Ramekins, Man….

I feel like I am the SpongeBob SquarePants of my restaurant…. always unfailingly cheerful in the midst of incredible busyness. This is because I get paid a lot for what I do, more than most people in my position, actually, so being happy is easy. I prep, work the line, wash the dishes, and keep smiling.Cleaning_Dishes It’s not glamorous in the slightest, but when you’re the member of a team, it’s so much fun. When I’m in the dish pit, I am the most important person in the restaurant. Just try making it through a shift if one of the cooks walks out. It’ll be fine. Now imagine that the dishwasher walks out. You’d be up shit creek without a paddle in five seconds flat. Even the chef could walk out and we’d still make it.

There’s only one thing that drives me up the wall, and I’ve been searching for YouTube videos and subreddits to try and figure it out. Ramekins…. those little silver cups that hold all the sauces.  They get stacked and dumped in the prewash, which becomes useless when there’s ketchup, cheese, and grainy mustard in them. I swear to God, ketchup will be the death of me. I can’t even look at it anymore. Right now, washing hundreds of ramekins is extremely time consuming, because even if I run them through the dishwasher, they flip around and stack, making the dishwasher cycle useless as well. Doesn’t matter if I separate them…. in one minute they’ll be stacked again. So, I separate them and clean them out before I run them through the dish machine, which gets me in the weeds faster than anything I have to do…. and if I save them until the end so that I can keep up with the rest of the dishes, I’m not leaving until it’s dark thirty.

The best method I’ve found so far is to separate them and put a cutting board on top so that they don’t flip around as much, but they still have to be clean because all of those sauces won’t come out in the wash. They’ll just be hot AF from 140 degree water and I still have to clean them out.

This was especially taxing last night, because our business died down severely and there was only one cook and me left when the bar flooded with people wanting to watch the Capitals game (which we won- go Caps). I had to step up to the line and leave the dishes because there was no way one cook could keep up. So then it’s closing time, when we should have been done with most everything had the night gone according to plan, and I didn’t get home until 0200. Despite that, I am still eager to be back at work tonight, because it’s Sunday, which means we close earlier, business will be steady yet not overwhelming, and it will be a much more relaxed atmosphere, even if I have to both wash dishes and prep my brains out.

Last night, we were so busy that I didn’t even know the Capitals had won until I got home.

I am sure that this entry is very boring for those who don’t work in a restaurant, but I feel that I need to illustrate just how hard a job it is for people who think it is unskilled and not worth a good salary. How much would you want an hour if you had to dig out other people’s dirty food and condiments for eight hours at a clip? I’m betting I couldn’t pay you enough.

Plus, there’s all the pans we use to cook that have food caked on that the dish machine won’t clean on its own, so how much would I have to pay you to get you to scrub caked, burnt cheese out of skillets until your hands are cracked and bleeding from steel wool?

How quickly could you memorize where everything goes when it needs to be put away?

spongebob-sqp1-620x500How quickly could you deep clean a kitchen so that no one is kept past their scheduled shifts by an hour or two?

How many of you would sign up for clothes that are beyond dirty and barely any time to get your laundry together before you have to be back at work? How many of you would sign up for a job that always leaves you soaked and smelling like old food? I’m wagering that of all my readers, not many. I realize that people coming to this country illegally is not necessarily the best policy, but immigrants are generally the ones willing to do those jobs in the first place. The “they’re stealing our jobs” trope is getting so tired, because the hospitality, farming, fishing, and crabbing industries are running out of people to employ, because the same people that say “they’re stealing our jobs” aren’t exactly lining up to get hired. Write it down.

Additionally, immigrants will work so cheaply that it’s what makes our groceries affordable. The cost of groceries will rise to support minimum wage and benefits, so enjoy your $14/lb tomatoes…. not that I’m opposed to them, necessarily, because all people should get a living wage and benefits. I’m just saying. Even if the cost of groceries rise, it’s still cheaper and better for you than eating in a restaurant.

The magic trick that I don’t see happening is people who want to be upwardly mobile and think they deserve high-powered jobs “lowering themselves” to become dishwashers and cooks. To wit:

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

-John Steinbeck

I don’t see a lot of people with my attitude and optimism, because I absolutely know I’m doing important work. I am actively involved in an industry that makes other people happy, often at the expense of living my own life. For instance, I am not available to socialize during the hours when other people socialize, because I’m taking care of them. I make sure they have excellent food and clean dishes on which to eat. No one screams louder than people who don’t get both of those things….. more likely than not, people who are both opposed to immigration AND getting a job in the service industry.

It’s probably because they’d have to clean ramekins.


When You Have to Take a Step Back

I am so tired of 2018.

