now is a good time to panic


culinary wonder…the final installment

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V, part VI, part VII, and part VIII

Theresa gives up on her job and starts looking for another one. She finds a nice one within a week. A few days after she started, she got off shift and walked to the bar across the street, intending on only having one cocktail. Another cook shows up and she ends up drinking the night away with her friend instead of going home. She had about five double shots and a few beers, then they took an 18 pack home with them. The next day they were both off, so they drank the entire day; until about 1700/1800 the next day. Her coworker took her home and instead of being dropped off at her parents’ house, she goes to the pub down the street. The pub closes she starts to walk home with a fifth of Jack. She was woken up the next morning by her father. She had made it home, and passed out on the porch without shoes or her cell phone or cigarettes. She stumbled upstairs and slept the entire day.

 

The next day, she goes into work for business as usual and the manager calls her into his office… and gives her a raise. That was a month ago, and she hasn’t had a drink since. She’s been doing nothing but working and saving money and is going to join the German in his new restaurant in a few months. She’s nervous about calling him, because she knows he’ll be disappointed in her. She’s been reassured by his second in command that as long as she keeps herself together, there’s a place waiting for her. She’s estimating about three more months before she can afford to go start her new job.

 

Theresa is now focused on getting structure back in her life, starting a routine, and planning for her new life. She works almost every day, and her days off are spent studying molecular gastronomy… definitely a 180 from where she was six months ago. Things are finally starting to look up.



culinary wonder part VIII

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V, part VI, and part VII

 

The entire night before and subsequent ride to the airport, Theresa is worrying. It’s the end of her professional career, she’s going to stay with her parents with whom she does not get along at all (especially her father), and her life is falling apart. As soon as she gets to the airport, she finds a bar. Sitting in the bar, she pounds a few drinks, then stumbles to her gate. She boards the plane and then passes out as soon as she gets to her seat. When she lands at her home airport, the thought of her dad waiting to pick her up sends her into a panic and she finds another bar to order a few drinks before he arrives.

 

Her father shows up before she has time to become completely shitfaced. He could probably tell she had been drinking, but he didn’t say anything. They had a sappy reunion (which Theresa credits to a combination of booze and missing home) consisting of her bursting into tears, dropping her bags, and throwing her arms around her father. They throw her stuff in the back of the car, and go home. The ride home was mostly quiet, with a little conversation. When they arrived, Theresa slept for almost two days. All her parents ask is that she not drink or do any drugs while she’s at home with them.

 

Within a few days of returning home, Theresa went back to the first restaurant she ever worked in, and was instantly rehired. She worked there and immediately started hanging out with her old crowd. She’d go a week without drinking, then binge with her friends. Not just getting a nice little tipsy buzz, but full on, balls to the wall blackout. This lasted two months. She’d come home drunk from work and her parents would be pissed, and she’s drink before work. Her job gradually stopped putting her on the schedule, and used the excuse of ‘business is just slow right now’.She talked to her manager and he confessed that it was because of her drinking and unreliability. One day she finds her dad’s Everclear and drank so much that her mom had to call in sick at work for her the next day. After she sobered up, she didn’t drink for a day and immediately started to withdraw. She couldn’t get out of bed by herself, and had to even ask for help while showering. The withdrawal lasted for 72 hours.



culinary wonder part VII

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V and part VI

(At this point in the narrative, Theresa wants to make it clear that she should have taken time to unwind after work, or found more productive ways to deal with the stress and the triggers other than drinking. She confessed that she was taking things too personally at work and at home, and was letting things that she had no control over get to her. Now she’s learned to let things go more easily and to not obsess over problems that she couldn’t fix. She maintains that if she had learned this skill growing up, then she thinks that a huge number of her problems would have been avoided. Not all of them, but things would have been very different. She wasn’t happy cooking anymore, and she’d already been taken off of her anti-depressents, and then things began to escalate again)

 

She tried her hardest for a long time to hide the fact that she had started drinking again, but the resort community is a small one, and soon people started to figure it out. She would attempt to drink one or two beers out at the bar where people could see her, and then go home and pound a 12 pack. She’d pass out in different places, or make it home and pass out in the hallway with her front door wide open. She was spending huge amounts of money and things were going downhill again.

