me and amended that to 1. The next day, (maybe because he saw me standing around with my classmates post-final at not-even-9am?) he amended it further to noon. But that still left me with three whole hours to kill, and truly I was very grateful that it wasn’t five, but what was I to do? Seth left, Kayla went to work, Tim said goodbye, and I was hoping to catch Jason and Steve after their final, but Megan and Stephen and Svetlana and I were finally forced to head to our respective cars by the beginning of rain. Take a wild guess where I ended up…

I think that if Matt outlasts Stevo in Receiving, I’ll end up continuing to go to MCI just to chit-chat with Matt. So it continues. I sincerely hope and pray that Stevo gets whatever co-op he wants for the summer, but of course if he does, I highly doubt he’ll go back to MCI. Maybe I’m wrong. But the question I asked myself was if I would stop going there once he’s gone. And Matt’s making me think not. I’ll always have a reason to go back. I just can’t get away from the place.

do intend, however, to fast from MCI for the rest of Lent. I didn’t get it when Gabe and Paolo said they were fasting from Mariel – I still think they were joking – but I think I get it now, and there are people that I only see at MCI that it would be prudent to spend some time away from. I think I meant to do this at the beginning of Lent, but I couldn’t quite master myself enough to do it. Certain recent events have resulted in some small degree of better self-mastery.

With my notice in (and everyone joking very straight-faced-ly  about it being entirely too short altogether), I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve heard from so many different instructors and mentors; that six months to a year is the ideal length of time to stay in any one place when you’re still really green. I didn’t understand it at first, because it seemed to me to speak of the inability to hold a job, but now, as I mentally prepare to take leave, I’ve begun to understand why it’s a good decision and why one oughtn’t go back.

I think there’s a danger – but also a plus – in a desk job having the potential to become something like school, where what you talk about relates only to the task at hand, and unless you make a real point of hanging out with people outside of work, you can generally maintain some incredible level of detachment which I will not necessarily call professional, because while it probably is, it is still possibly not. But it’s not necessarily the detachment that’s the focus, so much as the ability to keep your personal life separate from your work life, where a bad day is – just that – a bad day, and no one thinks much the worse of you for it as long as your bad day doesn’t turn into a bad week or a bad month. That sort of detachment isn’t possible in the industry I’ve chosen.

Distinguish between stress that one describes with emotional terms and stress such as stress when I say that the more stress a grapevine is under, the lower the yield of grapes, yet the higher the quality of the resulting wine, recognize that what I say next is more closely comparable to the latter, and let me present to you the idea that this industry places a different sort of stress on a body than a desk job.

Compare the stress of a deadline, to the stress of spending six to twenty hours straight on your feet, the latter scenario being inescapable, and the former allowing the possibility of either being handled well or handled poorly and thus increasing or decreasing the stress respectively. Perhaps I can heighten or lower the swivel chair as needed and my own discomfort at my desk is partially my own fault if I do neither, but the height of my prep table is the height of my prep table, and far over I need to be hunched to handle my knife properly does not leave any room to consider my level of comfort.

There are simply physical stressors in this industry that literally nothing can be done about, and I think that these compound to bring out the worst in people much sooner than at a desk job, if two employees being compared were to begin at equal levels of complete satisfaction in the jobs they landed respectively. Where all of this is leading is that I think that if friendships formed in this industry are to endure, one has to leave while one is still very much in love with one’s circumstance so as to avoid leaving in anger, bitterness, and disappointment.

And all that being said, Friday was perfectly horrible school-wise, truly the most horrible college day I’ve had since I started, and that is saying something. I am so incredibly thankful that all that old talk of me possibly finishing high school some two or more years early never came to anything, because I wouldn’t be able to handle any of this if I were much younger. I suppose my… shall we call it distress? showed on my face because Jared asked me what was wrong as I passed him on my way in, and I brushed the question off, but I had a good albeit short cry when I made it downstairs to Sami, and perhaps it was merely my imagination, but regardless, I felt as if there was some conspiratorial effort in everything and among everyone, from the blue skies to the customers who were kind enough to order scallops and quail and break the somewhat-too-comfortable monotony of the Restaurant Week menu, to cheer me up unreasonably, so that I was quite enjoying myself by the end of the evening. I settled back down considerably on the drive home, fortunately or unfortunately.

Restaurant Week has been considerably less hectic than I thought it would be, to be perfectly honest, but no one important is going to read as far down into this post to discover my feelings about it, and I believe that is a good thing.

The one amazingly good thing that did come of Friday’s chaos was the following which I did not receive until today:

Congratulations on your performance of the pre-test for Level I. Your score has earned you a position in the class and exam on April 10 and 11.

BOOM. And there you have it. Guess staying up until 1 in the morning payed off, but I’ll try to balance out my studying better in future for sure.

I think it worth noting that I’ve made it to the working-the-left-side-of-middle-without-a-menu-in-front-of-me point. How much farther I get between now and June remains to be seen, but I like middle and wouldn’t mind staying there for the time being. Shhhhh.

Aaaaand to finish off this brain dump on the past week of work, I present to you a text-message conversation which amused me greatly. Perhaps a little background is necessary: I’ve often texted Jared to ask what time he wants me to come in to work the next day. Since I’ve done this so frequently, my text message as slowly been reduced to, quite simply, a question mark. He knows what I mean.

me: ?
Jared: !
me: …
Jared: ”
me: *
Jared: Oh snap. 1pm. Could you text Sami a list of the major things on her prep list for tomorrow? Thank you.
me: Could i please have her number? Permesso e grazie.
Jared: Just tell me then. I don’t feel comfortable giving out peoples numbers. You guys should exchange numbers tomorrow.
me: … since when? You gave us zach’s and steve’s numbers. Lol. Uhm… i didn’t touch the mousse i made, so unless one container isnt enough, thats fine. She’ll need shortbread, the mascarpone, cherries, pot de cremes, maybe those lace thingies.
Jared: I had a bad experience giving out a girl’s number at one of my jobs. So I am always cautious about it. Dudes don’t care.
me: Hmmm… interesting. Duly noted. Next time a dude gets sensitive about me giving out their number, i’m quoting you :P


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