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Friday, July 27, 2007

Living well is the best revenge.

Earlier this week, I found myself at a party for a friend that I knew from my last job. It was sort of a spur of the moment decision to go, I'd been invited by another friend from the restaurant, with whom I stay in touch quite regularly. After I decided to go, I had sudden second thoughts...would the chef be there? In the end, I summoned my courage and put on my cutest dress.

I am so glad I did. For one thing, the chef wasn't there, and neither was his ape-like second in command (story to follow). It turned out that everyone I wanted to see was there, and no one I didn't want to see! How very convenient for me. It was wonderful to see all my old friends, and even nicer to be able to answer people's question of "what do you do now?" with the best answer I've ever had. Let me just assure you, when people expect you to tell them you're floundering around in another restaurant job, it really kicks ass to be able to say, "I own my own business, I'm a chocolatier".

There was one thing that I couldn't help but notice about the whole night. First, I need to explain my philosophy when it comes to people from my past that I'd rather forget. Essentially, if I'd rather forget them, for the most part, I do. I don't mean that I go to great lengths to erase them from my history, or pretend that they don't exist. I just cease to give them any importance. I don't ask others about them, I don't refer to them unless it's necessary, and I don't think about aspects of our interactions. So, armed with that information, you can imagine how, after months of forgetting all about the ways of the "great and powerful chef", I was inundated with stories. Every person at the party had a chef story and none of them were good.

I can't deny that there was a tiny amount of satisfaction in knowing that I was right in my assessment of him, and there was a large measure of relief at not having to endure his antics. But really, a lot of me felt bad for him, and especially for his family. He is truly one of the most miserable, bitter people I've ever met. He hides it well, but when the "fit hits the shan", the massive chip on his shoulder threatens to crush anyone in his path.

First, the good things: He has a wife who seems to be genuinely kind and decent. His children are quite young, and I really don't know what it would be like to have him as a father. He's a man of thirty, but he behaves like a 2 year old. When things are going his way, he can be very pleasant and funny. He seems to have sincere concern for his employees and friends.... But when things don't go his way, he throws a tantrum. He'll yell and scream and pout, storming around the kitchen, searching for something else that may be slightly off, so the tantrum can begin anew. All that sincere concern flies out the window, and he'll throw you to the wolves or just insult you until you'd prefer the wolves to listening to his rants.

In the span of two weeks, he accused me of sexual harrassment (without ever asking me to defend myself), told me how valuable I was to the team (after I'd requested a transfer out of the kitchen and the HR director betrayed my request to keep that information private unless she had a new position for me), and then, when I tendered my resignation, accused me of slacking off, while I was working just as hard as I always had. I suppose it would be within my rights to find some way to get back at him. But I'd really just rather move on with my life, forget his name, and watch from afar as the kitchen falls down around his head.

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