Even as we write down these stories one of those crazy incidents has happened
that makes you wonder how things can get so out of control.
The floor in the dish area where I've been working was in desperate shape. The tiles were breaking up and there were gaps in the floor which made it difficult to work. In order to fix it the dish area had to be shut down. A small temporary machine was sat up by my pot and pan sink, to do the dishes while the main machine was down.
The first morning we had this machine sat up the other dishwasher and I were trying different ways of setting the area up so we could make the system work.
One of the cooks was responsible for bringing up the stock. Without telling us why, he moved the dish cart and tables aside and went downstairs. We put them back, still trying to figure exactly how we were going to make everything work. Suddenly the cook came upstairs with a bellman's cart full of stock, and drove it angrily into the dish carts.
"You can't have that stuff there!" He screamed. "I moved it out of the way. Keep it out of the way. I've got to get back and forth through here."
"Calm down!" I told him. "There's no problem! We can move the stuff! Relax! You can get by any time you need to."
"No! You're going to listen to me!" the cook raved. "You can't have that stuff there at all. It's going to have to be set up some other way!"
"Calm down," I kept telling him. "It's no problem. Wait 'til the boss comes in, and we'll get it settled. But there's no reason why we can't work together."
"No!" the cook kept insisting. "Get that stuff out of there! You're not going to have it in there! That's MY passageway. You're going to keep it clear!"
I kept telling him just to shut up about it and we'd take care of it when the boss came in. But he just kept right on raving.
Finally my limited patience just ran out and I said, "Just shut the f--- up and leave me to hell alone! We'll settle it when the boss comes in."
"What in the hell's the matter with you? Why can't you carry on a conversation with somebody without cursing? Where in the hell did you learn to talk like that? Is that how you got the little boys when you were in Thomaston?" (Maine State Prison.)
That's when I REALLY exploded! I walked over to him in a rage. "Don't you EVER insinuate I'm a homosexual, you dope head!" I told him. "I told you, if you've got a problem wait 'til the manager comes in, then we'll get it taken care of. Otherwise, SHUT UP!"
"Don't give me that, JERRY!" the cook screamed. (He knows I hate being called Jerry and refuses to call me by my proper name. It makes him angry that I won't accept it.) "Everybody in here knows what you are. You don't fool anybody."
"Stop insulting me," I told him. "Enough is enough! Knock it off!"
You're not going to do anything, Jerry," he kept saying, "There's nothing you can do!"
Each time he said this, he kept raising his fist like he was going to strike me. The third time he did this I'd had just about all I could take and I spat in his face.
"Oh, my God!" the cook cried. "How can you do that to somebody? That was uncalled for! Why can't you be civil to anybody! What's the matter with you?"
He ran off to the phone and called the boss, and of coure lied like anything. He had done absolutely nothing. My attack on him was totally unprovoked. I was dangerous and shouldn't be in the kitchen.
The boss came in later very upset. I tried to explain to him what had happened, but he simply wouldn't listen.
"I can't tolerate you spitting on anybody, Gerald, that's completely out of line, expecially in this day and age. No matter what they did, that's not permissible. It simply can't be done."
"That's your opinion," I answered, "But a man can only be pushed so far. There's a limit to what people can say and do."
"NO, Gerald," he argued, "there's some things that can't be done, under any circumstances, and you did one of those things. I'll get you two together tomorrow and we'll talk this over."
When we got together I was forced to apologize to the cook, but I made it quite clear I did so only to keep my job. And I deeserved an apology too, for the things he said which I never got.
The cook extended his hand and said, "Come Gerald, let's let bygones be bygones!"
"Not a prayer," I told him, "As long as you stay out of my face and leave me alone, there won't be any
problem. But from now on if you've got any complaints about me you take them to the boss. If you
people want to play pranks on each other, insult each other, I don't care. But I'm here to work, not play.
And you leave me alone at all times."
"That's not acceptable!" the cook moaned. "Your apology's not acceptable! I can't work here with a fear
all the time that you're going to get upset over nothing and stab me in the back or something."
"I've really had enough of this!" I complained. "Now I've apologized. I'd like to get back to work. Let's
get this over with."
"Agreed!" the boss answered. "But remember, Gerald, no more screaming and hollering in the kitchen. If you've got a complaint bring it to me. We're doing very little business here this time of year,
we really don't need all the crew we have. There's no reason why we can't get along with each other."
"I agree 100%!" I told him. "All I'm asking for is a little common courtesy. And if the people want to
play, to play with each other, but to leave me alone."
"Fine," the boss agreed.
We talked a couple of more minutes and finally got out of the office. The cook was not satisfied. He
hadn't got what he wanted, which was me being fired.
I strongly believe that that was the purpose of the whole incident, that he had purposely pushed the small incident to the breaking point to create an excuse to have me fired, that he was trying to goad me into hitting him. I might be wrong but the whole incident was so stupid and ridiculous that I will always hate that suspicion, no matter how much anyone tried to convince me otherwise.
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