So, I am starting a new job this weekend. This will actually be a third job for me. My first job, substitute teaching pays peanuts and is not nearly enough to cover my bills. My second job, massage therapy, has gone the way of the water buffalo, but I still have the occasional client. So, now I am going all the way back to my roots—restaurant work.
Times are tough.
I put everything that I had into my education, and I finally got my teaching credential at the end of last summer—right after the hiring season. I want to teach high school History, but here in California, budget cuts have put the squeeze on schools, and they just are not hiring as they ought to.
Now, I am in a pretty dire situation financially, and am forced to take a job that I do not necessarily want, but this job will help, and that is what is important.
What I want to do is teach History by day, and write by night (or late afternoon). I also want to do yoga everyday, and go to Giants games with my son when baseball season starts. Oh, and there is the large musical project that I have wanted to do for years that is still collecting dust in the attics of my imagination. I also want to climb Half Dome and summit Mt. Shasta.
Again, it is not about what I want, but what I need to do. Right now, my priority is taking care of son and myself. That means food, clothes, housing, and utilities. Then I can make time to write. And then we can do yoga, play catch, go to Giants games, etc…
I have a positive attitude about starting this new job; it is a good restaurant, and I was impressed with the people who work there. Not like my old restaurant jobs where everybody hated each other and competed to fuck each other over whenever possible.
I was a chef for twelve years. Actually, I cooked for twelve years, and I was a chef for the last six of those twelve years. I love to cook and create dishes. I loved creating menus and blowing the minds of the wait staff with my daily specials. I worked in one restaurant where all of the cooks were encouraged to create the most ambitious specials every day. That type of creativity inspired me.
Then I went to work for a corporate prison of a restaurant in which everything was cooked exactly the same every time, and there were no variations, and no daily specials. The menu was God! That place was so uptight and vicious that all of the employees were at each other’s throats regularly. I lasted there three months.
I have also worked in restaurants in which business was so slow and unpredictable that we usually had a skeleton crew working, and if we did get busy, the place turned into a living nightmare. We were so understaffed, that when the inevitable busload of people walked through the door on a Friday night, we could not keep up with the orders. It is no wonder that place failed.
I have worked with some of the finest chefs in Sacramento, and learned a lot from them, but at the end of the day, kitchen staffs are often filled with overly ambitious, angry, and bitter little people. And I got tired of it.
I retired from the restaurant industry in 2000, and have not walked into a kitchen since; until this past Wednesday when I had my working interview.
This new restaurant seems different. For one thing, it is a Vegan restaurant, so no more coming home smelling like fish and industrial-sized deep fryers. Another thing, because it is a Vegan restaurant, the employees seem to bond over a common interest in healthier eating. I think this also brings a much healthier attitude to the kitchen.
I think I will be happy working there. It is only a part-time gig meant to supplement my teaching income, so I doubt burnout will ever set in for me. It will mean that I will work literally every day of the week, but so what?
It is what I need to do right now.