There are a couple of positions I never want to hold in life.
One is a Parking Enforcement Officer. I’m amazed at people who can do this job. Think about it this way; your work involves carrying out a duty that pisses people off. No one ever wants to see you, and when you do show up, you cause people to panic, beg perfect strangers for loose change, or just simply flee your presence. This would have to create paranoia in an otherwise normal person. Last week, I got to my truck just as the meter maid was finishing up my parking violation, and when she handed me the orange envelope, she said, “Have a nice day.”
Have a nice day!?!
You just hand me a ticket and want me to have a nice day? Do they teach this in Parking Enforcement School, or do you come by it naturally?
Another job title I want to avoid is Expert. Unlike a Parking Enforcement Officer, an expert is sought after. Experts get called when problems need solving, or advice is sought, and this can make the expert feel really good. But the downside of being an expert is the pressure this creates for you.
If you aspire to the Office of Expert, your attention is placed on dispensing what you know rather than expanding your learning. This creates a demand on the ego of the Expert, who always feels like he must have an answer for everything in his field. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need that added burden.
Instead, I like the title of Student. I worked with university students for 18 years before opening the restaurant. What I love about the student culture is that they are the ones who still believe they can change their world. They don’t know enough yet to be hardened by cynicism and doubt. They will protest, speak out, campaign and believe they can do something about an issue that commands attention.
This is partly why I am shy about owning the title Chef. There is so much I do not know about all things culinary. I have no formal training. Most of what I operate out of is self-taught. In many ways I feel like I am playing catch up, trying to gain more and more understanding about this new path on which I have embarked.
I prefer the safety of this vantage point, however, because it forces me to learn, to ask questions, and to realize that I don’t know it all, and never will.