November 23, 2014 Leave a comment
This semester has been a tough one. It’s been a semester with a lot of late nights and minor breakdowns. I feel like I have been running non-stop, which was difficult coming off of a similarly non-stop summer. It was a summer of 60-hour weeks, and at the end of August, my manager apologized, “I’m sorry, I think I may have worked you a little too hard.” It wasn’t her fault, as I had told her repeatedly that working six or seven days a week was fine. But near the end especially, the pace became a bit difficult to maintain. There was one instance, on my last night in fact, that I almost lost it. In a restaurant, there is never a single incident that causes disaster. It is usually a combination of things, which amass to form a giant ball of entropy, which inevitably explodes. On my last night, I was expediting; we had a decently full board of tickets hanging. I was talking to the kitchen asking about the lead ticket when they decided to give me that ticket and about half of every other ticket. I have a pretty small space to work in, and because I didn’t have all of any one table’s food, I couldn’t send any of it out. So I quickly ran out of space, but the kitchen kept trying to give me more food, and all of the servers then fired their entrees at that moment, so I had a huge strand of unread tickets printing off, but none of those servers wanted to run food. I was on the verge of break down. “Woah, guys don’t kill the expo.” Debbie, my manager, said as she appeared at my side. She looked over at me and saw my look of panic. “Calm down, baby. It’s just food.” I did calm down eventually and somehow we got the food out. I stabbed the tickets (and my finger, in my shakiness), called and hung the new ones, and everything fell back into its normal ebb and flow. But I kept thinking about what she said, “It’s just food.” And even though in a restaurant food is never “just food,” she’s right. In a restaurant, food is art, it is currency, it is given and received in a predictable and comforting pattern, but it is just food. It is easy to make food bigger than what it is physically. And in many ways, food is bigger than its physical self. It has cultural implications, it can evoke memories and feelings, it is something people go to school for, and it is what some people spend all of their time thinking about. Food is beautiful and wonderful and important, but ultimately it is food; it is just sustenance. It is something that our bodies need and this makes it incredibly complex and stupidly simple. We need food, yes, but beyond that there are some foods that we want and some foods that we think will make us feel better or healthier. There are foods that are important to us for a variety of reasons, foods that we feel comfortable with, and foods that make us uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, we just need food. No matter how we feel about that food, we need it. And this dependency makes the relationship very simple- you need it so eat it- and also very complicated- other than the fact that you need food, what should determine what and how you eat? It’s not an easy question, and there isn’t an easy answer. It can be confusing and sometimes even overwhelming, but maybe it would help if every once and a while we stepped off the line, took a deep breath, and reminded ourselves; it’s just food.