Exploring New Cities

Brandon Boston
First time at Shake Shack

This week, I was lucky enough to spend the Easter Holiday with my younger brother.  The two of us haven’t seen each other much as of late, due to our college careers taking us to two completely different cities.  My brother attends Boston College while I attend the Universtiy of Washington.  While the trip was enjoyable for numerous reasons, I could not help but notice the drastic differences that exist between our respective cities.  Of course, that is to be expected with our two colleges being on opposite ends of the country.

Perhaps the most apparent difference between the two cities was the drivers.  Roads in Boston don’t exactly make sense in that they refuse to go straight.  Looking at the map of Boston reminded me a bit of those circular mazes we used to do in coloring books as kids.  The winding roads snake around the cobblestone city seemingly without rhyme or reason.  Because of the serpentine nature of the roads, cars cannot go as fast as they can in other cities I’ve visited, such as Seattle or Los Angeles.  Instead, the Boston driver is forced to rapidly decrease their speed at a moments notice, often coming shockingly close to other cars on the road.  Because most cars cannot pick up as much speed, driving is completely different than other cities.  For example, cars don’t yield.  Instead of waiting for all cars to pass when turning against a red light, drivers simply wait for an opening large enough to accommodate them.  Drivers who would traditionally have the right of way in other cities are forced to slow down rapidly to avoid colliding with the driver who should, by law, be yielding to other drivers.

By all means, I’m not saying this method of driving is necessarily bad.  I believe I went the entire trip without hearing a car honk once out of anger or desperation.  Drivers seemed well-adjusted to the aggressive merging and lane changes that occurred regularly.  However, while drivers did not seem bothered with the unusual way of driving, I did notice a good amount of cars with damage to either their front or rear bumpers.

The city of Boston screams history.  Buildings appear monolithic and ancient, most being constructed over a hundred years ago.  The roads have a colonial feel to them as well, some even utilizing patches of cobblestone as substitutes for speed bumps.  The stretch of land near Fenway marks a blend of the old and new Boston, with the muddy, green wall of Fenway sitting next to the modern skyscrapers that appear to be massive walls of windows and steel.

Bars and restaurants actually reminded me of Seattle.  Nightlife was vibrant early at night and dissipated quickly as the night grew colder.  Bartenders were friendly enough but remained somewhat aloof, as they do in Seattle.  Overall, the city of Boston seems to be where Seattle was twenty years ago.  They are beginning to renovate the city, adding more modern touches to it while continuing to preserve the rich history that drives tourism in that market.  While antiquated trains continue to mull their way around the city, certain modern amenities are clearly making their way into the flourishing city.

My brother is continuing to struggle with the drastic shift in weather that Boston provides to the Los Angeles native.  I experienced chilly 45 degree days and 30 some degree nights that are relatively normal in Seattle.  So when my brother described these days as the best he had seen in months, I felt a clear sense of gratitude for my new home city of Seattle.  Overall I feel that the city of Boston does not differ all that much from Seattle.  We both live in our own bubbles, each feeling that our respective coasts are the center of the country.  I’ve come to realize that most cities are going to have mostly similar dispositions and worldviews.  Most of us will be friendly when it suits us and aggressive when civility fails us.  But perhaps most importantly, cities are communities where countless people with little in common can share space and live with varying degrees of civility.

How to Start a Career in the Food Industry

I’ve been working in the food industry for more than three years now, and have seen first hand how easy it can be to find a good kitchen job. At the same time, there are mistakes that can be made if one is not aware of how the food industry operates.  Fortunately, it is much easier than you probably think to find a reliable kitchen job.

Kitchens have a notoriously high turnover rate, which is both good and bad, depending on your situation.  If your situation happens to be a young adult or teenager looking for kitchen jobs near you, a high turnover rate is unquestionably good.  The first step to getting a kitchen job is actually going to be taken online.  I suggest going to Youtube and learning how to cut a few vegetables before you start your job search.  You don’t have to have amazing speed or dexterity with the knife, but you won’t look like a fool either when the chef hands you an onion to see what you can do.

Once you have brushed up on your knife skills, and have some level of proficiency at it, the next step I’d take is casing out the restaurants you want to work for.  Don’t worry about job boards or websites just yet, as most kitchens are always hiring in some capacity.  While casing out your surroundings for restaurants you’d be willing to work at, consider a few factors first.  Working for a smaller business will almost definitely be a better experience than working in a large chain restaurant.  At a chain, things can get militaristic, and the number of applications can detract from your chance of landing the job.  Locally owned restaurants can have their own problems, but you will generally have less stringent guidelines at a locally owned restaurant.

Once you’ve put together your list of restaurants you want to work at, put some thought into what kind of kitchen job you want.  Do you want to be a server?  A cook? Or maybe you would rather be a barista at a local café.  Either way, the plan will remain the same.  Unfortunately, the food industry is a hierarchy, meaning in order to get to the top, or even the middle, you have to start from the bottom.  If you want to be a cook or even a chef, this means applying for dishwashing jobs.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  This first step to becoming a world-class chef could very well be washing dishes.  If you would rather be a server, try finding a bussing job.

The best way to apply for jobs in a kitchen is to do it in person.  Come into the restaurant between 2:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M., when business is usually slow, and ask to speak to the manager.  Have your resume ready and be prepared to come back if no one is available to talk to you.  Persistence is key when finding a kitchen job.

Once you have your entry-level job, either as a busser or dishwasher, put your head down and work.  I cannot stress enough how bad most dishwashers and bussers are.  Show your new employers that you aren’t afraid to work and that you’re reliable whenever issued a task.  Find things that need to be done and do them.  Don’t stand around when it’s slow; instead, show your boss that you can take the initiative and handle the ancillary tasks that no one else wants to handle.  Keep up the good work while also making it known that you want to move up and take on more responsibility.  When your new boss tries to teach you something, don’t tell him or her you already know that, or you were just thinking the same thing.  Listen to what they have to say and do it their way.  Chefs and General Managers are looking for employees who are willing to learn, so make sure that is the impression you are leaving.

By following these instructions, finding a kitchen job is an obtainable goal that can net you a solid job in the process.  One last piece of advice I have is to avoid culinary school, at least at first.  If your dream is to become a chef, going to Culinary School may seem like a given.  It’s not.  My current head chef has never attended culinary school and is by far the best chef I’ve worked under.  Culinary school can have valuable insights into cooking and creating new and exciting dishes.  However, it will also leave you without the necessary experience to work in a kitchen.  In my experience, my Head Chef would rather hire someone with kitchen experience than someone that just graduated Culinary School, simply because the cook fresh out of Culinary School will struggle to keep up with the pace of a busy restaurant.  After one year working in a kitchen, you will already be a more desirable employee than the culinary student.


I hope this article was helpful.  Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome.

Softly Against Her

Her breathing is a lullaby that keeps me awake. The shallow, rhythmic movement of her chest reminds me of the breathing miracle that God gave me personally. As I lay in bed, the sheets forming a cocoon for both of us to utilize, there is no other time I believe in God more. I believe in his grace, laying so softly against her, our bodies melting into the fabric.Fabric