Nasty nasty

By Harriet Rubin February 27, 2009

Soft power, smart power, pigeon power….

Kitchen Bitch is slang for prep chef, or Le Pigeon in French—the lowest ranking member of the kitchen brigade. Chef Gabe Rucker, 28, named his fine and bold East Burnside restaurant Le Pigeon, because he so loves eating pigeons, he had them tattooed on his wrist. And when it came time to name his first restaurant….well, it was obvious. The name, when you get the joke, suggests a secret avenue to power.

Does anyone not have a kitchen bitch job in their past or present? Not lowly jobs, but submissive jobs: when you have to do the nasty work and do it with a smile. Then you too are a pigeon. Being a Pigeon and loving the dirty job has its own erotic nature and power. Think of Genet’s thief. A thief relieves the wealthy of their fixation on valuables, reorders the world of property like a little god. The philosopher Hegel says that in the master/slave relationship, there are no masters without slaves, so slaves are actually every bit as powerful as masters.

Ever had a nasty job you loved? When I was a 16 year old grill girl, I loved making hot dogs. I was not even on the totem pole as far as the restaurant was concerned. Everybody yelled at me. But when you’re not too caught up in ambition, you never feel bad if things go very wrong. And what goes right: the job of grill girl was so small and insignificant that the thrill was giving people exactly what they wanted: meat in a bun. I was the Madonna of the hot dogs. I’ve rarely had the thrill of work since I retired from being a Pigeon.

Submissiveness is a good thing in an ambitious person. It’s one of the most powerful counterintuitive lessons of power. I’ve seen so many people get ahead because they acted like somebody’s baby brother, cute and cuddly and willing to do anything for a quarter.

What were your Pigeon jobs?

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