Before you dive in, start here.
The topic that has come up lately has been who to blame…. The man (or woman) or the restaurant? (* see below)
Blame for what, you say? For a sub par level of communication skills, for not being present in their relationship, for choosing to spend off the clock hours at the restaurant (or hanging out with the staff) than to be at home, not keeping in contact (in any way) during one of their really long days, for not taking care of his/her family, choosing to sleep in vs. pitching in at home or with the kids/pets, for having no responsibility around finances at home (or at the restaurant if you own your own), for the RESISTANCE to talk about anything outside their comfort zone, that is obviously putting a strain on the relationship, basically a glazing over of what is a very important part of everyday life… LIFE.
And before I launch into what I want to say about this… as I’ve already mentioned here, there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule. So yes, there are those reading this right now who are not questioning where the cause is. In a perfect world, we would all like to strive to not have to feel this way but for many of us (including myself from time to time), find ourselves feeling frustrated, resentful and without understanding what’s REALLY going on in our restaurant men/womens heads…so it’s easy to want to find something to hold onto instead of constantly living in that confused and frustrated state. No need to judge yourself harshly if you are trying to find a reason for his behavior… maybe if we talk about it, it will help us find helpful ways to create solutions, instead of staying in the state we frequently are.
So… where was I… oh yes, The man or the mission?
From the conversations I’ve seen, this is NOT a black and white issue. Many of you want to blame the man and the same amount of you want to blame the restaurant. Understandably so, I find that there is a MUCH greater sensitivity to looking at the cause being the man… and SO much easier to blame the restaurant. I mean, who wants to find the cracks in the man that we have chosen to spend our lives with – SO much easier to look at the industry as the potential culprit for our lives unrest. Blaming the man somehow reaches the core of us about WHY we decided to accept this in the first place, and that is an area we definitely don’t feel comfortable treading. To touchy a subject to broach, so we default to blaming the ways in which the industry “Made him do it.”
Oh, and side note: I feel it important to say, the one topic that I’m NOT bringing up here, a VERY important one at that.. is that what WE think their missing… their perceived notion of what their “responsibilities” are, they don’t seem to even be aware of . I want to talk about that in another post….about what responsibility means, to us and to them. So for now, if you can… please read this post knowing that what I’m NOT talking about is “Don’t they know that life is about being responsible??” but that I’m WELL aware that’s a primary reason for our unhappiness (and feeling of being UNSAFE) which leads us to want to blame the man or the mission in the first place.
I’d like to actually look at both sides, I think like the “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” question, I don’t think there is a clear cut answer. I personally think they play hand in hand. I want to talk about this because whether you believe it’s the man or the mission… it might be good to give you an opportunity to adjust your stance, and find some greater peace in your restaurant relationship.
Let’s do “I think the RESTAURANT is to blame” first… or the mission, since it’s an obviously easier culprit (or is it?)
Of course it makes sense to point the finger at the place where he seems to get into the most trouble. Not returning your phone calls or texts while he’s on the line, getting a little too close for comfort to his/hers coworkers, coming home smelling like onions and a few too many adult beverages. From what you KNOW, it’s his place of employment that he seems to easily get swept up in, and unlike hearing how things are at the office like most 9-5′rs, the stories that come out of the restaurant can almost be a cross between a soap opera and a circus.
You might probably be thinking… “But if he didn’t work at the restaurant, he would be more interested at home, his priorities, etc…” The fact that it’s not just his body but his brain, taking up permanent residence at work, that he would be more…simply AWARE that life is going on around him while he’s living in the vortex of the kitchen. (You know.. like his children who get fed and clothed each day, homework done with his almost oblivious observation. I mean, HOW does he think this happens while he is on the line everyday?)
I’m wondering…Is that REALLY the case?
It’s EASY to want to blame the restaurant, I mean they’re all the same. No matter where he/she goes.. it’s always the same story, right? You could move to another state, he could start working at another restaurant (in another position perhaps) and still within some set time… it’s like you’re living in Groundhog day of “The same as it ever was”.
Makes sense. Here’s where I am conflicted – The unwritten rules and ways of being at the restaurant have been laid down WAY BEFORE your man or woman decided to enter the culinary field. THEY didn’t create them, they willingly (whether they were aware of the degree to which they’d be involved) entered into them. They knew it wouldn’t involve standing by a water cooler, sitting in a cubicle or having to wear a tie. YES… being interested in food was their motivation but they also knew they wouldn’t have an conventional career either.
And because going into the restaurant industry involves late nights and unconventional living, it ATTRACTS people who want those things.
Even the unsavory things…. (alcohol, debauchery, etc)
Yes, it might not be easy to hear (more like read) but I feel confident that your other half knew what being in this industry involved (at least enough to still proceed) and WANTED it (or thought he/she could rise above it) and that’s what sealed the deal that this is a road they wanted to travel down. Again, there are always exceptions, but most of our restaurant men and women are fun loving, spur of the moment, live for today kinda people. It takes a person like that to handle the long hours, the intense stress of a busy dinner service and the ability to change on a dime them so successful in what they do, and what makes us so attracted to them in general.
*I mean come on.. they’re not coming home talking about how they were in a Powerpoint meeting or how they have these reports to work on…you met them talking about the exciting people they met, the interesting ingredients they used or the challenges they were able to overcome. You KNEW either in that first moment or within a relatively short period of time… what life would look like being this this man (or woman.)
In fact, you were turned on by it.
