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Stew Meet.
John Threatens to Undermine The Chef's Domain.

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Stew Meet . . .

Chef was just outside his office door when John rounded the corner. John reached into his coat pocket and began unloading little blue and white cardboard packets on to Chef's desk.

"What are those?", Chef asked.

"Earplugs. Two to a packet", John replied, "Just compress them by rolling them between your fingers and put them into the ears. The directions are printed on the packet. . . . ."

Chef shook his head, "There is something that spells 'A BAD DAY' when the Chief Engineer starts my morning by bringing earplugs for my crew!"

"Oh, and you too, Chef. . . . "

Chef cocked his head sideways, "AND WHY am I going to need earplugs?"

"Well, we are going to jackhammer your floor up this morning. The sewer line that runs under the kitchen is probably cracked or broken somewhere in the vicinity of the dishwasher. We need to jackhammer a hole in the concrete floor big enough to get a man under the slab so we can tunnel over to the sewer line and fix it."

"You are joking!"

"I wish I were".

Chef sat down and pressed his hands on his forehead, "Look. We're prepping for a big reception tonight; Four hundred four-course meals. Hors d'oeuvres for five hundred. Champagne fountain for three hundred. And now you tell me you are going to jackhammer up the floor . . . Absolutely Perfect!"

John nodded, "Sorry, Chef. Just doing what they tell me."


"Oh, You know already. This is the brainstorm of Todd, the General Manager, and the Executive Committee. Who else would make this stuff up?"

"Can't you stop this?", Chef asked.

John turned both palms upward, "I tried. I tried working the general employee safety angle. Then I stepped it up with a warning about possible employee hearing loss and potential lawsuits. That didn't fly so I threw the health department at them. Jackhammer debris, sewer work, raw poop on the kitchen floor. In a nutshell; crap and fine cuisine don't mix . But, the Exec Committee didn't budge."

The whites of Chef's eyes shined, "So, what are you telling me?"

"Chef, I have taken it as far as I can. I have given you your ear plugs. The jackhammer is ready to go. See you later..."

Chef followed John to the back door, "Where are you going? Aren't you going to oversee this project?"

John called back over his shoulder, "HECK NO! Nothing to oversee...I'll OVERSEE the hole after he jackhammers it! I AM OUTTA HERE! . . . BYE!"

(John thought he heard vague curse words following him as he dashed out the door.)

Ten minutes later, John swung past the back dock of the kitchen. Leroy, the jackhammer operator, was sitting on the back dock smoking a cigarette.

John sat down next to Leroy," Hey Leroy, What's going on?"

"The guy told me to stop."

"What guy?"

"The guy in the white coat and the dopey hat."

John smiled at that description. "What did he say?"

"He said for me sit here until he got back.":

"Did you see where he went?"

Leroy took a long pull on his cigarette. "Not sure, but I think he went that way", motioning towards the Administration Building.

John walked over to the Administration Building and asked Patty, the receptionist, if she had seen the Chef.

"Yes", Patty responded immediately, "He is in the GM's office right now. The door is closed so you can't go in. But, it sounds pretty, huh, heated in there. I don't think you would want to go in . . . Even if you could."

John winked, " Thanks, Patty"

John ambled over to the back dock to find Leroy working on a second cigarette. The first butt was at his feet.

John said, "Leroy, roll it up. This job is done for the time being. We are going to stop until we can get our act together. I'll pay you for your time to set up, take down as well as the time you sat here and smoked."


"Now get it rolled up . . . "

"OK, John!"

About twenty minutes later, an exhausted Chef walked up the back dock steps. "Where is the jackhammer guy?"

"I sent him home"

"But the GM has to advise the Exec Committee first . . . "

John shook his head, "Just a formality. It WILL happen. Trust me. You did good, Chef."

Chef smiled, "John, the way you talk right now, I feel like this whole thing was just a set-up."

John shrugged, "I just did what I was told to do. I couldn't beat the Committee but you did. Sorry you had to be in the middle of this . . ."

Chef sat down in his office chair, "No, I get it. Sometimes they have to experience the disasters they think up."

John reassured, "You did in fifteen minutes what I could not accomplish in two week's worth of phone calls, meetings and memos."

"I told Mister General Manager Todd that it was either me or the jackhammer." Chef held up his index finger, "One of us would be leaving...."

John leaned against the office door jam, "I hit them with every bit of logic I could: The potential for hearing injury. Dust in the food. Dust settling on the cookware and the tableware. The health issues surrounding open sewers in a food service environment. The insanity of asking people to serve food while men push wheelbarrows full of dirt past them down the serving line! None of that raised an eyebrow. They said there was no good time so now was just as bad as any other time."

"I told Todd this was madness and I would quit right now." Chef straightened his hat,." So now, after our meeting TODAY, we are going to reschedule the sewer work to be done after hours when the kitchen is closed."

John grinned, "Now THAT'S a novel idea! Wish I had thought of it!"

Chef made a glorious theatrical bow and announced with a flourish of a white glove, "If I can ever help you in any way again, John, feel free to call on me!"

John closed the delivery door behind him. He sat down on the top step of the delivery dock stairway, shook his head and began to laugh.



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