The weird workplace

As long as it's not a birthday suit; 'Rudolph unit, come in'; You're hot and you're cold; Shakespeare would be proud; Degrading recruitment

You're hot and you're cold
PARIS — The food might be sumptuous but, behind the scenes, the situation is much less dignified. A group of top chefs is calling on their peers to stamp out a culture of violence in the kitchens of France’s top restaurants, according to the Telegraph. It’s time to “lift the lid on the law of silence,” said Guillaume Gomez, head cook at the French presidential palace, citing physical violence, sexual harassment and hazing at some of the finest eateries. All great French cooks are being asked to stand up against violence by signing a manifesto called Touche Pas A Mon Commis (Hands Off My Range Chef). The wake-up call followed an incident earlier this year at a costly Paris restaurant where a station chef deliberately and repeatedly scalded his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon on the arm, according to gastronomy magazine Atabula. Soon, others reported slaps in the face with a wet fish, being stabbed in the calves with a kitchen knife, shin kickings along with scaldings and humiliations. At a university debate in Paris, most chefs agreed violence was unacceptable but emphasized the profession was not for the faint-hearted. “Yes, I have received a few kicks in the ass. Yes, I have taken a rack of lamb to the head,” said chef Christian Etchebest. “It was for my own good. We have a very tough job, you need mental strength.”

As long as it's not a birthday suit
WILLOUGHBY, NSW — Karl Stefanovic, co-host of a morning TV show in Australia, decided to wear the same suit for one year — and no one noticed. The presenter did so because he didn’t like the sexism faced by his female colleagues, including his co-host on Channel Nine’s Today program, Lisa Wilkinson, according to Fairfax Media. “Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear,” he said. “I’m judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour — on how I do my job, basically. Whereas women are quite often judged on what they’re wearing or how their hair is.” After revealing his year-long fashion faux pas, Stefanovic auctioned off the blue jacket and pants on ebay to raise money for White Ribbon, a campaign to end violence against women. “To be honest, I’m kinda going to miss it. It’s become like another member of the Today show team,” said his co-host. In the end, the well-worn suit raised $10,000.

'Rudolph unit, come in'
MOSCOW — In Russia’s Arctic regions, people often flee to remote spots to escape the long arm of the law. And your average snowmobile just isn’t up to the task. So the ministry of the interior is considering using herds of reindeer as transport for tracking down criminals, according to the Telegraph, citing Moscow’s Izvestiya newspaper. “Criminals go into hiding in the tundra and hard-to-reach places on their own reindeer sleds and officers don’t always have the means to follow them there,” said a police source. “The same problem arises with delivering suspects to the station.” The legal basis for police to use camels, mules and reindeer was confirmed by a 2012 interior ministry directive that stated how much food each beast should receive over a 24-hour period: A “service-reindeer” should get 0.5 kg of oats, 1 kg of hay, 1kg of bread made from mixed rye and wheat flour and 6 kg of lichen.

Shakespeare would be proud
ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND — Civilization is not yet dead. Two Scottish students disappointed to discover a local Tesco grocery store no longer stocked their favourite popcorn decided to pen their displeasure in a letter to the company containing a 14-line sonnet, according to the Scotsman: “I live in St. Andrews, thus the issue: No plans to restock, you said with a sigh; So answer me this or hand me a tissue: Have I butterkist my true love goodbye?” To their surprise, the grocery chain replied in kind: “Alas, dear ladies, your woes are continued; The popcorn in question has been discontinued,” wrote Frances Hickling of the chairman’s office. “However, dear ladies, please dry your tears; We’ll still sell your popcorn for many more years.” The 20-line poem directed the students to other locations selling the salty caramel popcorn and ended with the lines: “We know it’s been stressful, we know it’s been hard; But you can still buy your popcorn, here’s a £ 10 giftcard.”

Degrading recruitment
JAKARTA — Getting into a police force is no easy task. But for women in Indonesia, the process it not only difficult but also discriminatory and degrading, according to Human Rights Watch. Female applicants are subjected to “virginity tests” — a requirement listed on the official police recruitment website. “In addition to the medical and physical tests, women who want to be policewomen must also undergo virginity tests. So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.” And it’s a longstanding practice — one retired police officer said her class of female recruits in 1965 had to undergo the test. Police authorities in Jakarta need to immediately and unequivocally abolish the test and make certain all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it, said Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. If they don’t, the 400,000-officer police force could be challenged — it hopes to boost the number of policewomen from three per cent to five per cent.

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