I’ve had a lot of different coworkers over the years
The culinary industry is a bit different than most. Its different in that often, the person directly next you will see more of you than any person in your family, or anyone you know for the duration of your time working together this could be months, possibly years. You are not in separate cubicles, you are maybe a few feet away. Close enough to smell them, which you often might, if it is a hot summer and the hoods in the kitchen are not up to par. Whether you like it or not, you and your new coworker will be working as a team. You will need to communicate constantly every evening with them to synchronize orders. There will be terminology flying around such as:
Expeditor: “Walking in on fire! two donalds (Duck), one thumper (Rabbit), and three bambi (Venison)”.
You: “Thank you, I can be ready on a thumper and bambi and plate in 4 minutes”.
Coworker: “I need 6 minutes on donalds right now, they need to rest, lets plate another table quickly and come back to them”.
You and Expeditor: Ok, thank you.
This will continue, every few minutes or so until all the customers are fed, on weekends, maybe from 5-12 pm, or later if you are working in a kitchen that’s open late. It is the same during day shifts when there are rushes. That is seven hours of communication and interaction you will be enjoying with your coworker whether you like it or not.
You and your coworkers will be exposed to certain conditions together: stress, long hours standing, and the little small group dynamics that always seem to play themselves out as people get to know one another. As you are so physically close to them, even though you are not cooking the same food, should they get more busy than you, you will probably be needed to assist them in plating dishes should the need arise. You have to be conscious of what each other are doing, because if one person “goes down” you and other employees must step in, or the whole thing will fall apart, which is a contributing factor to how some restaurants fail.
During the busy heat of service, you will weave in and out of each other quickly and silently, like dancing ninjas juggling razor sharp knives and 700 degree pans filled with molten liquid oil that could warrant an immediate hospital visit should it splash on bare skin. You must be a team, or you will fail. You must keep your wits about you. Most likely the only audible communication you will hear between us is the annunciation of what we are doing for safety reasons:
“Opening the oven!”
“Behind you with a knife!”
“Coming down the line with hot pan!”
It isn’t that you can’t see that someone is opening the oven in front of your bare calves (when its hot in the summer we role them up), but the vocalization of it helps to jog your senses and remind you of what is happening. Repetitive motion and actions can put you in a trance, and affect your speech and memory after a long night of working and repeating information back and forth.
Not only will you sense the intricacies of cooking food through your coworker, you will know them on an emotional level as well. Are they having a bad day? You will sense it, they cannot hide it from you, and neither could you from them. You will learn each others body language, and it will be difficult to hide anything from them. After a while it’s a bit like sharing esp with someone- just an interesting thing I’ve noticed about working in kitchens.