Like a glove.

December 30, 2009

So, I quit my dream job.

How’s that for an opener?

Yup. Being naive as a peanut, I applied for a line cook position at a restaurant I did, and still do adore.
Beginning culinary school in the fall, my aspiration was a job of this very nature, and, ideally, at this very place. There were at least four of us who put in for the position and performed a stage to demonstrate our skills. I was the only one with no line experience, and consequently, no skills. Zilch. Nada. Zip. In an all-too-generous twist of fate, I landed the job.
My first night, I was ready for work two hours early. More than ready–overly ready. So ready that I had time to sit in my car and feed every bit of myself, piece by piece, to my ravenous nerves. Knees knocking and palms glistening with sweat, I snuck in the back door and there I stayed, in a haze affectionately referred to as “the line” until well after midnight. It was then they told me this was the busiest night of the year: The Downtown Promenade, a kick-off to the holidays. Baptism by fire, as they say. And it was brutal. The only redemption was that it all happened so fast, that I couldn’t remember any of the harrowing details. But all the same, I felt amazing. I was still alive AND managed to keep all my fingers intact. Before close, I was awarded a slap on the back and two beers. Life was good. I went home and passed out.
For the next month, I repeated the routine. Prepped all afternoon, cooked all night, and tried to sleep (read: earnestly prayed) all day. Slowly the haze began to lift as clarity descended. I felt like the little engine that could. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” I whispered this to myself as I scrounged for ingredients in dry storage, and then again as I poured over my lengthy menu notes before nodding off to sleep each night. But my resolve was wavering.

I was told that as I gained more experience, aspects would become easier. But I started to realize some things would never change. A rising restaurant like this would not grow less frenetic. The kitchen would never quiet down for the sake of my sanity. I relish methodical work in peaceful surroundings.  I thrive on constructive criticism cloaked as encouragement. Taking my time and perfecting details is a prized gift I possess. I do not work faster when being yelled at, nor do I learn more.  Yikes! It kind of sounds like I’m writing the character description for a Disney princess, and maybe that’s the case.  But I only am what I am, and I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Eventually my corners may have splintered off, but did I really want them to, would it be worth it in the end? My final decision was, no. The sacrifice was not worth the reward.
When asked why I quit, the quick answer has been to say I couldn’t handle the yelling, or I didn’t have thick enough skin, but what it really comes down to is this: I didn’t fit, and I didn’t want to. Its true that time would have worn me in, but I believe some experiences are meant to be endured, and then others are simply meant to be checked off the list.

What’s next? I haven’t quite sorted out that answer just yet. Right now I am a puzzle piece out of place. I’m relying on the possibility that there might be something better out there for me. Hopefully the fit will be more akin to a glove. Shoot, I’d settle for a fit like a mitten right about now.


One Response to “Like a glove.”

  1. Kathleen Anne Crouse said

    I love your writing!
    It is so picturesque.

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