In a Chinese restaurant

August 9, 2005 12:12 PM

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.

15 thoughts on “In a Chinese restaurant

  1. Anonymous

    Well, but after all, it was a worthwhile experience right?

    I had similar experience (i.e working at restaurant), but my boss lady was nice and her two daughters studied at uwa as well, so I used to look forward to work as we always go out after work (on weekends anyway). It was fun and I missed those good old days. (Oh, and good pay too, i think got $10 an hour, I mean, not bad for chinese restaurant right?)

  2. mooiness

    jjj: yes socialising with other staff is always fun. But hey you got paid $10/hr – that’s *way* more than me.

    miss L: it symbolises “fook-toh” – literally prosperity-upside-down which sounds like prosperity-is-here in Cantonese. Next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, you’d see what I mean. 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    I read your comment and found that mine was worse! 🙂 In High School, I found a job at this fremantle deli (the owner was a Malaysian) and she paid me like $50 for the day. I go in at 7:30am to setup the tables and go home around 4pm! I endured it for 2 months! Even my parking fee costs a few bucks plus fuel. BTW, after smelling whole days worth of frying I don’t even find myself hungry during lunch time!


  4. mooiness

    Manila: holy smokes dude, you got taken advantage of! And btw, why you must bring up the fact that he was a Malaysian huh????? Hahahahah….. but you know what, in general Chinese bosses are terrible lah but I’d like to think I was a good one at my restaurant.

  5. Junyi

    yeah, the asian eateries here are really exploitative. my fren washed dishes and other misc chores for like 11 bucks an hour. if u factor in the inflation over 12 years, it’s probably about the same. mate, u attended uni in perth?

  6. CW

    How can they get away with paying that little, and not even give you a meal break?? Aiya!!!

    Loved the upside down fu! I love all the puns on words the Chinese have! (Don’t worry I will spare you an essay on Puns in Chinese in your comments 😛 )

  7. ~*Starryluvly*~

    erk – sounds like a shit ass job. But I guess after working in a place like that, you gain more sympathy for service staff and are more appreciatve of good service?

    lactose intolerant? you could drink soy milk… or do you not like it?

  8. mooiness

    junyi: yeah man, UWA, class of 96.

    cw: hahahah….you know what, that’s an idea for a good post right there. I’m sure you will come up with something down the line. Especially seeing as how you love languages so much. 🙂

    starry: yeah I definitely do. Which is why I sometimes get annoyed when my family members get impatient or harass the wait staff unnecessarily. I’d say, “Be patient, they can’t do anything about it.” Soy milk???? Hello, if they were “tight” what makes you think they’d make a special effort to have soy milk for me? And I’m sure as hell am not gonna *buy* it out of my own money! I got paid too little as it is. 😛 And yeah, me no like soy milk in my coffee. Tastes funny.

  9. ~*Starryluvly*~

    sorry for some weird reason I thought you were making the coffee at home. tway pu qi? *bimbo moment – help!*

    Didn’t they sell like yeo’s soyabean drink? I know that its just as filling as milk is for me. Or did they ban that from the staff?


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