Tired-of-Being-Youngest is attending culinary school, which I assure you is just as delicious as it sounds. I can’t wait until spring quarter, when she studies Baking and Pastries, and am sure that I will work off all of her homework assignments by some extra time in the garden.
One of the most amazing things about Tired’s culinary program, however, is the instructional staff, a group of dedicated, intense, aggressive men — yep, all men, just like the Lord of the Rings movies — who expect a lot of their students, but are willing to do their part and give generously of themselves as well.
I nearly fell out of the driver’s seat when Tired — who is literally tired these days, incidentally; aren’t you, after an entire day in the kitchen? And that’s not with 50 other passionately intense cooking types milling around with sharp knives — mentioned that the head of the department, a tall, imposing, scary looking man with beetling brows and an intrepid stare, stands in the financial aid line as an advocate for his students who are having trouble with the financial aid process, paperwork and system.
He must stand in that line a lot.
If I were one of those administrative clerics behind the desk, I would tremble at seeing the black mustachioed guy in the white chef’s jacket, looming over the poor huddled masses of insignificant studentry who have the effrontery to question anything I say or do, which is generally that a mistake has been made (probably by my office but I’ll never admit it), there’s nothing that can be done about it now, and it looks like you owe $800, next please.
(Oh, and by the way, if I’m sounding a little personal, you’ve got a good ear — College Girl, who unfortunately does not have a James-Bond-size-chef watching her back, owes that above amount after two people — a professor and a student financial aid employee, made some significant, but lamentably unable to be repaired except by the person who didn’t make them, errors. Let me amend that — it’s $880 — I forgot about the late fees.)
But back to the Knight in White — I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t walk away, head hanging in dejection, to chop celery in place of the student he just lost. This guy’s polite and courteous at the same time that he is insistent, forceful, immovable, and resolute. He uses his position and power to fight for the little guy (at universities and colleges that’s the student), and he considers it part of his day, and his job, to do so.
Sounds like a leader to me.
Years ago, I abandoned rational thought and voted for someone outside of the political party I normally preferred, for no other reason than because he was standing on the corner of a busy intersection, smiling and waving, looking young and exuberant and honest, his sheer genuineness exuding from his gawky, lanky frame.
And my gut instinct was right — he was a good man, out for the little guy, scrupulously honest to the point that, after 12 years of truly listening to his constituents, he left the public life, because he had a family that was more important to him than political gain.
Like the chef, he is a leader, and it’s no accident that he functions best outside of politics.
I don’t look to Washington — regardless of party — or our state capitol, for honesty, integrity, leadership, and the concern for the regular person, because that’s not what today’s system is set up to address. I’m a little person, a regular person, one of those student-types that the chef stands in line for, and I find true leaders not among the professional political class, but among my own kind, including, when it’s the right time and place, myself.
People: stand up for ourselves. While most of us are not in the position nor possess the resources to swing big things, we can all stand up for the little guy, speak out against wrongs, walk in the opposite direction of the crowd pushing against us. Thinking for ourselves and risking others’ criticism is the only way that we will survive as a nation of what we started as: independent, freedom-loving people.
By the way, if you’re an ordinary person when it comes to writing — not one of those grammar geeks — then check out Grammar Despair — Quick Simple Solutions to Problems Like, Do I Say Him and Me or He and I? my e-book for people who want to sound like they know their grammar rules, but really don’t want to study the stuff.
Culinary School? Wow, wish someone in my family would attend! And Professor Chef sounds like a wonderful man – a teacher, leader, advocate, authentically caring guy.
A culinary school student in the home is a great thing — already I have a series of frozen soups waiting to be consumed later in the month, because when the chef is home on weekends, she practices.
Professor Chef and his colleagues are indeed just that. We can definitely use more of these in the world.