Day 223 - Jake (4th person I approached)
August 11, 2014 - Another late dinner, the last one before my friends return home to New York tomorrow. So, by choice, another evening of walking around at 11:00pm to meet a stranger. One stranger had to run for his bus. Another one wasn’t comfortable with his picture being taken. The third gentleman didn't want to talk about anything other than were he was from.
Jake was sitting waiting for a bus, and that can make for a very short conversation. He let me know that he was prepared to miss a bus if we were still chatting.
Jake was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario.
“I have two sisters, one older and one younger. I definitely had middle child syndrome. I acted out a bit as a kid and my mother would support me through it all. She always supported all of us kids, but I think in part because I was the only boy, and her baby boy at that. It meant I got away with a bit more,” he said.
“My sisters and I got along as kids, but it seems as we get older and now live further apart, we are getting closer. We’re closer now more than ever.” Jake’s mother always had dinner ready, and the family sat down and ate together every night.
“As I got older, say around thirteen or so, dinners together became less regular. We were all doing different things and out with friends. Dinner was always made, we just didn’t all eat together,” he said.
When he left high-school, Jake hadn’t quite enough credits to graduate.
“I started working in McDonalds and spent a year or so just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. All my life, ever since I can remember I wanted to become a police officer. I went to an adult education centre and took some courses to get the credits I needed to complete high school,” said Jake.
“I applied to college after getting that done. I had applied for Computer Programming, Culinary Management and Police Foundations. I went right into the Culinary Management program in London, Ontario. I knew it was the right thing as soon as I started,” he said. Jake completed the program in two years. A bus stopped and the people waiting got on. Jake continued chatting with me.
“I’ve worked in a few different places since finishing college. In hindsight I think I could have learned as much by working in restaurants and working my way up. I wouldn’t have sixteen thousand dollars in debt fro college either. I don’t regret going to college, it was worth it, but I could have learned through hands-on experience as well,” he said. After spending two years in college and two years working in London, Jake decided to move to the west coast of British Columbia (BC).
“A friend of mine had moved out here and as a cook, I felt that there wasn’t that much opportunity for me in Ontario. I had spent a lot of time in Toronto while growing up, and I didn’t want to live there. I came out here to the west coast and spent a month living with my friend in Chilliwack (BC). Within that month I found a job and a place to live here in Vancouver. Jake is now working in a high-end French restaurant.
“There are only two of us in the kitchen right now and the chef is overseeing everything. French food isn’t as popular in the summer because it tends to be heavy. In the winter we go to three kitchen staff. I want to go as far as I can with cooking. I’m learning a lot and really love what I’m doing,” he said.
When I had first started chatting with Jake and had asked him his name, he told me,
“My name is Jake. Or Jake the Snake. My friends call me ‘Snakes.’” Another bus pulled over to the bus stop, I asked him why his friends call him Snakes.
“Well, its the people I work with and friends that I’ve made through working in restaurants. There’s a wrestler by the name of Jake the Snake, and a couple of guys starting calling me that. Then it went to ‘Snakes.’ Now everyone I work with calls me that,” he said. I mentioned that if I were to write about that, more people might start calling him Snakes, and asked how he would feel about that. “Please do write about it. i think that would be cool if more people called me ‘Snakes!’” he said, smiling. I took his picture and thanked him for his time and willingness to chat. Jake had intentionally missed two busses in order to continue chatting. I thanked him for his generosity.
“Not a problem,” he said. “After cooking all day, I come alive at night. This is my time to enjoy.” #notastranger