Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Not My Job

I've already decided that I'm not going to hire, or will fire, anyone who says that. The rule in the classroom kitchen is supposed to be that no one leaves until all of the cleaning is done. The people mopping the floor tend to shoo everyone out about ten minutes before noon so the mopping can be completed without footprints or an injury. In addition, the chefs haven't really enforced that rule. Still, there are several people who practically race for the door at the end of class--they rarely, if ever, lend a hand with the mopping (only one team of two people is assigned to mopping in the downstairs kitchen where we've spent two thirds of our time; upstairs, four people are assigned to it), they don't always do all of their own assigned tasks, and/or they don't pitch in all that much with other tasks. A couple of people always seem to be fussing with their stuff at the last minute--wrapping products, putting away tools, whatever--nearly every day (all of us get behind once in awhile, but a few people always seem to be behind in that way; to be fair, some seem to go clean for awhile and then get back to their stuff, but not everyone). Other people pitch in pretty frequently, doing the needful--I've probably mopped the floors on days when it wasn't my assignment at least 20 times (at least once a week, and often more than that); others routinely lend a hand at the dish sink or wipe down the freezers or help with the trash.

This week has been a little unusual. One person has left already, to get back to her business, which is entering its busiest season. A second person injured herself very badly last week with hot sugar. A third person has been battling some kind of severe gut inflammation, such that she did her exams this week instead of last week. Today, a fourth person didn't show up. We didn't have a lot of cleaning today, because we've mostly been finishing up the things we're serving on Friday (I finished sugar cages and did some sugar curls; other people were dipping chocolate for fucking ever; others were finishing other bits, except for the garnishes). As we finished up, we chatted with the chef for a few minutes, then I asked who was doing the mopping today--I mopped yesterday and Monday, and I really didn't feel like doing it again today, but the task was assigned to two of the people in the above litany and therefore had to be done by someone else. Of course, two people had already left the kitchen, despite the above-mentioned rule, and one of them was the person who said, in the locker room, that it wasn't her job and that she was doing other people's jobs around the kitchen.

Okay, fine, but you know what? The jobs weren't all done. We were short four people today, which meant at least two teams' worth of jobs weren't being done, most especially the mopping. Did it maybe occur to you to check and see what else needed to be done before you hightailed it out of there? No? Then why would I want to hire you? Because someone who doesn't bother to check on things is someone who's going to cost you money, in ruined product, in someone else's overtime, or in some other way. I realize I'll likely assign certain oversight functions so everyone isn't checking everything--that's wasteful, too--but our cleaning is designed to be self-managed; the chefs get on us if we do it badly, but they don't oversee the actual doing.

Most of tomorrow morning is supposed to be spent doing a massive cleaning of the kitchen (while still leaving some of that for the afternoon class, who will be using the kitchen tomorrow afternoon). One of my classmates has threatened to call anyone who calls in sick tomorrow and harass him or her. If we all come in and work together, we can knock it out in no time and get out of there early. I don't want to get all fuzzy and rose-colored, but working hard and together really does produce results.


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