You used to be a happy person. You woke up every day full of vitality, ready to take on the world. Then, somewhere in your mid to late teens, you realised your parents’ pocket money was no longer sufficient for fueling your underage drinking habit, so you decided to jump on board with capitalism and get a job. Being an unskilled, inexperienced teenager, you only had a few options open to you: one of them was hospitality. You used to be a happy person.
Now, years later, you’re still toiling away at a café, waiting for a job relevant to your degree to miraculously fall out of the ether and into your reach. Your shoulders ache relentlessly from hours spent hunched over the coffee machine, and the rings around your eyes seem to get darker by the second, but a job’s a job and your online shopping addiction is too far gone to quit now. So you spend your days taking orders, waiting tables and psychoanalysing the different types of people who, often unwittingly, make your life that little bit harder.
There’s the group of 30-odd Lycra clad Tour de France rejects who pile in unannounced during peak coffee rush, each with an order more elaborate than the last. The churlish old lady who insists her flat white be served in a latte glass, because she somehow believes it’s better value for money. The woman who feels personally victimised because you aren’t accommodating enough of her gluten-free, dairy-free, raw paleo macrohorseshit specific diet.
There’s the man who is offended at the bill, despite the ample opportunity he had to peruse the prices before ordering. The private girls’ school alumni who sit and bitch about the recent weight-gain of their daughters’ friends ¬— because marrying young to highly paid lawyers isn’t conducive to growing up. The 31-year-old “I never moved out of home and can’t fry an egg” creeper, who doesn’t seem to grasp that being polite is part of your job, and no, he can’t find you on Facebook.
The young mums who let their little brats run rampant amongst the tables, seemingly unaware of the ramifications that arise when a small child bumps into a person carrying a scalding hot coffee. These same women are responsible for a litany of offences, including bringing mashed up sludge for their one-year-olds to artistically smear all over the available high chairs. And that’s just the customers.
Behind “ally” lines there are tight-arse business owners who have managed to acquire themselves three waterfront restaurants, yet refuse to throw their staff a decent Christmas party. There are power-hungry managers who use every opportunity to assert their status as The Alpha, because the only way they can find solace in their career choice is by belittling those around them. There are seedy kitchen staff who take an unsavoury liking to your (insert body part here) and exploit the fact that you can’t get away. And of course, there’s always one fellow front-of-house pawn who doubles your workload with their gross incompetence.
Maybe if work in the hospitality industry was compulsory, and everyone had to walk a mile in your coffee stained, tomato sauce splattered shoes, people might have more empathy. They would know when their meal hasn’t arrived after half an hour that it’s better to calmly ask the waitress of its whereabouts, rather than berate her over something that’s probably not her fault. They would know that yes, their monster truck of a pram is an obstruction when positioned at the table in the middle of a walkway. They would know that if they’re going to order a half soy, half hot water, triple shot decaf flat white with one sweetener and absolutely no froth, they’re better off doing the world a favour and investing in an at-home espresso machine. And, inevitably, they would be miserable — just like you.
But at least they’d be better people.
Words by Delia Murray. Photo via.