 

One day she came in reeking of liquor and one of the higher ups sent her home for the day. They asked what she was doing, and why she’s doing this again… and Theresa says that she didn’t have an answer; there is no reason. She was just depressed and dealing with it poorly. One morning soon after she woke up as normal, and went to get her paycheck, then find a liquor store. She bought a half pint of whiskey and a six pack of pints of beer. She thought ‘This’ll be good for a buzz before work’. She gets home and cleans the house, drinking the entire time. Along with the whiskey and the beer, she drinks some vodka that she found in her kitchen. She gets dressed and then blacks out. She was supposed to be at work at 1400, but instead wakes up on her kitchen floor wearing her chef’s whites while a human resource director is leaning over her. The HR director tells her that the maintenance guy comes to fix the a/c and thinks Theresa is dead, and runs to the nearest office. The HR woman talks to Theresa, and they conclude that Theresa  has a rough past, her uncle is dying, she’s severely overworked, and she hasn’t been home or seen her family in years. They agree that Theresa should go home for a few months and pull herself together. She bought a plane ticket, packed up her chef’s knives and some clothes, and gave away the rest of her belongings. 12 hours later, she was passed out on the floor again, and is woken up (again) by the HR director for her ride to the airport. She gets on the plane at 0600 the next morning.



culinary wonder part VII
11 October 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: food! | Tags: , ,

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V and part VI

 

Nobody knows why the German has put in his notice. Theresa has been working off the clock to help keep up with the workload, and she runs into him one night. The German asks to speak to her ‘about life’ sometime at the end of the week. She already has 100,000 things on her mind and is trying to maintain her sanity. She steps outside to smoke and tries to figure out what the hell he’s talking about. Finally her impatience gets the better of her and she texts him, begging to know what’s going on. She gets a smiley face in response and is told that he’ll see her in two days. Two anxious days come and go, and they meet in the employee cafeteria for their talk. 

 

The German asks her what her life’s plans are. Theresa responds that she’s not planning on staying the the resort for much longer, especially now that he’s leaving. She doesn’t agree with how the place is run, how overworked the employees are, and she’s worried about snapping. She doesn’t mind working hard, and for long hours, but she does mind being taken advantage of, and she’s concerned about the direction that the resort is heading. He told her he understands exactly where she’s coming from. The German is opening up his new chain of restaurants, and he wants Theresa to join him. She just needs to keep her chin up and bide her time there for a few more months.

 

The German left a month after the court ordered appointments ended. Everything at work began going downhill, and Theresa started drinking again to deal with the stress.Now that she’s started drinking again, it’s game on. She picked up right where she left off, drinking before work, over lunch, and to straight blackout every night when she got off.



culinary wonder part VI

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, part III, part IV  and part V

The new executive chef left within the first month of his employment, fired by the German for his lack of consistency. Shortly after his departure, the German decided that he was not only going to be the food and beverage director, but also be the executive chef. Theresa and her friend felt honored to be working under such an accomplished and well known chef. She was irritated at how the other people in the kitchen took the German’s experience and credentials for granted and didn’t try to learn anything from him or further themselves. She went home exhausted and happy every night.

 

Theresa is six months sober, on antidepressants, was a vegetarian and studying Buddhism, was working out every day, and was in a good place in her relationship with her boyfriend. She was comfortable in her own skin, no longer afraid of life, and genuinely happy. The only downside was that she received very little support from her coworkers while she strove for perfection in the kitchen. She’s up for promotion and is getting nervous, and the holiday season is upon them so they’re getting busy. She was told that there’s a new executive chef coming in, and she has to wait on her promotion. She loves learning the extra duties, but is still anxious to be getting paid for what she’s doing. The German is talking up the new chef big time, bragging about how he’s traveled the world and trained in every fancy kitchen you can imagine… he turns out to be a nut job. He was verbally abusive, big on sexual harassment, and would not hesitate to get physical if he was angry with you… he lasted until New Year’s Eve.

