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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

#68 "Make Your Wish" August 9, 2013

(Click on the Image to Make it Larger!)

Bad Co-Workers

Everyone has bad co-workers. Maybe you have one or more at your place of business. Maybe you are the bad co-worker and you don't know it. Sometimes it is hard to see yourself as others see you, and when you do the same job over and over, you tend not to notice the small things that you are doing that can be incredibly annoying to the ones working around you. I was that guy once.

I had been working in New York for three years at that point. Working in any kitchen is going to be an education of swear words in at least two languages, but in New York it is brought to the next dimension. I could barely put an order in the kitchen without insulting someone or having to defend my girlfriend, mom, and all of my female cousins and aunties. So, I decided to take some time off and go work at my mom's restaurant where the pace was a little slower. I was working there for about a month, when my mom pulled me aside and said we needed to have a little chat. I literally did not know what it was about. So, we sat down and she said essentially, "I am going to have to fire you if you don't start treating the kitchen staff with a little more respect." Now, the staff at the time was my cousins and my brother-in-law on the grill. Not exactly people who I was aiming to piss off. As my mom was having this conversation, I looked back on my behavior from the last month and I realized I had been treating these guys like the kitchen in New York had been treating me. And I realized that I had gone full circle and was now the bad co-worker. These guys, my own family, had taken it upon themselves to complain to my own mother about my behavior. Then, my own mother threatened to fire me because of my bad attitude. I was amazed because I hadn't even realized what I was doing.  I had gone from one kitchen to the next thinking that all kitchens must run this way, and they run on insults and negative vibes. I mean, I should have known better, I had worked in plenty of kitchens before, and not all of them were so dysfunctional. And, to give credit where credit is due, that dysfunctional kitchen was pretty darn functional. We put out an insane amount of dinners with a small staff and an even smaller kitchen, and night after night, they went out without a hitch. These guys had the thing down to a science. And maybe that was why they were always so nasty; they were just bored. Yeah, they could serve up 200 dinners every night 300 days a week, but so what? Let's talk shit about your new haircut! What ever the reason, it had rubbed off on me and I was continuing the cycle of negativity. But I vowed to break the cycle and be more aware of my actions, and lo and behold I wasn't fired. That was the turning point for me to be a better co-worker though, that's for sure. Never again would I step into a situation thinking that I could get by on the actions I had been getting by with prior to that situation.

Not like I am always the greatest co-worker to this day. I am still a pain in the neck, like everyone else, but I try my best to stay positive in the work environment. The way I look at it these days is this: I am only at the job a finite number of hours in the week; why not try to make those hours as pleasant as possible by keeping a positive mental attitude. It's not always easy when you are stressed out, hungry, overworked, broke, and tired. In fact, it's hard to stay positive anywhere, and the last place you think that is possible is in the workplace; a place you don't really want to be but kind of have to be or else you'll be traveling the countryside with a polka-dotted bag tied to a stick. I find that copious amounts of coffee help, and then at a certain time of the evening, a glass of wine does wonders. We call it, "The Attitude Adjustment." So, what I'm saying is that I need medication to stay sane in the workplace. Haha. This entire project grew partly because literally keeping ones head down and pushing through the shift was sometimes the best way to cope with unsavory co-workers. It became so much more, but that was certainly one of the original reasons for the project.

Of course, all this talk about positive mental attitude goes out the window when you are working with truly terrible co-workers. It's hard to stay positive when someone you work with is actually costing you money. Once you cross the threshold of being annoying to the next level of actively harming your co-workers financially, then maybe it is time to look in to another line of work, or at least another place of business. And yet, people stay at the same job far after they've overstayed their welcome. I am probably one of them! I wrote in the last blog post about my brunch colleagues and I not getting along all that well. A sane person would've said, "Well, it's been three years and this person still doesn't like me, maybe I should look for a new job." But I stuck it out for another 10 years! I outlasted the people who didn't like me, or I grew on them so much that they ended up, if not liking me, than at least tolerating me enough to work alongside me for another handful of years.
So, I guess the takeaway is that there are always bad co-workers and you just have to try not to be one of them. As far as the guys in the kitchen are concerned; I still work with half of the original crew. We still go back and forth with each other, but after working together for 13 years, it has become more of a secret language than insults. When a new person is introduced onto the scene, all we have to do is say one word, and the whole crew ends up laughing. Except, of course, the poor new dude.

No comments:

Post a Comment