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Book of Jobs Part 2

ON THE LINE

by Chris Auman

When my freshman year ended, I was able to get my refund for the tuition overpayment, so at the beginning of the summer of 1989, it was back to the sticks for three months of rest and relaxation. Having a little cash on hand, I was in no hurry to find another job in Galena. I was content to play Frisbee, drink beer and hang out, but with some “encouragement” from the Old Man I started what was a brief job search.

I figured I would avoid going back to the dish pit, so I started looking for a cooking job in town. I felt that my prep experience as a dishwasher could take me to the next culinary level. I applied at the historic DeSoto Hotel in downtown Galena (Lincoln once gave a speech from the balcony of the DeSoto, by the way). The Chef at the hotel must have called the Executive Chef at Eagle Ridge Inn for a reference because I never heard from the DeSoto Hotel but I got a call from old Phil Webb telling me he had heard that I had applied for work in town. Phil was small, thin, with an even thinner mustache and slicked back hair. He chain smoked Camel filterless cigarettes which was impressive to me at the time, for whatever reason. I felt like I was busted by a jealous girlfriend and forced to return to a bad relationship. I was offered a job as a line cook, covering for a guy who had been in a motorcycle accident. I could fill several pages with the kitchen exploits that occurred during that summer, including the night when a completely shit-faced Popeye (who was still gainfully employed) showed up for work one Sunday night only to continue drinking pitchers of beer he made me request from the bar for “beer-battered shrimp” which, incidentally, was not on the menu. It was an epic ordeal that saw Popeye quit several times only to be coaxed back by a desperate waitstaff.

Freezing, can't move at all

It was after nights like these while driving home listening to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning on my boom box, that I would get an almost uncontrollable urge to drive my Dodge Diplomat right off the road and into a ditch. This job was only for a three month stint, however, and by not driving off the road at high speed into a ditch, I took another step into the culinary life.

Line Cook >>


Originally published in RW#23, 2014

RW #23

 

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