“Industry Standards” vs. Canadian Labour Laws
There's something that I've always struggled with since my foray into the culinary world four years ago. I hate everyone's attitude and the way it is' mentality that most career cooks seem to have. I've never liked the ego that comes with the long and difficult hours that we grind through day in and day out. Hell, most of us wear them as a badge of pride, talking points when we're having a end of the night beer.
“I've been working in kitchens since I was twelve!”
“oh man, my last job, I worked 14 hours a day every day!”
“I would start at seven, work breakfast, prep lunch and dinner, go home at three, shower, and come back at five and work night service until midnight, then go home to sleep and do it all again the next day.”
This asinine pissing contest is just tedious and I'm sick and tired of it. I am guilty of contributing my own experience into the conversation however. I remember when I was in college, and I would go to school from eight to four, work from five to midnight, go home and do homework until two in the morning every day.
I'm not really that upset with people talking about how hard they used to work. The problem I have is when they use their experience to belittle and shame other people for being tired or not working as hard.
Here is a scenario: Cooks start at one, and work until 10. Pretty classic, nothing too rough. It's a busy restaurant, so no time to sit down, take a fifteen minute break, let alone a half hour lunch break. They can eat during work though so it doesn't feel too bad. Dishwasher starts at four and works until eleven. Again, it being a busy restaurant, then only having one dishwasher on at a time doesn't really lend itself to the hope of taking a break outside of the quick smoke here and there.
During a shift, the dishwasher is feeling a bit soggy and tired, and steps outside for a breather in the cool air. The cook gets angry. “Why do you need to stop? There's work to be done! I've been here since one and you don't see me stopping!”
The dishwasher wants to sit down and enjoy his on-shift meal, rather than stuffing it down his face in the heat of the dish pit. But all he gets from the cook is more comments on his work ethic in comparison to the other people on shift.
I do the cooks ideology. He's working constantly, trying to get all the work done as efficiently and as quickly as possible. And for a kitchen to produce as much product as we do, everyone needs to be working hard, then the whole operation will flow well. When someone starts to slack off, everyone else needs to work that much harder to pick up the slack. Even more aggravating is when the person slacking off is the guy who started three hours after he did, and is only washing dishes.
On the other side, the dishwasher is entitled to two fifteen minute and one half hour break in an eight hour shift. Not everyone is THAT passionate about their jobs that they can work long and hard hours without a second to breathe.
In my experience, how much you enjoy a job really effects how much you can put up with. When I worked at Sydneys, I had no problem working from two in the afternoon to two in the morning. I loved doing it. I loved the people I worked with, I loved the food we were making, I loved everything about that job, so the 12 hour shift was in fact quite enjoyable to me.
The next job I had, Stella's, I hated with a burning passion. Working a mere 5 hours felt like torture and I could not be out of that place fast enough.
I don't know where I want to stand on this whole situation. I am sympathetic to the dishwasher, and the law is on his side. But we really can't afford to have someone in a key position stop working lest the entire operation is derailed.
One thing that I don know, is I don't like the way the cook handles it.
But I don't know the right way to approach this.
It's just the way the industry is.