Tim and Jeremy are both waiters at a restaurant in downtown New York City. During slow times at work, to stave off boredom when it is slow, the two young men draw pictures. These pictures are made using ink and what is called the "Triple Dupe Pad," a book of paper used to place orders in the kitchen. The drawings usually take about a week to make, all the while also being used by fellow employees to take orders; this sometimes leads to other collaborators or in a couple cases, to the loss of the work. The drawings are then scanned and colored in Photoshop where they come to life in stunning technicolor! The subject matter varies from piece to piece, as they are made over a long course of time and under various moods and states of mind. They all retain a playfulness that serves as a coping mechanism after spending a night catering to the endless needs of hungry patrons.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#53 "All Hands" January 14, 2013

(Click on the Image to make it HUGE!)

“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. what we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables.”
-Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor

I never read Chuck Palahniuk, but I did see the movie "Fight Club" which he wrote, so there is that.
I liked the quote and put it in this blog because I feel like I talk about patterns a lot when talking about the restaurant. Not patterns so much as time and relativity. But there are nothing but patterns at the restaurant. At the most base, there is the pattern of opening every day at noon and closing every evening at midnight. From there, the patterns become smaller and more intricate until there are the patterns on top of patterns and the ones that have not revealed themselves yet because they are too small (or too big) to see. I have been working at the restaurant for 13 years now. That is an obscenely long time to work in a restaurant, and by modern standards, an obscenely long time to work anywhere. In those 13 years I have seen many people come and go. I have watched kids grow up and I have watched people die. I have seen families made, and I have seen marriages dissolve. There are a lot of the same people working there as when I started, even though it seems like the whole crew is new. After all these years, I am still not even close to being the senior member of the team. Besides the owners, who have been a part of the team since 1977, there are people who have worked there since the 80's. A lot of the kitchen staff has been there since the 80's, a bartender from the old location (also the 80's), and a waiter or two going on 25 years on the job. This shows the loyalty of a select group of people, but it also shows that the restaurant is a comfortable place to make a living for these people.
This pattern of comfort is probably the main reason so many of these people stay at the restaurant for so long. I know that this comfort is the reason I have stayed for so long. My life outside the restaurant has been in constant flux since getting the job so many years ago, and the restaurant remains the only fixed thing in this state of constant change. Well, there are other constants, but job security is certainly a priority to many people, and I think that I am one of them. I have had my issues with the place over the years, and during the "dark times" I was extremely close to leaving all together. However, I persevered, lived through big changes at the place that I thought I might not be able to work through, and came out on the other side still working there. Them, a couple years later, when my outside life changed completely, the restaurant was almost literally the only thing that did not change in my life at the time. I contemplated moving out of New York at that time, for a truly fresh start, but I think that the restaurant helped me stay anchored to New York in a way that had I been working somewhere else may not have happened. Of course, comfort leads to complacency for the most part. If you don't have to fight for something, you end up resting on your laurels and becoming stagnant. I believe that to be true artistically and all, but in a restaurant? Every day in the restaurant you have to deal with new and exciting food allergies, trendy drinks, tourists, and a whole slew of new and different problems. All the while, playing out the same old pattern of food service in downtown Manhattan. Being stagnant in a restaurant job can certainly drive people crazy. I have seen it happen ad continue to see people slowly (or in some cases, fairly rapidly) deteriorate into madness. But then the comfort of schedule, the certainty of a steady paycheck, the easy familiarity of the place pulls a lot of these people back into normalcy, or something approaching this state.
The pattern of the restaurant lifestyle looks so laid back and easy from the outside. I think this is why the majority of people in the U.S. view waiters as people who have second jobs and other careers. This is true in many cases, but for some, it is a job that pays the bills, puts their kids through school, and is like any other job, only with stranger hours. I think in America, too many people think that jobs define a person. But the bottom line is that everyone needs money, so why should anyone care how you get that money if your life is fulfilling outside of that job?
I think there is a pattern in there somewhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment