Friday, October 14, 2011


When my alarm buzzed this morning I could barely open my eyes. I felt as though I had only just put my head on my pillow. My eyes felt as if I had been crying all night, dry and puffy and just wanting to stay shut. But no, I pulled myself from my bed, got dressed, and made my way to my metro for work.

To say I wasn't looking forward to it would be a bit of an understatement. My sister, Abigail, skyped me last night after reading my blog, "WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?" and gave me a little pep talk. She explained that I was awesome and that this guy, my chef, is obviously a psychopath and that I need to stop allowing him to waste my time. Why was I afraid of him? She asked me. What would he do? Yell? Just stand up to him. Just let him know, politely, that I wouldn't be pushed around and that my time was valuable, that I could be an asset to his team if he would let me. All completely understandable things to say. Very good, older sister advice. Yet do I want to take it? Hell no!

Let me start by explaining that I'm sort of a coward. Just the thought of standing up to this guy makes my throat tremble and brings tears to my eyes. I don't exactly know why I'm like this and the most difficult part about it is that most of my family and friends don't see this side of me. I am able to stand my ground, be stubborn, shout, yell, throw a tantrum, or speak my mind when it comes to the people I know and love. I can even stand up to a complete and utter stranger if the time calls for it. Are you a man trying to put his hands all over me on the dance floor without getting my permission first? Well then I'm gonna jab you in the ribs and tell you to fuck off! But if you're my boss or some other person of consequence that hasn't nuzzled their way into the cockles of my heart (or more importantly, I haven't nuzzled my way into yours) then I am utterly paralyzed when it comes to confronting you about anything.

And let's not forget that my chef is also mentally unbalanced. Who knows what he could do?! Sure I would guess that he wouldn't do any harm to me outside of damaging my ear drums with his screaming, but still it isn't that that scares me so much. It's the part that I would have to play of standing up for myself, finding the words to do so and then, even more frightening, actually saying them in the correct order.

For these above reasons my sister's pep talk had the reverse effects of what she had intended. Instead of feeling empowered and confident I felt exceptionally aware of what a sissy I am. And since I also spent my two days off deciding that I hated it there and that I wanted to find a new internship and that they only ever had me do the things no one else would want to do, I didn't exactly walk through the doors with a "carpe diem" feeling beating in my chest.

All of this definitely showed in my work and my attitude today. First, every job I was given seemed to support my feelings of mutiny. "Oo slicing figs and putting them on the fig tart! Woo hoo," I thought, "this will mostly likely be the highlight of my day!" And I can't say that I was wrong either. The jobs I was sent to do involved peeling apples and cutting them in half, going and picking up a bunch of tart molds and taking the labels off of them, and putting the tops on macarons. We've heard this tune sung before. The mental stimulation was overwhelming.

But the worst part of my day was not the feeling of depression I felt knowing I was too chicken-shit to ask my boss for a more difficult task but when I actually failed at the most simple thing he has ever asked me to do. Hold the sieve. That was all I had to do. Hold it while he poured coulis through it. And of course I found a way to fuck it up. As I stood holding the sieve, it full with hot coulis, I could feel the nervousness piling up inside me. I was actually interacting with my chef and this always made me feel extremely pressured and terrified. And these inner jitters came bubbling out making me lose my grip on the sieve. It may have only been for a second but the damage was done. I had managed to pour an ample amount of the coulis all over the cabinet, the floor, and myself. My boss turned and saw it and said, "Ne pas possible," which essentially means, "I can't believe it." I was thinking the same thing.

Though he did not freak out or scream at me I was still numbed by my own idiocy. All I did was stand there silently as if by not moving I would somehow disappear. Too bad I never got my Hogwarts letter, that whole disapparating thing would really come in handy sometimes. And of course, here I'm trying to prove to him that I can do something of import and I can't even hold a damn sieve steady! I gave myself a plentiful internal beating while cleaning up the mess I had made. And I did this for everyone's viewing pleasure. I even had to get out the giant squeegee and scrape the coulis into one of the drains in the floor. This did not help my confidence in myself and I could see the little confidence my chef had in me collapse like a bouncy house after a nine-year-old's birthday party.

Then, for what I told myself was clearly punishment, they gave me the glorious task of putting chocolate pearls into little, round, clear, plastic boxes, putting the lids on them, and taping the lids on with "scotch," and then putting labels on them. The highlight of this job was not in the job itself but in the exciting place that I got to complete it. In a tiny little corner of a walkway where I had to tuck myself between two rollie tables or be trampled by the traffic going up and down the stairs. What the hell? It's times like these when I imagine what lepers must have felt like back in the day. Sure I spilled some hot coulis but I had mostly spilled it on myself. Did I really deserve to be banished to the corner like some pariah? And where was Patrick Swayze, aka Johnny Castle, now?

While I know that making yourself do things you aren't always comfortable with is how you grow as a person, I really, really, really, really, don't want to ever speak to my chef. I mean never. I don't even want to ask him what time it is, or if it's raining outside. I hate feeling like an idiot and I generally feel like one most of the time as it is. Add onto that the fact that I speak french as well as a poorly trained Parisian parrot and I'm a complete imbecile. Then we pour on the self-doubt and terror and I may as well be lobotomized.

Tomorrow I am going to try not to let myself be my own worst enemy and while I may not grow the balls I need overnight in order to deal with this a-hole, I am planning on checking out some other pastry shops in the area to see what else is out there for me. I'm only here for so long and while I may be too afraid to say it to his face, he really is just wasting my time and money and I'm too good to put up with it.

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