Orcas Island

Living in Seattle I had always heard about Orcas Island, people talked about going up for the weekend as if it was some west coast equivalent to going to the Hampton’s. In other words, I knew it was nice but clearly out of my price range, and besides when the hell do I get weekends off?

I had just gotten back from a stint in San Francisco and wasn’t sure where I was going. As always Craigslist was the there for me to flood with my resume and I did just that. 30 minutes later I got a call from a guy named *Darius. 15 minutes later I had the gig and was grateful that I hadn’t bothered to start unpacking, not that I ever really bother anymore. I called up my friends, most of whom hadn’t seen me since I left for Alaska 3 months prior to tell them we were going bowling/ another fun-filled going away party.

The next day I got up and jumped on a shuttle to Anacortes to catch a ferry to the Island with no clue about what I was getting into. I didn’t have time to look up the restaurant or do any research in regards to what I was getting into. It’s not like it ever really makes a difference since no matter what, I always find a way to find the strange.

I hate boats, more than I hate planes but given that it’s an island, I didn’t have much choice. Turns out that the state of Washington has a pretty extensive network of Ferries and that boat was by far the biggest I had ever been on. I still hated it but I made sure to high as fuck before I left. It’s Washington, no one cares.

Darius was waiting for me when I got off the boat. I took one look at the guy and knew he was legit. The first thing he says is that we’re going on a quick tour of the island so that he can give me the lay of the land and help me avoid some very basic mistakes that newcomers make. I was happy I had someone looking out for me since my goal was to lay low and save as much cash as possible. The restaurant was paying me well and giving me a small apartment but they also expected me to work a ton of overtime which was fine since it would keep me out of trouble.

Turns out that my Apartment was not only on the water but directly under the dining room. This ended up to be both a blessing and a curse (Ironically as I write this I’m living above the bar I work in). When I say that it was on the water, I mean that I could and did, piss from my balcony into the Pacific Ocean, much to the dismay of a few random tourists.

My first night was low key since they told me to enjoy the island and get settled. The first thing I did was get stoned and go find the local coffee shop.

My first impression? Too many white people who looked at me as if I was the very reason they had left Seattle for the weekend. It was like walking through a J. Crew catalog. This didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did them and I took some enjoyment in being the freak of the week. They could stare down their noses but damn if they had the balls to say something stupid. Not that I would have hit them but they didn’t know that.

The town of East Sound isn’t much more than a tourist trap to be honest. It get’s flooded with idiots during the warm months but from what I understand, it’s a ghost town during the winter. This means you more or less have three types of people, the locals who live there all year, the transients who work for the season and the tourons who pay everyone’s bills.  

I like to think of myself as a veteran transient since, at this point, I’m more used to living in situations like this than I am living any kind of “Normal” life. It’s been over a year since I’ve been on a lease.

The place that I worked was by far the busiest  Kitchen I have ever in my life seen. It was also one of the smallest Kitchens I’ve worked in with 4 guys crammed into a space that was built for 2. Most places I’ve worked we would go through 4-5 pans of bacon per day, this place we were cooking 25-30 every day, not to mention damn near 70 pounds of Cod for fish and chips and god knows how much Clam chowda. From the time we opened at 11:30 until we closed at 9, the place stayed slammed non-stop.

It’s the same thing I went through in Yellowstone. Most places, you know you’re going to get hit on the weekend but with this place, everyone is on vacation so every day is a Saturday. There was no downtime and my first week I worked 77 hours and have the time card to prove it. Thank God for the hour break I had every day so that I could get coffee and get stoned enough to handle things.

 

A typical moment at any time in here

Yes, I know what some of you might be thinking and if you have an issue with me being high in a Kitchen then don’t ever expect me to cook for you, ever. It works like this. I’m a stoner, not a pothead. Everything I do in the Kitchen is to enhance my ability to cook better. I smoke enough weed while at work to stay relaxed and focused so that the stress doesn’t get to me but I don’t get so high that I fuck up orders. This is also why, other than a random shot after a busy run, I don’t drink in the Kitchen. But weed, weed is a Godsend in the Kitchen.

I smoked a fuck ton of weed on the island and if you were in East Sound last summer between July and August and wondered why it smelled like grass, that was me.

The owner of the bar was cool, at first. When he found out that I was going to the recreational pot store and paying insane prices he handed me a quarter pound of weed. Look at the fucking photo!! The blade on that knife is 7 inches by the way.

