How many times have you heard that from some old grouchy been-there-done-that co-worker?
I have to admit to a certain amount of doing it myself, depending on the circumstances.
Back in my day, when I started on the fire department, the new guys were asked all kinds of questions. Some were meant to be funny, some were meant to be embarrassing, most were meant to help the guys get to know the new guy. We of course carry that tradition on to the present. I'm sure the guys that did it to me were carrying it on from the old guys that did it to them as well.
One of the most common questions asked, both then and now, is "Can you cook?" And of course there is no right answer. When I answered that I could cook, the next question was "Can you cook biscuits and gravy?"
*let me insert a little note to my gentle readers from outside of Texas and The South. Gravy is a staple. I don't mean that watery brown stuff you put over your roast. No, I'm talking about that great old Southern tradition of cream gravy. Creamy white/tan color, made with flour browned slightly in bacon drippings, or if you must in a bit of the oil left after frying your meal, then thickened with milk. Gravy in fact goes with everything. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast, Chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, for lunch or supper. Suffice to say that gravy has been a very important food around a firehouse in my part of the world.
Now I had to admit that while I could cook gravy, I had never made biscuits without looking at a recipe. And having said that, I know that every woman in the South is laughing at me because the recipe is sooooo simple. But, being able to cook gravy, and good gravy by the way, got me off the hook for that.
Now, fast forward to early 2008:
I am working at one of our "central" stations for a shift (one day). They have been assigned a new rookie, fresh from recruit school. It's his first day on duty. It's early, and the questions start "Where are you from? What did you do before you came here?"
Of course it's time to cook breakfast so he is told to cook. I ask "Can you cook biscuits?"
"Yes sir!" he says
Rookie runs to the store in our neighborhood, and comes back with eggs, bacon and 2 tubes of biscuits. Now, nobody in the department makes biscuits from scratch any more, except for special occasions. I've got no problem with "ready made". But to paraphrase one of my favorite southern comedians, Jerry Clower "they make them biscuits in cardboard tubes or sleeves, and the instructions say you are to WHOP! them on the counter to get the biscuits out."
I am scrambling eggs, when I look over and see that the rookie has the cardboard sleeve of biscuits, and is using, or trying to use, a can opener to get the end off.
I stare in amazement for a second, then without thinking yell at the top of my lungs "What the hell are you doing?!"
Rookie looks at me, the rest of the station comes running into the kitchen, laughter begins, and we now have an all new category of "stupid rookie". So now if you ever hear someone say that a person is "too dumb to open a can of biscuits", you know where it came from.
By the way, that can of biscuits, with the lid half way cut off has been saved, and is proudly displayed at the station. That particular rookie will be a paramedic one day as well.