 

Since they were in season at this point, the German is too busy to be the executive chef as well as his primary job as food and beverage director. Theresa is promoted to head line cook. Everybody is stressed out. They’re understaffed, underpaid, the Christmas bonuses aren’t what they were the year before, and there are new locations opening without enough supporting staff. Everyone in the kitchen has been working ridiculous hours with no days off. One week Theresa worked 120 hours… and there were some cooks that worked more than that. Everyone is on edge, biting their tongues. Theresa is asked to help with a new menu, so she’s between the kitchen and the office, working on the new menu whenever she can find the time. One day out of nowhere, the German puts in his notice.



culinary wonder part V

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, part III, and part IV 

Theresa got into a rehab center in Miami. She was expecting it to be really awful, like being in jail. She thought she’d be on lockdown with forced AA meetings for like 12 hours a day. It turns out to be a schmancy facility in a gated community with basketball courts, a baseball field, and the inside was newly renovated. She is there for a day and decides this must be what summer camp is like. Its program is specially designed for kids under 25 that grew up around drugs or in otherwise negative environments and don’t have any job skills direction in their lives. It wasn’t an AA or a NA based rehab, their primary focus was helping you learn to deal with your addiction and recovery in such a way that you can function in the real world. Their schedule was very regimented and they get to choose classes in different areas that interest them. They had choices between music, art, computer technology, physical fitness, culinary, etc. Theresa ended up going with the culinary classes. Those classes took up the majority of her day; from 0700 until about 1400. She didn’t tell anyone that she had been cooking professionally, but it got around and she ended up helping the chef teach the other students. After some experience sharing what she knew in the kitchen, she found her niche. Theresa loved teaching.

 

Theresa enjoyed living the structured lifestyle. Since she’s so used to being in kitchens, she appreciated the structure, and credits that rehab schedule for helping her to correct the lack of structure in her own life. The center was run on a points system. You could earn a point a day. Once you hit 120 points, you could leave. You could get your point docked for the day by breaking rules, or if a counselor saw you being amazing, then they could give you an extra point for the day. It took Theresa three months to earn her 120 points, but that is really good. There were people that had been in there for about six months and still hadn’t earned their 120 points yet. If you relapsed, they would take away all your points (and sometimes even drop you into the negatives) and you started over from scratch. Theresa reports it as a very encouraging environment, and they worked to find what was best for each patient.

 

There were a number of kids around the age of thirteen or so that were court ordered to rehab and didn’t take it seriously. The other members called then ‘jits’ and tried to counsel them and mentor them. Most of the jits refused to believe that they had any problem at all and ignored the advice of the older patients. While Theresa was there, there was an extremely high number of people in there for heroin and oxycotin, but most of the younger kids were there for pot. On the weekends, they would be able to go out to the movies or the beach. After 30 days, you were eligible for a day pass or to go see your parents. After 60 days, you could go home for the entire weekend.

 

3o days before her release, Theresa would wake up at 0500 on a Friday and would take the bus system down to the restaurant. The bus ride would be 6-7 hours (as opposed to a 3 hour drive by car) and she could be back in the kitchen by 1300. They were glad to have her back, but it was different by the time she returned. The Swiss chef quit and moved to North Carolina, there was a new executive chef, and almost complete turnover in the kitchen. The menu that Theresa had worked so hard designing had been scrapped and there was no consistency. One good thing at the time was that there was a new cook that she clicked with while doing her weekend shifts, but unfortunately they never got to work much together. When Theresa returned from rehab, they placed this guy in her fine dining section to work with her. They’d help each other with homework or management duties, and they got to be good friends.



culinary wonder part IV

…continued from culinary wonder part I, part II, and part III

Theresa opted for rehab and is instructed to not stop drinking so she doesn’t have a seizure from withdrawal. The counselor stopped enforcing her appointments and is trying to find a bed for Theresa. Now Theresa is back to drinking a 12 pack of beer before work. The day after her birthday last May (2011), she’s getting ready for work with a beer in her hand. She gets a phone call saying that they’ve finally found a bed and she has to go right NOW. She showed up to detox with a Heineken in her hand and chugs it before they open the door. Her friend called the restaurant and told them that she’s finally got a bed. They’re aware of the legal situation, but she still doesn’t know if she’ll have a job when she gets out.

 

So now she’s back in the same place she detoxed in a year ago. They actually overdid it on the meds because of her past problem with pills, and she saw the same counselors she knew from a year ago. After three days, she’s detoxed and back at work. The original counselor is trying to find her a rehab that will work for her and got her on antidepressants. She finally got into a rehab a few weeks later. She gave work the phone number and the address to the rehab she was going to. As she’s in the office, the German sees her and pulls her aside. He tells her that she’s done amazing things there and she will have a job when she gets clean. Theresa is floored, and thanks him.

 




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