As I tarry on in this proverbial "first step" of a thousand step journey (definitely one of my top 10 favorite "journey" related proverbs) I can slowly begin to feel frustration working it's way into the edges of my consciousness.
I'm rapidly approaching three months at my internship, and apart from the well deserved self-congratulation of feeling slightly less retarded, and my own personal opinion that I've moved into the realm of deserving minimum wage as opposed to nothing, not much has changed as far as my prospects are concerned. And as awesome as it is to feel like a character in a Coen Brothers movie ("Vernon here has a job! Vernon has prospects, he's bona fide!"), in real life it's beginning to feel like a bit of a drag.
The good news is that there is a definite possibility that the chef at my place at least as much as likes me. I can feel somewhat confident of this due to the sad account of about a month ago he walked straight up to me, which (ridiculously) makes me nervous and sweaty, and asked me, "Hey man, when do you graduate from school again?"
Me: (realizing this is the wrong answer to give) "Not until January, chef... A long time..."
Him: "It is a long time..." he walks away. Over his shoulder he says, shaking his head, "That is a long time... Ten fucking people will probably quit between now and January..."
The cooks that were down there with me assured me that this was a good thing. It seems he was at least thinking of hiring me.
And it was a good thing, with the wrong answer...
The next day the first of about ten cooks came in for a kitchen trail, all of which had vastly more experience than I do, and two of whom were hired.
Oh well, there's like a billion restaurants in the city, right? One of them will hire me, won't they?
So far, sadly, the answer is, no.
I know I keep harping on this fact, but it's one that I still really can't get my mind around, but we're talking about an $8 an hour manual labor job.
The artistry and talent of cooking in a kitchen doesn't even come into play for at least a year or two of toiling in the Garde Manger or other entry level positions at which point a chef "might" decide that you're not as much as a dumbfuck as everyone thinks you are and "might" ask your opinion on a dish.
These are all really big "mights."
The reality is that it's like any other art. You have to stretch canvas and clean paint brushes for another painter for a few years before you even begin to have a clue how to paint, despite talent level. You have to play your guitar for a few years to build up the callouses and learn chord progressions, you have to write a million words before you learn to write, throw a million pitches before you learn how to pitch... I mean pick your cliche here, but it all basically boils down to the fact that you have to learn to be a technician of an art before your talent and drive can propel you to greatness... Or in my case propel you to the heights of $10 an hour or more (some places pay $12!)
The sad thing is that it isn't the low pay or the long hours that's frustrating, it's the lack of even being able to do it.
Most places hiring want a minimum of 2-3 years experience in 3-4 star restaurants for their entry-level job openings, and with this economy (a phrase I thought we voted against when we voted for Obama) they're getting hundreds of applicants that fit that...
And if that's not enough of an obstacle, most places want you to work full time, which means 6 days a week at about 10 hours a day, and because I'm in school, I can't do that.
It's somewhat ironic that I went to school in order to get a good job, but right now the biggest thing holding me back from getting a good job is me being in school...
I mean, where's Alanis Morrissette when you need her? (this is a question that has been unable to be answered since about 1998)
Also adding to that "Jagged Little Pill" is the fact that I over qualify for every single front of the house postings...
I know this is temporary, and that I'll be balls deep in the shit soon enough, but it's becoming more and more humiliating asking Liz for $2 for a cup of coffee everyday. I mean, I'm 33 years old and I have to have my friends pay me to hang out with them in the way of them buying me beers after class...
I know I'm doing the right thing, and paying my dues and all that, but I'm over it. This, of course, is compounded be the fact that school is basically becoming a restaurant job that I pay $300 a class for, so it's not just that I'm working 30+ hours a week at my internship for no money, I'm working over 50 hours a week for negative $900... All with the ultimate reward of paying it back with an insane amount of interest over the next 10 years $8 at a time...
Happily, due to an either legendary bout of denial, or the saddest bout of stupidity in history, I'm really not regretting my decision, nor has my confidence wavered on my abilities nor paths chosen. I'm really just hoping that this all goes away soon.
It's possible that it's just a super combo of shit right now, and craigslist sure isn't helping, but I'm ready for the next step on this little sub-journey that I'm taking, Universe...
As always I remain your humble servant,