Day 0: The Job Hunt
Three months until we move to Queenstown. Need to save some money for skis and ski-pass. Hmm – need a job.
Two hours later: have a job at local restaurant.
Day 1: Trial Shift
Unpaid, but need to impress to secure the job. Think back 10 years to when I was a waitress par excellence. I’ll show these people how to wait on tables! Take two glasses of sauv blanc to ladies lunching on table 50. Carry wine on tray held high, arrive at table, serve one glass elegantly to first lady, sweep other glass off the tray and onto the table where it smashes and soaks second lady. Apologise profusely, relocate ladies to dry table, fetch more wine, cloth to blot wine out of expensive leather jacket, and brush to sweep up evidence.
Manager doesn’t see a thing, I’m on the rota as of next week.
Day 2: Swept Off My Feet
Feet in agony. Spend all of week’s prospective wages on comfier shoes.
Discover that Sketchers don’t work in the wet. Slide across mopped bar floor and onto my arse. Feet and backside now both in agony.
Learn to avoid taking out cappuccinos. Their beautiful heads of frothy milk are held together by the power of surface tension alone. By the time I get them to the table, most of the milk is in the saucer.
Day 3: A Smashing Time
Loading coffee cups onto drawers behind bar. Discover that if you don’t support the drawer, it becomes front-heavy and tips onto floor. Seven broken coffee cups.
Kiwis don’t tip. I thought this was great when I was buying dinner, now I’m serving it I’m not so sure. At least I haven’t been asked to pay for breakages!
Day 4: Just Desserts
End of evening, realise I still have a tab on my note pad. Forgot to add Baked Alaska to customer’s bill. They’ve paid and left. Hide tab in trouser pocket.
The phone rings. It’s the customer. They’ve realised that they’ve eaten an unpaid-for pudding. Want to come in to settle account. Have to ‘fess up to duty manager. Receive further training on processing orders. Bloody honest Kiwis!
Broken glass count: 1
Day 5: Stacked Odds
Number of plates that can be stacked on one arm: five.
Number of knives dropped in the process: two.
Day 6: CSI Havelock
Reduce number of stacked plates to four, plus five ramekins (why serve sauce in ramekins?). Ramekin slides off plate and creates dramatic splatter pattern of tomato sauce across customer’s shoes and five square feet of restaurant floor. Duty Manager investigates crime scene.
Day 7: Smell the Coffee
Barista training. Highly complex process. “NZ serves best coffee in the world, far superior to burnt, bitter crap served in Europe”. I create cups of burnt, bitter European crap. All artistic talent fails me when trying to create pretty patterns in the milk foam. My coffee looks like it’s been tagged by a graffiti writer with Parkinson’s. Limited to producing coffee for kitchen staff only.
Broken glass count: 2
Day 8: Iechyd Da
Am in charge of a table of geriatric ladies on a coach tour up from Wellington. Try to avoid tripping over the walking sticks. Lady number 19 asks me in a lilting accent if she can have the lamb. We bond over our Welsh origins. She asks me if I watch that “Stacy and Gavin”. “I wont lie to you” I say, “I love it, I do!” Hugs and kisses at the end of the evening, I bid her “Nos da” and she tells me I’ve made her night. Still no tips in the tip jar!
Day 9: The Wedding
Wedding ceremony in restaurant garden, followed by champagne on the decking. At last, a high class event! Open first champagne bottle with a flourish. Open second champagne bottle with a pop. Cork rockets through hand, ricochets off the porch roof and hits one of the bridal party on the head. Offer the injured party a glass of bubbly. At least it wasn’t the bride!
Broken glass count: 3
Day 10: Invisible Service
Restaurant is hosting a public consultation re: new visitor centre. Staff to serve drinks and canapés throughout. Discover that the mayor of Hastings is here. She had offered me a job managing the local arts authority, I turned it down. Can’t let her see me brought so low. Spend the evening in hiding. Mayor leaves looking hungry. I eat the left over canapés – tasty as!
Day 11: Collision Course
Clearing plates from table on the decking. Small child runs out, making a beeline for the play area, runs straight into me, stacked plates at child’s head height. I struggle to retain the tottering pile, while the tot staggers around, mildly concussed. It wasn’t my fault!!
Day 12: Daily Grind
Load tray with salt and pepper grinders ready to re-set tables. One mill begins to wobble and they all tumble like ten pins. Loud crashing noises as they hit the wooden floor and roll off in all directions. Crawl around under tables and people’s feet to collect. Regroup the grinders and set off with salvaged dignity, only to drop them all again. I really need to replace this tray with a trolley!
Broken glass count: 4
So two weeks in post. Seven more to go. Will I last?!?