This is the backstory for why I was holding a knife and covered in blood from collar-bone to ankles by 8am every day. I was the kitchen manager at Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon. In order to be a front-of-the-house manager, I had to be a back-of-the-house manager first.
I was at work by 6am, loading 100lb boxes of beef off the MBM truck. Then I suited up with a mesh metal glove and body-length apron to clean and cut cold beef into filets, ribeyes, NY strips, and delmonicos.
Blood pours out everywhere when big slabs and loins of beef are pulled out of plastic wrapping. It also splatters when the heavy pieces are maneuvered around the table. There’s even more blood when the cutting begins. I looked and smelled like a walking crime scene when I was finished. Very sexy look.
It wasn’t pretty work, but it was rewarding. Eventually.
It physically beats your ass, and the dudes in the kitchen treat you like shit because you’re a girl. The chicks treat you like shit because you’re a girl. All the MBM drivers who deliver everything to the back door treat you like shit. Because you’re a girl. It’s boot camp in the restaurant world, and that’s why they make you do it.
Essentially they think they’re going to break you, and that’s the goal. Not because they’re mean – it’s because they want to know who will be able to bail them out on the grill when they have 37 tickets and the shit hits the fan on a Saturday night.
I’ve never been more exhausted than I was the first month of that summer. I slept until 5pm on my one day off each week. The shifts were 12 hours – it beats your ASS until you acclimate.
In addition to the ass-beating work, there was always an air of competition. One of them revolved around “yields.” That’s based on the most steaks cut out of the total pounds of beef that were checked in that week. The results were read aloud by the General Manager every week in our staff meeting.
I earned the highest yields in the county by the second week and held my record for the rest of the summer. Every steak has to be weighed before you put it on the tray. If it’s too heavy you have to cut some off, and that extra piece is wasted. If you cut it too light, it’s no good at all (although some would put two pieces of a filet together and wrap it in bacon and hope the guest didn’t notice or complain). Anyway, the tendency is to cut heavy, and trim to the proper weight. That is, if you’re a lazy asshole who doesn’t care about yields…
The first time I met each of the MBM drivers that serviced our store, they all asked for the kitchen manager. When I said it was me, they rolled their eyes and walked back to the truck. Note: they’re only responsible for getting the boxes to the back of the truck. The kitchen manager pulls them off, loads the hand truck and hauls everything inside. They all assumed I would play the girl card, but y’all know me better than that. I pulled off every 100 pound box and loaded every hand truck. I only weighed 15 pounds more than the average box, so I had to take them in one at a time dangling off the back of the hand truck, but I worked it out.
It took a while to earn their respect. Every week they would eyeball me waiting to see which week I would crack. I never did. Eventually they were all so appreciative of me pulling my own weight, they offered to load the hand trucks and take it all in for me.
I never accepted.
We had a mutual respect for each other and I wasn’t about to dick around with that. We all had one thing in common.
We weren’t giant sissy bitches.
What was the hardest job you ever had? Have you had to fight for respect at work? What work have you done that you’re most proud of?