Looking busy, the curse of restaurants

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The curse of "look busy," working in restaurants


An Irish kitchen, early 21st century —

One of the reasons that I don't like work is "the need to look busy," and my colleagues know what I mean.

The problem with looking busy when there's work to do is that looking busy is not effective. The problem with looking busy when there's no work to do is that it causes undue stress.

In a kitchen, there is always something to do, and it is important to be efficient. It is often important to work with great economy of motion — and to work hard.

But looking busy does not accomplish this.

There is really no time to stand around, much less to sit. There's more work to do. But sometimes, when the "rush" is over, it's time to slow down a bit. If a couple of workers are standing at ease after a bit of a slam, that ought to be okay. It is not, and that's why people smoke. It's the only time that it looks okay to stand in place. Or maybe even to sit, for long enough to finish that cigarette.

The problem I have personally with looking busy is that it makes me crazy inside. I can't relax. I mean, I can't even do my best work. Not that I'm brilliant in a kitchen. I'm not. Never for very long, anyway.

The gas* part of it is, I don't want to stand or sit around — not on the clock. When there is work to do, and I'm getting paid, I feel like working.

Then here comes the manager — klop klop in those hard-soled shoes — or the chef, looking to impose authority.... I have to look busy.


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