Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Day Shift

I'm leisurely taking in my first cup of coffee and finishing yesterday's Globe and Mail when I hear my cellphone ring. As this inevitably happens if not every Sunday, then at least two Sundays each month, I know who it is before I even flip the phone open. There it is, a new text message from the Executive Chef: "little chef, can you come in at 11? Please and thank you."

As I was scheduled to be at work for 5 pm and planned the day accordingly, this is a major disruption. It means I will not be having lunch at home and, worse, it means no dinner for Jen as I do not have time to make anything with the half hour I have left. I was planning to slowly braise pork ribs tonight and, although the dish is easy to prepare, it's more than Jen is willing to do. Now don't misunderstand me, Jen has the ability to make dinner for herself, but the willingness is rarely there. This is fine as I am usually more than happy to cook for her, it only becomes a problem when I am called in to work suddenly.

The bright side of working the day shift is that I escape the closing procedures which, I am not ashamed to admit, I dislike the most about the job.

"Closing" is a bit of work. First, I rotate all containers at my station. If a container is empty, it goes in the dishpit and I just get a clean container and fill it up (with olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes or whatever needs to be in it). If the container on the line is only half empty (or half full, if you prefer), I get a clean container, fill it up with new contents and top it off with the remaining stuff in the old container. I do this about 20 times as there are various such containers on the line. Once this is done, spray area with disinfectant (D-10), wipe it down, and move on to clean the friers, grill and stove.

At the end, we sweep and mop, a job that almost always falls on my shoulders. How hard it is to mop you say? Well, it's a pain. The line is greasy. You know how when you cook or fry stuff at home and get splatters on the surfaces adjacent to the burner, as well as on the floor? There is a ton of grease on the floor at the end of the day and it's made worse by the 10 cooks walking around in it, from line to back fridge, to sink, to freezer and back to line. It gets tracked all over and only heavy duty degreaser will get it out. So I mop twice. Once with a lot of water, almost without wringing the mop, and the second time with a drier mop so I can pick up everything left. The mop bucket is big and although it's on wheels, I am 4'11" and weigh 98 lbs. Dragging that bucket around and having to lift it at the end to dump all the water out is not the highlight of my day. But today I escape that because going in at 11 I will most likely come home around 8 pm, thus leaving the unpleasant job to someone else for once.

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