When I was in second year at uni I applied for and got a job as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant. It was 1993, I was then 18 and that would be my first paying job. The pay was $6 an hour and the hours were from 4:30pm – 10:30pm. If I got rostered on Fridays or Saturdays, it’d be from 4:30pm – 12:30pm.
The bosses were a husband and wife team from HK and they ran a tight ship. And I do mean tight. They were nice ppl when you get them away from the restaurant, but whilst working they were the devil’s spawn.
There’d be no meal breaks in between so that’d totally screw up my eating hours on the days that I’d work. But we were allowed to have coffee or tea so the trick that I did was to pour in at least a qtr of a cup of milk into my coffee, sometimes half to ease the hunger. And I would do that a lot throughout the night. So as you can imagine, not only are my eating hours screwed up I was also having too much caffeine which totally f**ked up my sleep. Why didn’t I just drink the milk by itself? I’m lactose intolerant – though I love the stuff I can’t have too much of it at once.
They had me doing everything that a typical waiter would do and more. I’d take out the garbage, mop and vacumm the floors and clean the toilets. This would be at the end of the shifts and by then I really couldn’t be arsed anymore. Not after running around like a headless chicken, keeping my cool with difficult customers and dealing with the husband who swored and yelled whenever things got busy (which was a lot). As for our meals before we go home, we’d only get some refried or reheated leftovers from the night that was. All up, it didn’t exactly make for an ideal work environment.
On top of that my grades suffered for that semester that I started working and my parents made it very clear that I will quit. So I did. Though I went back to work again when it was summer holidays, that year would be the only time that I would work there.
Not everything was bad though. The job brought me out of my shell as I was quite a shy person before. My Cantonese improved greatly and as with all hospitality jobs, I met quite a few nice ppl including the other wait staff. A while after I quit, I went back to eat and the boss lady asked me if I wanted to work again. I asked how much is the pay now, and she said “$8 an hour”. I smiled and said I will think about it. Which was a lie of course – I wasn’t going to be sucked in for further punishment. Not for a measely extra $2 an hour.