Here is the second part of this story as I previously (tried) to start talking about my part-time job, and then got carried away about all the issues relating to the housing market and taxes.
I will do my very best to keep focused this time.
Going back just a little bit in time, when I first moved to Bristol, my first job was in a pub as a barmaid in the city centre. I worked countless hours earning minimum wage (£6.19/per hour at the time) but it was good fun and met a lot of people which helped to forget the fact that I was all alone in a foreign country and away from my family.
About six months later, I started working for an Insurance company during the day, but still my wages weren’t enough for rent, food, clothes and the occasional flight to go back to visit my family. So I got myself another job at a restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays evenings to help me top up my salary and get by.
I never asked for any type of benefits from the Government for the simple reason that I felt that some people had it far worse than me and if I was young, fit and healthy to work, why should I rely on the Government instead of myself? So I worked in a restaurant and only had Sundays to rest.
As my career progressed, I would still go to the restaurant but purely because of the people that worked there. The restaurant manager Piyush (an Indian guy) was absolutely amazing and we always had a blast at work. He is an incredible dude! Always with a huge smile in his face, with a friendly word if I was feeling down for some reason and he would always make me laugh. We became friends and remain so until today.
Apart from everyone else who was from Thailand – it was a Thai restaurant by the way, called Thai Edge that has since closed down and is now called Aluna – we were the only two “outsiders”. He is Indian, I’m Portuguese but everyone single one of the staff was lovely.
They would try to teach me speak Thai and because I can’t roll my tongue in the way they do, my words would come out in a weird accent and they would be in tears from laughing.
To be fair, I laughed when they tried to speak Portuguese too! All good banter!
At the end of our shifts, we would have dinner there and my stomach doesn’t tolerate spicy food. Every evening the Chef would ask me what I wanted for dinner and cook me a different meal from everyone else’s as they would ALL eat spicy. And when I mean spicy, I mean SPICY. They don’t mess about.
I learned that Thai people are warm individuals who value friendship and family and are appreciative of what they have. Most of the girls who worked there were at Uni and came from wealthy families. They didn’t need to work but out of principle they would.
They would be waitressing in a restaurant because they wanted to earn and spend their own money, not their parents. These are girls with Uni lectures and assignments to do in a foreign language. Hats off to them and I have to say, that’s good parenting right there.
Apart from the odd customer that would turn up inebriated and say a few words no one would quite understand, all customers were polite and friendly to us. I stayed there for nearly 2 years purely out the joy it would give me working with such bunch. I only ended up leaving as the restaurant closed doors and was eventually sold. Piyush moved to Birmingham and then to Manchester where he now lives.
As a result, I decided to stop working weekends and have some rest time. I had started a new relationship and felt that we could use with some quality time together as well. I confess I didn’t know what to do with myself for a while but ended up embracing the great delight of doing absolutely nothing and I loved it.
On the other hand, the desire of owning my own house started to get to me. I started to do the math and it would be absolutely impossible for me to save enough for the deposit relying solely on my current salary. It’s not a bad salary but it’s far from enough for amount I need.
So I decided to start looking for a second job again, but nothing would come up. Either was far away or the hours wouldn’t match what I was looking for; there was always something.
Until one day, me and the other half went for a meal at a pub close to town and saw a sign saying they were hiring. Spoke to the manager, went for a trial the next weekend and 2 hours later I was told that the job was mine. Ended up doing a 6 hour shift that same evening.
On my second day (Saturday, lunch time), the place was packed.
I won’t mentioned the place but this is not exactly like your local. It’s a bit of a posh place and a mixture of pub with restaurant. There’s an outside area with chairs and tables and the view and the place itself is lush. The staff is also lovely! I have been blessed in that regard. Manager, colleagues, everyone is lush and there’s a really good atmosphere within the staff.
So on my second shift I was serving a couple. As I said, the place was packed, I was on a fast pace and I didn’t sat down for 4 hours straight. Allow that to sink in. FOUR hours, non-stop. Almost running and always serving food, going back and forth.
So this couple rightly complained about their starters as they didn’t came out exactly as it should because of the cheese. I apologised, explained what happened (after speaking with the Chef who gave me a flash lesson on cheese so I could pass the information on – hey, the more you know) and offered to replace the starter with a new one and take that item off their bill. They were polite and said thank you but requested only for it to be taken out of the bill as the mains would be coming out shortly, so no point.
Shortly after serving their mains, rushed back again inside to pick up more food for other customers when I was stopped by the same guy who said his girlfriend’s food was cold. I was livid. Considering this place is a bit posh, I was expecting to deal with customers who are used to a certain level of service and for them to be a bit posh as well.
However, nothing prepared me to see him throw the plate with the food at the bar, cursing and shouting at me, saying that he had to give his burger to his girlfriend so she could eat something. I asked my manager to come and help me sort the situation as I’m not used to be cursed at, shouted at and I believe it’s unnecessary.
To my surprise, my manager spoke very calmly, picked up the plate, said he would be removing it from his bill and walked away. I swear I didn’t know what to do at that point! Do I stay here and continue to speak with the customer and apologise again or do I follow my manager?
Considering how rude he was and because I was in no mood to be cursed at again, I walked away and followed my manager all the way back to the kitchen, whilst watching him making an effort not to explode and not respond to a customer on the same tone.
He was sticking his fingers inside the chicken pie, looked at me and said “This is boiling. Feel it.” – I followed his lead and placed my fingers on the pie (bit gross).
And yes, it was boiling and considering it was a proper summer day in Bristol that day, it was close to impossible for the pie to be cold. I looked at him and shake my head not knowing what to say. He looked at me with his shoulders straight, a serious face but with the utmost integrity, looked at me and said “Sometimes, in this industry you simply can’t win.”
I couldn’t help of remember a part of the Maid in Manhattan movie with Jennifer Lopez (I’m a fan and yes I’ve seen that movie more than once that’s how I know this part. Don’t judge.) when Lionel (her manager) says to her: “To serve people takes dignity and intelligence. But remember, they are only people with money. And although we serve them, we are NOT their servants .”
This was a reality check for me and the ugly truth is that money doesn’t buy anyone matters.
Next time you go to a pub or a restaurant, remember to be respectful to the person who’s serving you. One of my colleagues is a French Science teacher who moved here only for a few months simply because he fancied a change. In September he will be going back teaching. Remember you are dealing with people who also have red blood running through their veins and have feelings and are made out of flesh and bones.
Tip your waiter or waitress. Not because you have to, but because it’s a sign of your personal appreciation for the service you just received; because people who earn minimum wage struggle and that can make a difference on their lives. Because you don’t know if the person standing right in front of you has their legs shaking from standing up so many hours and yet they make an effort to smile at you.
If you can’t afford to tip that’s ok. But at least be kind and respectful. That doesn’t cost you a penny. Just like the smile of your waiter isn’t being paid for. They smile because they want to. Remember that.