I’m tired of people saying they’re SO liberal on LGBTQIA issues and then saying things like (paraphrasing), I don’t think this woman should have mentioned her wife in class because it’s a conversation I would like to have privately with my children at home…. but I belong to a liberal open and affirming church so I can’t2018-04-08 13_27_52-tired - Google Search possibly be construed as a bigot. In 2018, why is homosexuality something that has to be explained privately as if children don’t have enough agency to understand basic family constructs on their own? They’ve probably had classmates with same-sex parents since they were in kindergarten. By the time the asshat father I paraphrased got to his kids, they were probably eye-rolling because OMG. Gay people. I have to be prepared to see them out in the world. It’s not as if when queer people move into your neighborhood that spaceships land and little burritos walk out. For the love of Christ, literally.

I’m tired of Assad and his chemical attacks and his bombing of the people he’s supposed to serve. I’m sure he doesn’t see it that way, but the best rulers lead from the back. I’m tired of wondering if our military, our diplomats, and our intel operatives and their friendlies are safe or fighting for their lives as equally hard as Syrian citizens. I’m tired of American attitudes that our people’s lives are worth more than theirs.

I’m tired of Donald Trump and his Twitter foreign and domestic policy, but I’ll bet I’m way less tired than the people trying to reign him in.

I’m tired of journalists, bloggers, and media influencers being put on a list, not knowing what the information is for, but know that nothing good can come of this. I’m tired that every single story President Trump reads is deemed fake, as if “The Fourth Estate” isn’t supposed to do their damn jobs. I’m exhausted thinking that both Helen Thomas and Molly Ivins are dead and there’s no one being as loud as they would be if they knew what was happening. I am happiest picturing Helen Thomas flipping the bird.

I am tired of black people dying for absolutely no reason, and the chutzpah cops have in shooting someone eight times in the back, because they know there’s no penalty. Not all cops are bad, but the ones that are aren’t being punished nearly enough.

I am tired of children having to ask for help with gun control and it being this huge debate, as if adults aren’t the ones in charge of keeping them safe. I am sure that for gun freedom advocates, it will take their own child being shot in math class to change those hearts and minds. It is not, however, something I would wish on them. No parent should ever have to bury a child. It is only an observation that it takes a truly earth-shattering realization to change someone vehemently entrenched in the position that all people should be able to own firearms in which the Founding Brothers never could have conceived.

I’m tired of angry rants on Facebook that come up in my feed whether I’m looking for negativity or not…. that even discourse that starts off as civil ends up being monstrous. I will engage in politics, but at the first sign of an ad hominem attack, I’m out. This is both because I don’t need that temperature in my life, and second because when I play “Let’s Be an Asshole,” I am in it to win it. I am just not interested in seeing that version of myself, because it’s egocentric and therefore, absolutely toxic. There is no exhaustion worse than being tired of listening to yourself.

I am tired of having to be this version of me, the one that has to stand up for all the little people, because the majority doesn’t understand that they don’t get to dictate to the minority what hurts and what doesn’t.

I am tired of thinking that it will be this way my entire life, because society won’t progress far enough to accept everyone by the time I die…. but, I hope so.

2045: Martians are so eloquent…… I want to touch their skin just to see what it feels like….

I wish we could all step back and take a breath, but it seems as if when we do, it’s not a matter of learning to listen to each other, but thinking about what we’re going to say next. I am certainly not immune to this…. but in a lot of ways, I can’t breathe under the best of circumstances. One of my tribe was just fired for simply showing a photograph of her family. It’s just not possible for me to contain rage over it, although I try to put a smile on my face even when I want to scream, as I often do when I wake up to news that transgendered people have been shot, most of them to death.

And some of the time, it’s by people who claim they live and let live.

I’m tired of the marijuana debate, and not because I’m all excited about smoking it. I don’t. I’m tired of violence at the border and inequality in sentencing when minorities get caught smoking and/or selling. White boys will be boys, but scary black men are going to prison for life.

I’m tired of the immigration debate, the back and forth between enjoying cheap tomatoes and the gate should have closed after I came in. You don’t want to give minimum wage and health care benefits to full-time farm workers, but you don’t want to welcome people that will do the job for peanuts, either…. surprised that after immigrants have been deported that fruits and vegetables are withering on the vine.

I’m tired of people still harping on Hillary Clinton as if she’s been elected to anything or even has a public life anymore. I mean, she’ll always be well-known, but she’s not influencing public policy. She doesn’t even have an advice column. Have a Coke™ and a smile and shut it.

I’m tired of people going bankrupt over medical bills, especially when they’re shot or otherwise injured through no fault of their own. I am sure there are people who were gunned down at the Pulse night club (and lots of schools) who now have to pay for the “privilege.” We are one of the richest nations in the world, yet most of us tied to jobs with golden handcuffs as not to lose insurance. Other countries have so much more freedom than we do because their people are allowed to move freely and take any job they want because insurance is not dictated privately or state-by-state.

Most of all, I’m tired that we claim all people are created equally, but some are just a little more equal than others.