They’re considering a new restaurant idea. But there are a lot of grievances leftover from their previous restaurant attempt. It’s not a good starting point, but they don’t have the money to hire anyone so that they don’t have to bump heads. So they have to rely on each other and they both feel like they can’t.
In a way, it’s a business case study, but also an old relations problem.
So my mother is an excellent cook, and she’s a perfectionist and incessant worrier. When it comes to kitchen work, she’s very particular that things be done right, quickly, and consistently, and these are generally good things… except when it comes to working with other people. I was able to work with her because I had previous professional kitchen experience, but I think most other people have difficulty keeping up.
My dad spent most of his career in big companies, and he’s a pretty brainy person. He likes ideas, or thinking out loud, or conceiving of long term plans. He has an MBA, and always on some level wanted to run his own business. Traditionally that idea was as an IT consultant, but he’s pretty much just as excited about a restaurant.
My dad is not very good with hands-on stuff. He’s not terrible, but he has a head-in-the-clouds way of doing anything manual, which distracts him and slows him down. I don’t know if this is a common phenomenon but it happens to me sometimes too: you’re doing something which doesn’t require a lot of higher thought and so you do it while thinking of other things… which actually means you do it super slowly and not very well. This naturally brings him into head on collision with my mom.
And so their basic conflict is that she’s a skills person and he’s an intellect person and they don’t mix well. Previously in their other restaurant attempt they tried to stick to their respective areas: her in the kitchen, him doing service.
Objectively speaking, there’s more work in the kitchen than there is in service, especially in lower tier restaurants. If it’s not fine dining, it’s not too complicated. But since my dad feels like he can’t help my mom, because she yells at him most times he tries, then my mom is left with all the work.
My mom isn’t the healthiest person around. But while probably the best way to improve on that is to exercise and be active, she reacts by worrying and trying to be careful and take as few risks as possible… which arguably makes it worse. So she worries about her health, but still insists on doing these work things herself. In truth the work itself is probably less detrimental than the stress she puts herself through. Not to mention the feeling she has that she can’t really rely on anyone else.
My dad feels pretty slighted about it. He feels that if only she could better understand that while he may never reach her standard he can still help… things would work out.
The problem is that they’re both correct. My mom is very difficult to work with if you’re not doing at least most things right, and my dad is sometimes more of a hindrance in the kitchen than a help.
They also never argue well. They both tend to talk one sidedly, with their own things they want to get out, but they don’t really listen to each other. They also get defensive quickly, and get carried away with their points. They both fail to consider the other position effectively.
That’s a common thing. There’s the saying that one should “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes” but while that changes a point of view, it doesn’t change the mind that’s doing the viewing. So my mom thinks she knows how my dad thinks, and vice versa, but they’re both wrong.
They both also feel like they do more than the other considering their current predicament. The previous failure to empathize with each other only exasperates this problem.
All in all, reinforces my need to get a student job and support myself into getting a place for myself. It keeps me from being financially dependent, and keeps me away from… all this.