After 10 years in this industry, there was a part of me that was proud to realize that I had become hard as coffin nails. I was as the industry had made me.
I had also become quick: quick witted, nimble in close quarters, and fleet of foot. I could think my way out of any problem and figure out a workaround to any surprise.
I had earned my bones.
I had also closed down my heart and flushed compassion down the toilet. Both had become liabilities to successfully accomplishing the mission. If someone’s issue or problem didn’t directly affect the objective, it had no place in my kitchen or in my mind. I needed to be focused, anything else — sick kids, the death of a loved one, or someone else’s addiction — didn’t matter to me. It wasn’t a complete day until someone cried, and it would never, ever be me.
Working backwards against the clock had become a finely-honed skill. Anything that negatively influenced that timeline had to be discarded, ignored, or forgotten.
Twenty years on, despite a stainless steel heart, late at night, the “hour of doubt” would come upon me. Trying to medicate my adrenaline high, I would sometimes consider the Faustian bargain I had made for my culinary success. I was okay giving up being a regular “citizen” for the life of a culinary pirate. I was a “kitchen dawg,” but was compassion, consideration, or empathy an equitable price to be paid for the intense, instant gratification of the ‘grind’?
It had to be, right?Read More