What got me thinking about was Dan saying he wanted to move away from pub food standard stuff and do more interesting features and stuff. I’m what you’d call a creative-type and you’d think that would appeal to me but I wasn’t stoked. That’s when I was able to articulate the core of my philosophy when it comes to work. I think it’s best to take on new challenges when you’ve mastered previous ones. I like incremental growth. Take one core task and when you’re great at it add another and so on. Like an RPG. Then when you have a dozen tasks start handing off the earlier ones to someone else and with the knowledge that you accumulated while it was yours. Everybody benefits, everybody grows.
It’s why I left the diner 2 years ago. I mastered all the challenges and the owner wasn’t interested in my ideas of how to improve further. It just became drudgery after that.
I like the team aspect of work too. Everywhere I’ve worked someone has described the group as being like family, I imagine that happens just about everywhere, but I actually hate that. Families have hierarchies that aren’t based on talent or intelligence and they’re no guarantee of belonging. A team though is a group of equals where merit is rewarded. On a baseball team a pitcher seems more important than a fielder until you go a game without one. On a good team everybody’s vital. Everyone’s equal because everyone’s necessary. Maybe that’s where belonging comes from, the sense that you are vital to a group.
Now this doesn’t mean that a team has to be copacetic. But in kitchens especially the idea that you’re supposed to be stressed and angry is all too common. The person I work closest with in a day is Luke, he’s my left hand man. And there was a time when we would get frustrated with each other but as we worked together longer, and as I took on more responsibility, we’ve wound up breezing through even pretty tough days in high spirits. The idea that frustration is normal in our environment it false. Frustration comes from bad planning, bad communication, and lack of accountability.
At work I see a lot of people wanting to be babysat, wanting an authority figure to tell them what to do and provide everything to do it. Which is the way a tight, top-down structure can run but it destroys moral and creativity. Dan runs our kitchen in a much more level, team based way. I think rather it being his job to run the kitchen hands-on I think it’s our job to take care of ourselves so he can deal with everything outside and above the kitchen.
It sucks that we’re getting to the end of the school year because I really feel we’re operating at our peak right now. We spend all year honing our skills and our team work and when we’re really at a plateau and running like a well oiled machine everyone toddles off to other jobs for the summer.
Oddly I feel most at home at work. I have a lot of things in my control and there’s no need to stress about the things outside of my control. I feel like I can be the most myself too, I never need to modify what I feel like saying or doing like I do among the band or in my relationship. The goals are clear, the team is strong, and there’s food. Work is the only aspect of my life I find satisfying right now.