We are assigned to work at a restaurant/pub that is located right along the waterfront. Caroline and I are expected to serve both the patrons that dine in the restaurant, as well as the pub.. As well as the patio.. As well as the backyard. The day we start happens to be the same day that school is back in session so after a busy summer, the restaurant is expected to be comparatively quiet. Perfect.
We are given little to no instruction about the way things are done here. They have told all front of house staff to stay home. No one to watch or show us what to do. We are shown where the menus are, given the specials of the day and given brief instruction as to how to run the espresso machine. That is the end of our training.
I am told this is typical of european jobs. You are given the opportunity to work and you must prove yourself to be an independent and hard worker.
The general tone of the restaurant is laid back, pub food but cooked with quality local ingredients by well trained chefs making the menu rather pricey.
As I have mentioned before, both Caroline and I have worked in the restaurant industry for about five years.
We have worked in almost all areas from food prep, to hostess, to server etc.
We have worked in chipotle style fast food, fine dining, barbecue, juice bar.. But in all of the places we worked we were given (at the very least) a clear idea of what was expected of us. Maybe we were spoiled. I don’t know it was just different. We are not learning the ropes fast enough to anyone’s satisfaction. We are overwhelmed. Our host is annoyed with our capabilities. He asks us “You have actually worked in a restaurant before, right?”
We finally got into the groove of things. Finally. Granted we did have a bit of help in the form of our Romanian veteran server. (I’ll call her Mackenzie.
Mackenzie is “the shit” as we say in The States.
She showed us how to do things properly and efficiently, and (whether or not she means to be) she is also hilarious.
Work was fine. Again not super busy. Mackenzie took all the orders (and rang them all up) to our delight. I mostly stuck to dishes and table clearing, and Caroline helped Jeremy out in the kitchen.
Apparently once a month the pub next door has a bag pipe player come (and several patrons also took the liberty to bring along there own instruments) to play some classic Irish tunes.
There was an accordion player, a guitar player, a flute player etc…
It was awesome!
After our shift, we and the rest of the staff were able to mingle with the locals and have a few beverages.
I secretly wanted to come to Ireland to see people drink too much, play music I could probably only recognize from the Titanic, and do jigs in a pub. I thought that this was probably a stereotype and doubted it would come to fruition, but it did.
People do drink too much. They laugh loudly. And yes they know the seemingly random footwork to go along with the music. They really do.
Caroline and I both don’t usually enjoy Guinness but after seeing almost everyone only drink it, (And drink it like water) we decided to give it a try having half a pint each. And we enjoyed it! Really. Maybe it was the environment that made it alright, I can’t be sure.
Our lovely host Daniel was comically slurring-his-words intoxicated. And after the now typical roller-coaster-like ride to work, we were slightly worried about the same experience plus a sloshed driver. Luckily, he had already called Jolene to pick us up so all was well.
Today was a bad day.
As I mentioned before, restaurant training has been scattered and confusing. Before this did not matter as it was relatively slow, but today was busy.
We started the day off later than planned which was fine. Jolene had given us all the necessary materials to ride a bike (pump, helmet, locks, and key).
I am embarrassed to admit that I am not (at all) an experienced bike rider. I remember my mom buying me a bike and trying to teach me once, but I guess we gave up pretty quickly because I never did learn. So when trying to prepare the tires I accidentally let out all the air in the them. I couldn’t tell if the air pump was broken or if it was user error but either way… We went on a walk in the forest near by, once accidentally wandering onto a shooting range, and once a golf course. It was otherwise lovely.
As I said before when we did eventually arrive at the restaurant it was uncharacteristically busy. We did things in the same manner as we had been only to be repeatedly scolded and told that our ways were against the rules. Rules which we never knew existed. It was unorganized and exhausting.
We made it though way past our agreed upon hours and returned home to watch the Devil Wears Prada and over cook the meat in the fridge as we have both been vegetarians for thirteen years before this trip and therefore have no idea how to cook the food provided.
It is days like these where you really have to remind yourself of your goals or you might (for example) find yourself wondering why you left a seemingly miserable restaurant job in the states where you made at least $100 a night to do the same in another country for free.
But everything happens for a reason.
(at least that’s what my mother always told me)
So you snap on your yellow gloves and finish cleaning out the ungodly smelling clogged drains in the kitchen. You go home and try to discern how to cook black pudding (without reading the ingredients because God knows you don’t want to know what it consists of), and you say goodnight to the spider commune on your ceiling (hoping that they don’t think that just because you let them live that they should get any bright ideas about cuddling up with you in the night) because you came to Ireland for a reason. You were not happy or able to make concrete goals in your home environment. You needed a new perspective and you’re going to get one (dammit).
Sometimes life sucks.
(Or sometimes you might just feel like it does after a particularly bad day.)
Everyone in one way or another goes through the same cycles of ups and downs, I think.. (No matter what language you speak or what accent you speak it in.)
Sometimes (maybe even, at the risk of sounding like an optimist, most times) shitty things happen to make things you might otherwise take for granted seem that much more awesome.
You may not know for certain what those things are going to be, (I certainly can’t foresee them) but you have to trust that they will come.
Because if you don’t (for example) you might have spent money that could be used to pay off a severe debt to travel overseas for no reason.
And that would suck.
Oh My God.
That would suck.
Actually let’s not even think about it.
Let us all just go to sleep and wake up tomorrow and start fresh.
because we’re not quitters.
We are just semi-lost-souls searching for something that we know without a doubt is a necessity but we have no idea what IT is…
but we know IT exists.
(I say we because if you are still reading this, then I assume that you must be like me, relate to me, or are at the very least entertained by my disfunction.)
((That is if anyone is even reading this at all!))
so let’s find IT!
because I DID NOT just clean out a smelly grease trap in nowhere-Ireland to go home empty handed.
Till next time…