Life in the industry is another world where one must learn the language…
…the head nods
Since working at Woodlawn C&P, I make runs to Restaurant Depot once a week or so to pick up supplies. Cups, napkins, etc.
You can only shop at RD if you have a membership. You can only have a membership if you have a licensed business. This cuts out the Costco crowd. Yes, it’s all bulk, but less buggies full of flat screen TVs and cigarettes.
Restaurant Depot does not have the best ingredients. They’re decent, at best, which is why we only grab paper goods and the occasional block of cheese or frozen fruit. The refrigerated section in this place is massively rad. It’s a little scary to imagine myself stuck in there without a way to leave. Slowly freezing to death at Restaurant Depot is not how I want to die.
But, there are the folks who own little restaurants and food trucks. In fact, on any given Friday (which is a dangerous day to go), you will find carts loaded to max capacity with giant pork shoulders, Mexican Coca-Cola bottles, onions, potatoes, etc.
My best advice when shopping at RD — Get in, get out. As fast as you can.
As I pass the vats of sambal oelek and plastic bags holding (it seems) an endless supply of dried porcini mushrooms, I happen upon one of those sweet moments.
When you witness an interaction that makes you glad to be doing what you do. Like the woman tossing a 40lb bag of AP flour on her cart as she adjusts it to fit beside her 30lb bag of C&H sugar. A man and woman walk up beside her, pulling their own heavy load saying, “There’s some more flour down that way…$10 bucks cheaper…on sale.” The woman replies, “OH! Thankyou…wow, you’re my new best friend…”
As the other man and woman walk on, he yells back, “I hear that…hey…we’re all in this together, ya know?”
And it hit me. Sort of got me a little teary eyed. In the middle of Restaurant Depot, an act of solidarity. Where the industry defends and supports each other knowing deep down that they will never make it rich like the TV folks do.
All they can do is buy flour on sale…and hope that it makes another person’s day a little easier. Because the work they do…is not easy. When you have glorious ideas of opening up your own bakery to sell cupcakes, you’ll probably want out right about year two — when you realize the amount of work you put in is not equal to the money you get to pull out. (If any..)
But don’t let that discourage you.
These people work hard because deep down, they love doing it. And if they do it well enough, they can actually make a living and have a life — although maybe a year or two after the restaurant opens.
I love these people. Genuine. Hard working hospitality workers fighting to make a small living in a world where so much is fake and lacks the genuine community they aim to build.
Things tend to move when you realize that we all are in this together. It takes away the sting and we become better people for it.
And we could always use a little more of that.