Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An inventory

the dappled sun striking the glazed platter 
the tang of lemon rind in the glass of water 
a basin full of vegetables to be shucked at the corner

i breathe to a slower pace
reeling in the habit to roll up my chef's sleeves
and turn the fire high under the skillet in the kitchen 

i have come to collect my things-
my spices & wok & knife, as i limp on my crutch, shoeless- 
it hurt when i was accused of being a malingerer-   

we are not made to work like machines
with barcodes on our wrists
with labels stamped on our faces at every shift - 

i hold on to my marrow -  
i am hardy as a sparrow
not an old shoe to be discarded, though i learned the hard way- 

just another inventory-






Posted for Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Word List by Karin Gustafson
and Poetry Jam - Story of a shoe 

Based on the recent experience of my second son, who is training to be a chef.   After fracturing his ankle, his new employer gave him the walking papers, disregarding his initial good work record.   He was off for almost two weeks, but since he was on probation, he was summarily dismissed.   He is currently working in another restaurant and set to study (again) in a chef school by September.   

picture from:  tumbler.com

44 comments:

  1. Passion shows through the ordinary inventory of what belongs to the narrator and the tasks of picking itup, walking on crutches, recognizing the inventory of the employer, and reaffirming the self. A cook is not an ordinary employee, but an artist whose signature becomes an asset of the institution. I suspect the one that couldn't handle an ambulatory disability truly missed out.

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    1. Yes, the boss was just concerned with the profit and recovering his investment. I told my son, at least you know his real character, and that you are not meant to work and share your talent with that business.

      He cooks with a passion, something I do with my poetry. I am just thankful he is over the disappointment, and learning to move on. Thanks for the thoughtful comments Susan ~

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  2. My heart goes out to your son ... I have a chef son who after almost thirty years is ready for a new direction. It's hard work as I'm sure your son already knows. GREAT poem Grace.

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    1. Thank you Helen ~ My son is just starting on his journey, after discovering that he likes this kind of career ~ Still it is what he likes to do after all ~

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  3. You did a good job with the shoe prompt--thanks for posting as usual. Hard to see our kids go through such things. Our sone recently got quite ill two weeks after beginning his management training program for a large retailer. He was out a month, but fortunately they took him back though he had to start the training over. They do have to learn how to adjust to the circumstances and go on--so hard as a parent to watch though. By the way, the photo of the shoe you used is somehow kind of disturbing.

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    1. I just got it from the internet after searching for an old discarded shoe ~

      We all felt bad after the way he was treated, when he was such an enthusiastic and hard working employee. But he is still lucky, as he is now employed in a bigger restaurant with better training. Thanks for the challenging prompt Peggy ~

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  4. ah but we are treated like machines and the parts interchangeable...sad on what happened to you son...bah...guess it is better to know this now than later...hard to work under that kind of attitude...

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    1. Parts interchangeable, sadly true ~

      Yes perhaps it is better this way ~ Thanks Brian ~

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  5. Ah - your poor son - so unfair. One of my daughters is also interested in cooking. I especially liked the beginning of this - the scene set in a very easy to imagine way. k.

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    1. Thank you K~ This is actually the third career choice for him, but he loves the creative process of whipping up the dish~ Finally, he is going back to school to formally get his chef's seal ~

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  6. This is so beautifully written. Just lovely. But I am discouraged that your son was let go for something he couldnt help. Grrrrrr. He will love chef school! Be ready for some great meals:)

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    1. Yes, we are benefitting already from his food creations, ha ~ Thanks Sherry ~

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  7. Oh, I know how your son felt. It happened to me, after years on the job, I was fired for being sick. Then there was the stress of an arbitration hearing, handled by my union for the most part, but still stressful for me. I got the job back, but by then the stress had caused ulcerative colitis. Still, we changed the BC labor laws, so others are benefiting, and I'll always be glad about that.
    K

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    1. I am sorry this happened to you Kay ~ I am glad that the labor laws have changed but when you are on probationary period, you can be let go at anytime. Thanks for the visit ~

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  8. How sad that the food services see their employees as expendable and replaceable, rather than planning for the long term in loyal service.

    Just a note: malinger is a verb; I think you mean malingerer in the third stanza.

