I got the call. After two months outside of my favorite professional kitchen, after two months of existential uncertainty and genuine concern for the future of our industry and out collective lives, I got the call. I told my Chef “no”
Covid is still upon us. Last Friday, on May 8, 2020, our local leadership put the word out that certain non-essential businesses could begin a gradual re-opening, within a specific set of parameters. I had to get some groceries. The traffic was back to ridiculous. The parking lot at my grocer was full. The door was no longer regulated. There were entire families shopping again without masks. I am an imposing presence, so getting bumped into and stepped on aren’t usually a problem of mine. Not the same for others that were shopping. They were jostling an bumping into each other, without masks. I went to the gas station; the signs requiring masks for entrance were gone, and too many people were happy about that. I told my chef “no”.
A cook friend of mine texted me after Sunday’s Mother’s Day brunch:
“We got murdered…”
Three cooks, 289 covers, plus 80 full meals to go. 25% capacity.
The kitchen I am currently absent from is so small that contact avoidance is nearly impossible during our busiest times. That is not an exaggeration. Shoulders and hips bump constantly. Bellies bump into each other. Nether regions make contact (not in the good way). Sweat is shared. I told my Chef “no”.
I don’t fear pain or death. Innate knuckleheadedness and years of street life have deactivated that concern for me. However, I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, and a friend. I fear for others. I have no desire to learn-the hard way-that someone I love is susceptible to this illness. I have no desire to be the one responsible for that lesson. I told my Chef “no”.
I spent the first part of my taxpaying career in cubicle farms and behind desks. Corporate jargon, telephone headsets, break rooms, and useless meetings. Political correctness, break times, metrics, and birthday cards. “Go across the street to smoke that cigarette”. Don’t get me wrong, I flourish in the corporate environment. I’m good at everything I do, but, dammit, I’m a pirate! Thief, hooligan, thug, drunk, ruffian, door-kicker, debt collector, room-clearer, womanizer, and general piece of shit. I told my Chef “no”.
Last Monday, I put on a headset for the first time in 15 years to begin training in a cubicle farm.
I told my Chef “no”…