April 7, 2011

front, back, or... outside of the house?

It's almost been two weeks since I switched from savory to pastry and I have yet to put up a pastry post because I've been so busy.

I recently took a hostessing job at a popular, upscale kind of place, and it took took 7 out of my 10 spring break days, long continuous hours of being up on my feet, seating people, setting and resetting silverware, bussing tables, rearranging seats, fetching menus, wiping counters, taking calls, making reservations, checking statuses, quoting wait times, etc. etc. etc.

It's an interaction type of job, where people flow past you, an endless stream one hour and a trickle the next, but you're lucky if you can steal a moment to yourself. It's strange because in culinary school we're well-acquainted with the intensity of the "back of the house", in the kitchen where everything is time-sensitive and the interchange of ingredients and hands and heat oil and fire occur simultaneously and in a perilous blur. You can burn out easily working in such conditions, in the restaurant business, but I've found the "front of the house" no different, so far.

In the restaurant where I work, the front of the house is defined by a near constant + necessary vigilance in maintaining oneself presentable and courteous to all, whereas the back of the house is busy but there is music and conversation and food and camaraderie! And perhaps best of all, no interactions with customers ever.

Don't get me wrong, I do love connecting with people, and I do want a people-centered job, but the type of interaction matters completely. At my last job it was hard too, alternating between self-directed office tasks (mental freedom!) and brief but charged interchanges with (or should I say, disturbances from) the formerly homeless tenants I served. But looking back I would prefer that, if only just to be able to sit.

Ideally I would like a job where I am afforded mental freedom, stretches of productive time to myself, but also focused periods of meaningful exchange with people. So I know what I want, but I don't know where to find it. Story of my life, maybe. I just have to keep looking - front, back, inside, around, everywhere.


  1. sounds like you want to work in local government or healthcare.