Now, other than smoking a ton of weed, I tried to keep a pretty low profile while I was there which was hard given how much I stuck out. But in my defense, I had a sum total of 5 drinks then entire time I was there and didn’t try to fuck my waitstaff.

For me, this is low key.

I figured out real fast that on my days off, the only way for me to get any level of peace was to get the hell out of town. The ferry was a few miles away but it was all downhill. This meant I was able to skate despite knowing full and well that, if I crashed it was $10,000 to airlift me from the island. This is no joke, the locals have special insurance for this shit.

The ride, even on a 27 inch Nickel board was epic, some of the best I’ve been able to ride. I’d catch the ferry and go to Anacortes and check into a cheap hotel where I would smoke a ton of grass and only leave for coffee while binge writing. No hookers for me, I was getting work done.

The truth is that I hated the place and the food sucked not to mention the moral was low. The one common factor that kept the staff from walking out is that we were all making a shit ton of money.

Here’s the plot twist. I never saw this shit coming.

I went on one of my off-island benders and had a blast, even ended up going clamming for a few minutes with a nice family who let me take photos. I made sure to make it back in time for work and when I saw the Chef I knew I was fucked.

 

Digging for clams in Anacortes Washington at low tide.*Erin was a good guy, hardcore as hell and devoted to being a Chef but was still punk at heart. He was one of the few people there that had any sense at all and we would often stay late cleaning and listening to music after everyone else had gone home.

The ax had been dropped, Erin had gotten the call from the owner, I was being fired.

For what you ask? Here’s where things get interesting.

I got fired for smoking weed.

At first, I was told that someone saw me in the parking lot across the street. If this was the case, I would have been off the clock and out of uniform, thus they can kiss my ass. Then later I was told that it’s because I was smoking weed in the Apt downstairs. This is bullshit since I always sat on my patio and smoked and even then it was only late night long after the customers had left. I’m crazy but not stupid.

The irony is that, in the state of Washington, the only place that I’m legally allowed to smoke weed is in my Apt. So either I was off property and the only people who have the right to say anything are guys with badges and guns but most cops wouldn’t waste their time with me. Or I was obeying the law and smoking dope inside my apartment that this asshole not only sold me but grew himself?

 

The other “reason” I was fired, and Erin knew it was bullshit, was that I had apparently been telling people that I was The Chef. Now, you need to understand that this was only a few months after my old man had passed and I had zero interest in being The Chef fucking anywhere, damn sure not at some tourist trap serving boil in bag soup to droves of morons and their spawn. At the same time, as much as I hate it at times, I am still very much a Chef regardless of whatever bullshit title I might clock in as. Honestly, titles have never meant much anyway. Erin and I just shook our heads, had a smoke and wished each other the best of luck.

Yes, I was pissed, still kind of am if you can’t tell. Okay, whatever, I got fired, it’s not the first time so that’s not the issue. The issue was that it was over two completely bullshit reasons and the owner, the guy who made the call and had the problem with me, was too much of a bitch to come tell me. I’m pissed that he made the Chef pull the trigger and fucked him by letting me go. It’s not like we had enough staff with me there.

Want to know the real reason I got fired? You know you do…..

I shared a wall with a small studio apartment that was vacant when I first moved in. But not for long. As luck would have it, the place got rented by some fat white yuppie in his mid 40’s. No big deal. What is a big deal is when I have to listen to him fuck some bimbo in the middle of the night while James Taylor played in the background. I handled this situation as expected, with the Wu-Tang Clan blasting to drown out the moans and a blunt (outside on the patio, late night) to drown out the images in my mind.

I knew what the guy looked like but the first time I saw him in Public with the girl, I couldn’t help it, I was high and started laughing at the two of them as we passed on Main Street one morning. This how I got fired, they called the landlord, the landlord called my boss and my boss caved like a bitch and tried to come up with an excuse that was such bullshit that he couldn’t say it to my face.

Honestly, I was laughing about it then and am still laughing about it now. As I said, I’ve been fired before, it wasn’t the end of the world. My biggest aggravation was that I had just come back from the mainland, if they had fired me two days prior it would have saved me a few bucks on hotels but whatever.

The flip side to this is that I’ve gotten away with doing a lot of shit that won’t get published until I’ve passed away and no one gave a fuck. At this point, I’m used to living with the fact that as long as I work for other people, I can be fired for any or no reason at all at any time. I know that even when I do play by the rules and behave I can still get shafted but fuck it, whatever……

As always I packed my gear and was gone in a few hours. Apparently, by saying “Goodbye” to my staff and telling them why I got fired, I was talking shit but again, fuck it, whatever……

 

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