Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Crazy Journey of a Movie Star

Mariam Visited

Mwhahaha!! I have been the subject of Mariam's documentary of an American studying in Europe since Thursday. We parted yesterday. It was lots of fun actually! Maybe I just like attention on me hehehehe!! She came to my kitchen classes and followed me and others around while we cooked, or got yelled at. She interviewed my friends and other americans. I thought it was quite funny how people were suddenly so talkative and friendly when there was a pretty woman walking around with a camera! I actually learned a little something about my feelings toward the US after this. I guess I remembered what I appreciate about the country. I am always noticing and talking about what I don't like, or how bad the media os and the food industry, but I seem to forget the other stuff. Especially when my friend Katharina opened up about how she loves the down to earth nature of Americans. I do to. I really do. It does seem that in certain ways Americans are more relaxed about living as people, and not being ashamed of being human. I also had a confrontation with a chef and noted how very few cultures at my school would have had this confrontation, but my being American definitely had something to do with it. It is described below. After all of the school stuff we went to Crans-Montana and walked around enjoying the BEAUTIFUL day! It was warm and so sunny, a bit too sunny for the camera. Then we went to Geneva and I got my Starbucks fix along with some Kenyan and Sumatran coffee for Tahir's place. We filmed by the lake and everywhere else we went. THEN we went and had a little adventure trying to find an Indian restaurant hahahha!! We didn't find it, but that is alright because we did end up eating at one and it was really nice!! I enjoyed dinner thoroughly. I met Said and he is so funny and nice too! I'm sure I will be seeing him again since he is so close by. After visiting Geneva, I want to go back and properly explore it because I realized how little of it I know!

The Confrontation

I also had a bit if a tif or row with one of the chefs. This is how it played out: It was a VERY slow dinner on Friday and all the students were doing nothing. Sometimes one of us would check on the buffets to see if anyone needed anything. I did at the beginning and then just fell into an irresponsible neglect of my duties by chatting. I just happened to be doing what all the others were doing in front of Steiner's, the chef, line of sight. He came out of his office looking really angry and, VERY aggressively told me off for chatting for a half an hour. Saying I haven't been doing anything except talking away (at this point he sticks his hand in my face making a talking movement, just to make his point clear) and to go do my job! I agree that I should have been walking around and checking the buffets, even though it was slow. I went over to one that needed some rice, so I as about to go get some rice then he grabbed my elbow and briskly walked away. Trying to get my attention to probably take care of another buffet. I, not so wisely, let slip "Don't touch me" since he had been so coarse earlier and could have easily gotten my attention by simply saying, "Lia, pasta station" instead of grabbing my elbow and walking angrily toward the station. I walked to get the rice from the kitchen and the chef followed me REALLLLYYY angry now, and yelled "What did you say to me?" I replied in a straight tone because now I realized that this was going to become an issue in a few seconds and I needed to stay calm, "I said 'don't touch me.'" "COME INTO MY OFFICE NOW!!!" He was rather angry. I went to his office with him and he was about 1 inch away from my face clearly trying to intimidate me. He proceeded in a constant angry yell to ask me why I had said what I said, which I explained by saying that I felt he could have simply asked me to do something or use my name. (After ruminating about it later I realized that I reacted that way because of the aggressive way he was dealing with my talking when I should have been working.) I then realized that even though I could have prevented this confrontation by not saying "don't touch me" I am pretty sure that I actually have the right to say that. I am not claiming sexual harrassment or anything, but I thought that mentioning the previous sentence was a logical point that would end this ordeal. I did state that I believed I had the right to say that and technically he could not touch me. He then yelled that he could touch me where ever he wanted to as long as it was not my breasts or butt and that he could even shake my head if he wanted to and that would be okay. I calmly responded that I didn't think that that would be okay. He then went on to claim that I play with words, am very arrogant, talk to people like they are stupid but he won't allow that with him. I did not argue these points as they are subjective and I was not very offended by his statements, though I think he wanted me to be. In the end he told me to just leave and go home and get out of the kitchen. I said okay and left the office. He then said "Stupid idiot!" So then I turned around because I thought this was a rather inappropriate and disrespectful thing to say and do, and I asked him "Did you just call me a stupid idiot?" He said that no, he was saying it to the commisary chef, who was not even near by and it seemed like an strange thought to occur to him at that point. I could not argue his claim, but did not necessarily believe that it was, in fact, directed toward the Commisary chef. I then went to collect my knives and started to head out of the kitchen and was pursued, once again, by Steiner who resumed yelling at me for being arrogant and talking to him like an idiot. I stated that I simply felt that I was not in error for the way I reacted. He then said that I play with words. I don't know what that means exactly. Stockli, the pastry chef, intervened and separated us. He ended the whole thing in a very good and professional way. He told Steiner to go calm down in the office, Steiner kept saying no, he didn't need to and that Stockli should stay out of this. Eventually Steiner did leave, and Stockli told me that I need to watch how I deal with the chefs because I am starting to get a reputation. He also let me know that I would be getting points off and potentially other consequences associated with this. I asked him why and he told me "for having an attitude with a chef." I accepted this and asked if I was to continue working or if I should still go home. He told me that it was between Steiner and me, so I proceeded to leave. After thinking more about it I did think that "attitude with a chef" is a legitimate thing to have points taken off for, but I did not necessarily see how I had an attitude with Steiner especially when I was being screamed at by him. I never spoke back to him or argued, only calmly and logically tried to explain my reasons for reacting how I did. I also found it not to be a logical rule when the chef is acting unprofessionally and giving the student more than a fair serving of attitude.

How I Dealt

I sent Taylor, the director, and Rachny, the F&B director, a professionalized version of this in E-mail form stating that I want this to be resolved before it can escalate. I also skipped my weekend duty because I honestly did not feel comfortable or welcome in the kitchen. I also wanted to spend some time to write a good E-mail.

YAH, that is the excitement going on right now. I will leave it at that.

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