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    1. Thanks Kerry, a new word for me ~ Smiles ~

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  9. Good that he collected his things and moved on! So true that humans are not machines and should not be treated as such. Nor are they old shoes to be discarded. Glad that he now works for a large restaurant, and it sounds as if he is happier there! I do hope your ankle is getting better every day, Grace.

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    1. I hope to go back to work tomorrow Mary ~ Thank you for the visit and concern ~

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  10. Treated like crap across the map, in and out they switch whenever there is a glitch.

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    1. I hate it when this happens Pat ~

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  11. Glad to know your son got another job! Hopefully this will be a better working environment.

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  12. it hurt when i was accused of being a malingerer- Excellent and heart breaking words and lines. Really feel the venom. Praying that grace will cover and heal the wounds. Alan

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  13. How horrible he was let go like that... b/c of an injury? I say he's better off now!

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  14. What a shame that some people don't recognize the benefits of building trust with their employees. Hope his new employers are much better!

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  15. Grace, please tell your son not to let the jerks get him down. (I've been there.) It's so typical of the restaurant business, just like show business. One injury and you're out, even if you've been there a long while...

    This is an homage to slow cooking, as well as a sneaky indictment of the "bar-coding" of us all by Big Industry, which wants us to defrost TV dinners every night. Thanks for this; amazing. Amy

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  16. Such rituals and ordinary becomes sacred motion in your description ~ Bravo friend ! Debbie

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  17. Yes - it is so hard to see injustice served to our children, but nice when you see they can handle it! A good chef is an artist, and I hope he is successful with this passion in that he can make a good living. Not all artists are able to do this.

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    1. ...the fourth paragraph tickled me as it is SUCH an artist statement!

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  18. wow this is quite a romp, Grace, just love how it gallops and the rhymes keep it singing... the story of your son, too much to bear! well, he doesn't want to bind his destiny to such short-sighted folk anyway. love this!

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  19. Well written and not surprising you are angry at the exploitation of young workers.
    If you hurt our children we feel it deeper.

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  20. Grace, I hope your son's ankle heals fast and that he will soon be back in school. Too bad that stopped along with his job.

    You stated nicely a truth that hurts. We are expendable.
    ..

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  21. The problem with all those people is they're all aiming just for money, they dont realize the consequences of running this rat race.
    Your son will make it bigger than those restraunt people, and one day his restraunt will show them what they deserve. Hope he heals sooner.

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  22. His next meal cooked by his hands will reflect your wonderful poetry. It will sate the heart

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  24. Being let go when you're young is especially painful because it is new, but you learn and you grow on. The opening actually made me think of a post I read on what to do when feeling overwhelmed- do what you know, the simple things. Life can be overwhelming and lately, my own journey has me exploring minimalism. There is beauty in simplicity.

    Well wishes to your son. Thank you for a beautiful poem.

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  25. Fuck 'em...the best revenge is to serve up better meals than the dumb ass who fired him ever could, may his creativity flourish...yeah they tried to barcode me once...now there are seven people walking around with the code thay wanted to put on, I wasn't having any of that mess.

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  26. "we are not made to work like machines
    with barcodes on our wrists"

    Powerful stuff my friend.

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  27. You tell the tale well, Heaven, and the rhyming and tercets work excellently to underline the message here--yes, we work too hard, too much, for too little, too often in this life. Hope your son finds a better employer.

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  28. "we are not made to work like machines
    with barcodes on our wrists"

    I love that.

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  29. YOUR poem painted the view so well...
    I so hope your son is treated, as he should be with respect n' kindness~
    It wasn't the right job and he found out an early lesson....
    Sorry and hope he is better!

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  30. An inventory of experiences is not to be treated as a finished stock but a work in progress which is piled up again only to be rich, finally. It sso true that ppl. disregard that fact and we often tend to be misjudged. Your son will fare well. Best wishes to him!

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  31. Grace, so sorry to hear about your son's injury and unfair treatment--he will do well; and you wrote a beautiful poem! that first few lines really had my mouth watering--and the ending, excellent take on the prompt :-)

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  32. i hold on to my marrow - this is my favorite line...my youngest son who is 9 wants to be a chef when he grows up! he just wrote a report at school on Bobby Flay - his Hero :). Wishing your baby the best of luck and success and healing.

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