For example… I’ll turn this on myself. I can NOT turn a blind eye to the fact that I KNEW well and good that sitting at the bar and enjoying a drink after my then chef boyfriends shift was a part of his semi-regular routine. I would even sometimes meet him towards the end of his shift, enjoy his new dish and a drink, and catch up on what happened that day… it was a sexy way of connecting early on in our relationship and yet, more than a decade later… I find myself surprised and disappointed when he comes home smelling of his favorite drink. I’m upset with him about this? Is it the restaurant to blame? The restaurant didn’t make him have a drink. Should I blame my now chef husband for working at a place that has alcohol so readily available when there was a time that I enjoyed the perks myself?? *and sometimes still do.
Honestly I don’t think I can. *But I still do.
The temptations and ways of being (nocturnal, fun loving, pushed to the edge, moving fast, coordinating parties..FUN) will ALWAYS be a part of what a restaurant IS. I mean that’s why WE want to go out to eat… to relax, to enjoy ourselves, be treated well by our servers and to partake in eating delicious food. People that work at a restaurant need to be the kind of people who ENJOY doing those things for the restaurant, don’t you think?
I mean…it’s not a library.
We know what we’re getting ourselves into when we go to a library. Quiet time, searching for what we’re looking for, finding a spot to read or do our research… all during business hours. Librarys do… what they are meant to do. To stimulate our brains, to educate us, to hopefully inspire us. People who have the mentality to work in a library… work in a library. Can you blame the library and it’s primary commandment of being quiet when we want to share an exciting (read: LOUD) story with our friends? NO. We just DON’T go to the library. Probably people who work at a library ENJOY the cerebral (and quiet) mindset that is necessary, and are married to people who find that an attractive quality.
Can we blame our significant other for being ATTRACTED to (yes, even in the good and the bad) what working in a restaurant is like.. REALLY?
Now about the man (or woman)… Lets do the upside and downside of why the finger is primarily pointing at your other half.
First, the upside. Going back to what I said earlier… there is a reason why our men and women are attracted to this type of lifestyle. These are the fly by the seat of their pants, living in the moment, and loving life people for a reason. I can’t shake the feeling that one of those reasons are their desire to do something with their hands. I see a few common threads between the chefs I know, one being the desire to take something apart and put it back together. Interestingly, my chef husband used to be a MECHANIC and it’s the SAME sort of career, just this involves food instead of car parts. To others, it’s about the science. The CHEMISTRY of the food. That’s why when I hear the word DECONSTRUCTED… I can’t help spark an image of the mad scientist, working over and over again to find the perfect formula. Finally, I liken what they do with their craft like I see a PAINTER, holding their palate full of oil paints, it takes time, dedication and focus to create a masterpiece… such is the same case of our beloveds and what lies within them to practice their passion.
That said, sitting at a desk will NOT allow our beloveds to feel like they’re doing what makes them feel mechanical, artistic and/or scientific. Most of them KNOW they’re not meant for the 9-5, to sit for 8 hours in front of a computer. They know that standing over a myriad of different ingredients is where they are meant to be.
The restaurant is just their vehicle for giving them the ability to be that mechanic, chemist or artist.
And, because we can’t take the up without the down… there are the things about the restaurant industry that ENABLES our other halves to enter into it. Like I wrote in the hard to say piece (see here), the restaurant industry is a work hard, play hard sorta business. It attracts those who want to work hard and play hard.
Okay… let’s be real, they want to be somewhere that they can work hard WHILE playing hard. Almost always at the same time.
And, just like WE NEED (again, claiming exceptions here) to feel the SAFETY of routine and predictability in our own lives, They live on the EDGE. I know my husband says “I’m a machine” when it comes to pushing himself and doing what he has to do. I know I’m NOT a machine and honestly am grateful for it, but I admire his tenacity and blazing drive to achieve his goals. I need that sometimes stubborn drive in HIM to inspire ME to move forward. (I find myself saying this, especially now as a new mama)
Do I LIKE all the things that make my man tick? Well no, but I KNOW that he doesn’t like all of my ways of doing things either. Ha ha. He doesn’t like that I’m CONSTANTLY thinking of the next step and the next step. It is, I’m SURE, like I’m always a BUZZKILL. In fact, I’ll be transparent, he regularly says, when we’re out doing something spontaneous, “Don’t ruin it.” What HE needs to have a good time (NOT thinking about the next step and the next step, is EXACTLY what makes me feel safe and therefore happy.
THAT’S WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER.
Whether he’s aware of it or not (He’s not), he needs me (to keep his next step in view) and I need him (to remind me that Life isn’t always about preparing for the next step. )
IS IT FUN? To be with someone who pushes our buttons because unconsciously we are with them because WE need the reminder?
But I think at the end of the day… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The man (*) and the mission are both REASONS we are where we are. We are INDEPENDENT, ACHIEVEMENT SEEKING individuals… attempting to always create BALANCE.
So, whether you focus your grievances on the man (*) or the mission… maybe you can take this moment to see how.. the reason he IS the way he/she is, WHY he works where he/she does… is exactly the reason why you are the way you are. MAYBE… just MAYBE.. there IS nothing to blame here.. but instead, to be grateful for (I know.. I’m pushing it). My prediction about you is that you’re NOT the kind of person, deep down, who likes to watch life go by (like some of the loved ones in your life do) your a risk taker (even if it’s only in your head), you have your own dreams and goals… but are sometimes too stuck in your head to make them happen.
Maybe… just maybe the man (or woman)… who loves his/her mission… helps us get out of our heads long enough to encourage us to get to where we want to be.
If we could only always remember that. Right? Damn if that’s not the tricky part.
QUESTION: Which one is your other half… mechanic, chemist or artist? I would LOVE to know!
* For the purposes of trying to keep it simple and catchy, the title of this post is man – versus man or woman). I KNOW there are a lot of women chefs out there in relationships with their fellow significant others, but at this point, most of what I’m hearing is about the men of this equation. Writing to my known audience.