Okay – so I’m 32, an IT/Marketing professional by trade, married and with a mortgage roughly the size of Tom Cruise’s ego and general oddness combined. Does that really make it a bad thing that I enjoyed my first day working in a bar/restaurant for roughly a decade so much? Or that I’m really pleased that I just bumped into the owners as I came home from a brief bike ride and was offered 2 more shifts over the next few days seeing as another member of staff has just disappeared?

On Monday I was in for a trial day and I must admit I was absolutely cacking myself, dreading that I might have forgotten how to do something as simple as carry more than one plate at a time or that I’d do a Fawlty Towers-esque stumble and end up spilling hot soup all over the Lord Provost’s wife’s brand new dress. More than that any screw-ups would be twice as awkward seeing as it’s our local and I’d have to show face again at some point after being fired.

The start of the day was something of a blur, as expected. It was a 12 till closing shift so it was pretty dead but there was plenty to learn – how to work the till and coffee machine, how the kitchen likes their orders presented, where everything lives, all the usual bits and bobs. This was fine except for the fact that it was so quiet that once I was shown how to do anything I didn’t get a chance to actually do it myself so it was forgotten 30 seconds later. Actually taking all of this stuff in after a night of getting no sleep was incredibly tiring so come 4 o’clock well, it was meant to be 4 but closer 4:30) I was incredibly glad for my break.

90 minutes have never passed so quickly…

And on to the evening shift. Now before Gareth and Amanda opened The Espy there had been a series of owners who barely lasted a summer each and generally made a pig’s arse of the place. These two have seriously turned it around with a bit of attention to detail and some stunning food so even on a cloudy driech Monday it can still get much busier than you’d expect. This was when it all came flooding back to me, the fun of getting the chat with random people for a few minutes at a time, the appreciation you get for good service, the non-stop compliments about the food. I was working harder, physically anyway, than I had done since getting back from Australia* in 1999 or whenever it was, but I was still loving it.

There are so many reasons to love working there. The staff are a good laugh, it’s a chilled out place, the clientele are a sound lot, I get a free amazing meal if I work a 12hr shift, I get all the coffee I want (even when I’m not working!) and, of course, it’s right downstairs. But more than that, and similar to the English teaching work, it actually makes you feel good to do it. You’re actually interacting with human beings and making them happy, not just generating more cash for mannerless, pig-ignorant, unimaginative, intolerant clients. You’re actually moving around which must be, in some small way at least, vaguely good for you rather than sitting staring at a screen all day, only interrupting the boredom with occassional expeditions to the coffee machine.

Now maybe I’m being too hasty. Maybe I’ll get tired of the work pretty quickly. Maybe too many late shifts will mean I don’t get to see the lovely Aarayan as often as I want/need to so I’ll be forced to quit. And I’m all too aware of the fact that they’re trying out a lot of new staff just now, and that the majority of those people will have more extensive and more recent experience than me (last time I worked in a restaurant there was no such thing as those card machines you bring to the table, trufax).

Still, it’s better than I could have hoped for and right now I’m just so glad not to be doing what I was before. Come Sunday I’ll let you know whether the magic has worn off :p

*Any Aussie readers, particularly Melbournians, will recognise the name ‘The Espy’. Yes, it’s named after the famous Espy in St. Kilda, Melbourne. I stayed in Melbourne for 9 months when I was in Oz and enjoyed the pleasures of the Espy more times than I can remember – literally, it’s a very hospitable place! A veritable rock institution, it plays host to all manner of local bands as well as big touring names. My favourite bit of trivia, vaguely remembered through a decade-old drunken haze is that a cerytain Mr Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain for the philistines among you) once popped his head through the door back in the day. That fact alone makes it a mandatory pitstop if you’re ever in that hemisphere. Maybe that little bit of chat helped seal the deal with Amanda when I asked about jobs 🙂

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