Commodore Nicole's Blog: Keep your station clean... or I WILL KILL YOU!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keep your station clean... or I WILL KILL YOU!

Posted by Nicole at 11:02 AM

So before I got my shit together I managed a little shop in Gibraltar - Jim's Galley (Yep, nautical themed, imagine that). I pretty much worked with one other adult (in age only) and the rest were teenagers.

The shop served pizza, salads, grinders, and so on. There was a moderate amount of food prep to be done and most of it had to do with cutting, slicing, and chopping the veggies.

I being what I would call a NORMAL person would use the appropiate tool for each specific task. Something I picked up HELPING MY MOM in the kitchen and by watching the Frugal Gourmet.

Most of the teens I hired were -uhm- ridiculously uninformed about food prep upon entering the work force. So I developed the Veggie Peeler Test.

During the training period I would make sure a variety of tools were within arms reach and clearly visible before setting the trainee to task. I'd SHOW THEM EXACTLY what needed to be done and how to do it. Using the specific tool for slicing tomatoes, chopping onions, cutting cucumbers, or whatever else was on the list.

On their next shift, I'd set the tools out again and then instruct them to cut cucumbers.

It never failed that they'd pick up a cucumber, completely ignore the peeler as their finger tips brushed over it to grab the largest chopping knife and proceed in committing veggie hari-kari.

The cucumber would go from cylinder looking to completely squared off. The slices would be box like and about a third of the size they could have been.

After thanking God they hadn't taken off a finger in the process, I'd pick up the peeler.

Nicole: What is this tool?
Teen: I don't know?
Nicole: You've never used this before?
Teen: No.
Nicole: How did your Mom make a salad?
Teen: uuuhhhhhh (blank).......

I seriously wanted to call their mothers. One, to clarify that the teens weren't just saying they didn't when they really did. And two - to question what the hell they were doing as mothers if their child hadn't used a freaking veggie peeler ever before in their lives. (This was before I was a Mother so hense my own ridiculous assumptions.)

For the record I tried on several occasions to start with "This is a veggie peeler, we use it to do A,B, and C." It NEVER stuck. The next time I told them to do something that required they use it - they'd just pick up the biggest knife they could find and destroy a poor defenseless piece of produce.

But the Veggie Peeler Test wasn't just useful for gauging their skills, it also gave me insight into their ability to take direction, their maturity, and a huge look at their personality.

For the most part I determined that they were all good persons who would do well (eventually) - but that without a doubt they were all mentally disabled and pretty much unable to process rational thoughts about the future, their well being and the consequences of their actions.

Really the The Veggie Peeler Test was not about choosing the Veggie Peeler - it was about choosing a good tool for the task at hand (I would have accepted a pairing knife as an acceptable choice). Because if someone can't determine how using the biggest freaking knife ever (with a blade that only JASON VOORHEES could wield elegantly) to cut up a cucumber could pose a danger to their well being -yeah- brain action impaired.

FYI - I only ever had TWO employees that passed the test from the get go. And they were girls.

Now, I'll admit that I have in fact used the biggest knife in the drawer to cut up a cucumber. Mostly it was to show those little snots that I could wield the weapon AND produce a beautifully sliced cucumber to adorn the a salad worthy of the Waldorf. But there was a element of putting some fear into them about Nicole's knife skills - can't run a tight ship without the crew being just a little afraid.
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