Yesterday, I worked my part-time job as a prep cook at a restaurant for the third time. If you know me in real life, you probably already know what restaurant I’m working at. If you don’t, just email me.
Well, let’s just say the first day was a shock. It was hard. And boring. I was very glad that I had already decided not to become a chef; I accepted this job to earn some money towards college and other things. But if I’d still thought that I wanted to be a chef, I would have been sadly disappointed to find out what it is really like in a restaurant’s kitchen.
I worked like a house-elf. Actually, I think my official job title at the restaurant might be house-elf. Shall I compare the two?
Prep cooks: Omar and Nevillegirl’s real name, which she is not writing here for paranoid reasons.
House-elves: Dobby, Winky, Kreacher, and more.
Prep cooks: Rather midgety with nerdy pink and black glasses, brown hair, and brown eyes.
House-elves: About knee-height compared to a human, with eyes the size of tennis balls and big flappy ears.
Prep cooks: They sometimes wander around confusedly, trying to find where to put the blue cheese dressing.
House-elves: “Dobby is explaining how house-elves talk, Sir. Dobby says that house-elves talk in the third person!”
Prep cooks: Black pants, a black/white/grey shirt, and black nonslip shoes. Bonus points if you wear white socks with your black shoes accidentally like I do, because everyone knows that just looks so cool.
House-elves: A filthy old pillowcase, unless you’re a free elf. Then you can wear children’s soccer shorts, a tea cosy, Ron’s ugly old maroon sweaters, 20+ hats (of Bartholomew Cubbins?), and, of course, socks. Which hopefully don’t match, because that’s boring.
Prep cooks: Prepare food to be used up on the line. This can include anything from cracking 120 eggs for scrambled eggs, peeling and slicing 40+ onions, making salad dressing, guacamole, or pancake batter, and more. Sometimes they also help with the dishwashing if business is slow or the washers are getting behind. And they have to mop and scrub the floors at the end of the day, something they discovered is done only on the day that they work.
House-elves: Clean all the things, as well as make dinner for 20 or more people at Grimmauld Place, iron Lucius Malfoy’s Death Eater robes, and possibly cleaning the chandelier that will later be dropped onto someone’s head. House-elves at Hogwarts have it a little easier; they cook for the staff and students and clean the dormitories.
Prep cooks: Sundays, 8 AM to close, which can be anywhere from 3 to 3:45 PM.
House-elves: All the time, pretty much. If Lucius Malfoy wants his manor dusted in the middle of the night, the house-elves would probably have to do that.
Prep cooks: A sandwich made by her mommy, Nevillegirl-style: bread, ham, and no condiments. At all. Also, some fruit, a soda, and whatever dessert looks yummiest from the dessert counter (see ‘Job perks’ above).
House-elves: Probably whatever they can scrounge out of the trash, if they work for a Wizarding family. If they’re at Hogwarts, they can probably eat whatever delicious treats they make for the students. And don’t forget the butterbeer!
Prep cooks: They get a 30-minute break every four hours, which is usually used for lunch.
House-elves: None at all if they belong to a Wizarding family! Hogwarts house-elves get one day off per month, although Dumbledore suggested weekends off.
Prep cooks: Mostly just the other prep cook who sings in funny voices to whatever’s playing on the radio.
House-elves: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Albus & Aberforth Dumbledore, Regulus Black, and more.
Prep cooks: Customers, if there’s a rush.
House-elves: Lord Voldemort, Lucius, Draco, and Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius Black*, assorted Death Eaters, and most of Wizardkind. *This only applies to certain house-elves.
Prep cooks: The kitchen of a local café, including the dishwashing, prep, and refrigerator/freezer areas.
House-elves: If they’re lucky, the Hogwarts kitchens. Otherwise, they work in the huge manors of the old Wizarding families, like the Malfoys and the Blacks.
Prep cooks: Working with Omar, who is ever so slightly clumsy. Prep cooks (and waitresses) might get soaked when Omar aims the hose up in the air and not down into the mop bucket. They might also get almost whacked on the head with a broom handle.
House-elves: They recieve death threats up to five times a day when they work for a Wizarding family. House-elves must also punish themselves if they say anything bad about their masters, forcing them to iron their ears, smash their fingers in drawers, bang their heads against a wall, and more.
Prep cooks: They should avoid slicing a small cut in their index finger with the cleaver.
House-elves: They should avoid loonies who throw these at chandelier-dropping house-elves.
Prep cooks: The 50%-off employee discount on anything in the restaurant! The brownies are really chocolatey and the lemon-poppy seed muffins are delicious! They also get to sit on the swirly stools up at the counter so that they won’t have to move from a table when customers come in.
House-elves: If they work in the Hogwarts kitchens, Dumbledore has given them permission to call him a ‘barmy old codger’ if they choose.
Prep cooks: Minimum wage, which is about $7.25 per hour.
House-elves: If they work for a Wizarding family, nothing. If they work at the Hogwarts kitchens, they get a Galleon a week (although Albus offered 10 Galleons a week).
Hmm. I’d say we have it about even. Yes, house-elves have been oppressed for centuries, but the floors that I have to clean are far more disgusting than anything Kreacher’s ever mopped up, I’m sure. Next Sunday, I just might show up wearing a pillowcase and slam my head against the wall if someone tells me that I’ve cut the carrots the wrong way.
On a random note: According to HPWiki, Dobby’s birthday is June 27th. Now why is it that I can find Dobby’s birthday, but not Dumbledore’s?! I don’t think J.K. Rowling even created one for him, besides that it’s August/September 1881, so I’m choosing to believe that he was born on September 22nd, the Birthday of Geniuses. Such as the writer of this blog.