in sickness and in health

Joined Aug 7, 2001
I'm wondering where to draw the line in my apprenticeship experience as far as how far I take the "real life" of the kitchen. This may sound dumb, I don't know. Anyway, I know cooks come in when sick. They work unless they are puking up organs. I am home sick from my "real job" today, and am scheduled to go into the kitchen as usual, tomorrow. And I want to go, I want to not be a wus about it, my fulltime job gives me sick leave ability, so when I am really sick I take it. But to do so tomorrow from the kitchen leaves me feeling like a wimp. So I could go, of course. But what makes me pause is the fact that I'm not integral to their kitchen, and indeed, maybe I serve them better by NOT showing up sick, so that they don't catch it, and have to work through it because it is their livelihood.

I hate when these things pop up that make my situation different, when I am trying to experience the real deal as best I can. But if I go in, am I doing so at their expense? Or am I just a wus?

Thoughts welcomed.

Joined Mar 2, 2002
That's always a toughy in restaurant. I hurt my back once and had to miss a couple of shifts. I worried that people at work would think I was faking it or that I was a wimp. But my back really was wacked out. The doctor told me I should lay out for a week, but I went back to work when I could stand up straight after 2 days. I was one of only 2 "chicks" in the kitchen, and the other was this woman who gave everybody absolute **** about everything. I was sure I'd be hearing about it from her when I came back. But she left me alone, and I think it was because I had shown that I was a really hard worker. It was also the only time I ever called in like that, except one other time later when somebody very close to me died. So, I think your reputation will probably survive calling in sick, as long as it isn't a pattern.

With the place I have now, I have one employee who, when he gets sick, gives whatever it is he has to me every time! I finally told him to please let me know if he is sick and needs his shift covered. Its far easier for me to deal with replacing or doing without a part time person than it is for me to work 70 hours a week sick myself!

Feel better soon!
Joined Jun 1, 2001
If you are contagious, please in the name of Typhoid Mary stay home! All of you!

Get rest. Watch soaps. But stay away from other people's food.
Joined Aug 7, 2001
I am indeed at home. No soaps! Food TV for me all day! (It's scary how much Emeril there is on every day)

It's just a hard one to figure out. The pressure is so on for cooks to be at work, yet the opinions shared here do exist! Stay home! Don't touch customer's food! Which I agree with, but I'm sure there are folks who can't stay home for fear of getting reamed out, fired, punished, jeered at, etc. What a thin line, I suppose, one determined by who you work for.


Yay for laptops and fluffy bed pillows...and pudding!

Joined Nov 29, 2001
So far, none of the tidbits-I-could-have-lived-without-knowing shared by Anthony Bordain have not deterred me from restaurant eating - but your reminder that people come to work sick may be the clincher.

If a person in a restaurant kitchen goes to work with a viral infection (or worse), breakouts of terrible stuff can occur. My brother wound up with hepatitis from eating in a Florida restaurant way down at the tip of the state - most likely caused by an infected employee. If someone injures a wrist or suffers a similar injury, that's one thing. People hawking up lungs, etc., should not be permitted to prepare food for other people - as a matter of fact, in many places, it's a law.
Joined Mar 21, 2002
Yeah, that's a toughie. I think it all comes down to your work ethic and how you perform. At least as far as perceptions go. The rare times I've called in sick it was because I literaly found it hard to get up and walk and every single time the managment was very understanding because they knew that if I could work I would have.

The only time I got any comments was the time I had to call in because I had second degree sun burns on top of my feet. I was taking tylenol with codeine and still couldn't stand the pain of putting on shoes and walking around. Eight hours on a jet ski without suntan lotion is NOT something I recommend. I got comments by folks until they saw the blisters on my shoulders, then they understood.

Joined Mar 6, 2001
At the risk of sounding like an old some respects I think your missing why the pressure or attitute is there. (IMHO) it's about younger workers (under 30) who don't take their job seriously and think it's o.k. to blow off work because they had too good of a time the night before or because it's sunny and they want to work on their tan.

1. The 'pressure' to be there is only for the young workers or for the rare older person who should know better by now but is always 'sick' on the nicest days of the year (what a co-incidence).

2. When your sick and can't function that's one thing(infectious people should not go to work), but many people take off when their just under the weather (cramps or headaches). Laying around your home doesn't cure under the weather feelings so I think you might as well go to work and be productive. Most of the time when you feel bad getting out and active does help (at least it gets your mind off of it).

If someone is making fun of you for being out sick, then most likely you have a pattern and they are just highlighting that to you.... Although (now I'll back track) once when I was 16 or 17 I was sick and the manager wouldn't let me go home even after I told him I was sick in the bathroom (it was homecomeing weekend and he was burned by most of my co-workers). It wasn't until another older worker felt my skin and confirmed that I was burning up before the jerk manager would let me go home. But if you noticed he had a reason not to believe me, it was home coming.......really sick belongs at home.
Joined Mar 21, 2002
Yeah, I do understand why the attitude is there. Case in point there was a co-worker that felt "so bad" that they had to leave less than halfway through their shift. Which meant I had to do my work and his that evening. So, the next morning while doing the prep-work and talking with everyone about what they had done the night before, someone mentioned (who hadn't worked the day before) that they were downtown at the bars and saw the person that had felt "so bad" at a bar the evening before. Needless to say everyone that had had to pick up the slack the night before was more than pissed.

I'd say in all my days of working I have missed maybe 10 days of work, four of those times I went to work but was told to go home because I looked like I felt. The other times were the sunburn, the flu and having an ulcer that was flaring up and I was bleeding into my stomach making me pretty anemic and light headed.

Days that I grin and bare it are when it was my own fault for going out and getting drunk the night before. My own personal punishment for going overboard.

Joined Mar 25, 2002
I think there are two schools of thought here. One, if you are contagious then you shouldnt be at work. If you are coughing constantly, or sneezing, there is a good chance that you can infect someone else's food.

On the other hand, when people call in sick all the time for feeling "under the weather", I really cant stand it. I begin to "hate" these people immediately. I work at a Country Club where there are only three cooks and our head chef. Our "definition" of calling in sick is that you come in anyway and someone sends you home cause you really are sick or you're at your own funeral.

We had a part-time person last summer who called in sick all the time and I wasnt suprised when after only a few weeks everyone "disliked"........(hated)....this person even though he was a nice guy.


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