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Diary of a Bi-Lingual Waitress

Day Minus One
As the bank account is looking a little empty, and my friends are acting as though they have won the lottery, organising holidays, day trips, dinners and shopping sprees, I have decided it is time to get another job. So, after dropping in my C.V into hundreds of hotels and bars and clubs and shops, I have had 4 or 5 interviews.

One at a swingers bar, great money, but, actually when it came to it, I wasn't at all sure I wanted to work in that...business(?) and the others didn't tickle my fancy either, apart from one. In a bar just around the corner from la Plaza de la Virgen. it is a 7 hour shift, waitressing, and, as luck would have it, they have hired one of my closest friends too.

I have never, and I repeat, never, waitressed in my life. But I have decided that it will be good experience, and it will spice up my C.V.

I have had several nightmares about long tables full of good looking men, and me dropping a tray on top of the sexiest one, I have had another one, when im squeezing through tables carrying plates and I fall over flat on my face!

The best news was that there is no uniform, street wear is the dress code, so at least I can look fabulous whilst I drop things! Also we get paid in cash at the end of every night. And its only Friday and Saturday nights. The bad news is that we will miss all those dinners and drinks for the next few months, and we will leave work tired, smelly and work-like, whilst everybody else is already merry, looking beautiful and inside a club.

I start tomorrow, at 7pm. I have planned my first night outfit, and have been practising by serving everyone that comes over to my flat a whole meal on a tray, and then cleaning it up before they have finished, so I can re-serve it to them. Oh!, And tonight I'm going out for dinner, so I can be served dinner TO and hopefully pick up some tips.. Wish me luck!

And please don't go for dinner anywhere near the Plaza de la Virgen for a few weeks...

Day One
I have a killer cold.
My head is about to explode. My nose is blocked, someone has sneaked razor blades all down my throat, you could fry eggs on my forehead. It is 5pm, and I am not going to work.

Phone call from friend - ''don't be so ridiculous, get in the shower and get to work! For Christ's sake, people go to work with worst things than a little cold..bla bla bla''.

Next thing I know, I am standing outside the bar with G, feeling slightly better, trying to decide whether we want to go inside. There is a slightly dodgy-looking red sports car parked out front, the lights are on full. In we walk. ''hola, hola, hola'' . And that was it for half an hour. We stood in in the door way whilst they all looked us up and down, down and up, nodded then walked away. Eventually, the boss came out. ''Help yourselves to drinks, Susana will be with you asap''.  Right. Susana. Who's Susana? And how are we supposed to serve ourselves to drinks if we don't even know where they are? Suddenly I spot two girls sitting on the floor behind the bar, peeling potatoes. I smile, and they smirk back. Nice. Very nice. A little old lady throws us a key and says something incoherent about leaving our things in the cloakroom, beckoning us to the front door. G  grabs me by the shoulder and eventually we find a little room with clothes and things thrown on top of the sinks. He leaves our jackets and helmets and my bag. And we go back to the bar. Five minutes later, another old lady comes out holding my bag, ''Your phone is ringing,'' she says. No, I insist, my phone is not ringing, my phone is off. ''All bags with money and valuables in them are to left under the bar'', she spits at me. I open my bag, which has been raked through and poked at by Old Lady no.2. Everything is not how I left it. And so I put it under the coffee machine with the mouldy bags of coffee. Out comes Susana, who looks remotely normal - tells me to get in the kitchen and help Valeria, who turns out to be Old Woman no.1. Who is Portuguese, and comes up to my hip, and has a huge, gushing, blistering oil burn on her right hand. Valeria seems to be in front of the sink. Washing up. Old Lady no.2, the bag-looker, pokes me. ''You wash, she can rinse''. Oh thanks, I think, lovely. A little later, a very pot-marked, slightly creepy boy appears with a bucket, and dumps it in front of me by the sink. ''I'm David'' he grunts. ''Clean these''.  'These' are huge, whole, frozen, squid. My stomach and everything I have ever eaten turns. So I clean the squid - with my bare, just manicured hands - and apparently this little bar doesn't use rubber gloves. They don't use dishwashers either. They don't smile. And I don't think they have ever heard of cleaning with bleach. Or a mop.

G comes in and mouths, ''you owe me one''. And then bursts out laughing at the sight of my cleaning fish. (In our group of friends I am the one famous for being a slightly picky eater, fish is a definite no-no. And any kind of creature that it looks like it was even once swimming around the sea). Someone tuts at the sound of G being happy. And then pushes us both out and shouts ''Learn how the tables go! 1-2, 1-3, A-3, bla bla bla bla'' . ''Lay the tables!'' ''Make sangria!!'' ''Pour a jug of beer - Jesus Christ and every other swear word under the sun - not like that! Are you stupid?''. I don't know. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not!

By 10pm, I have had enough, more than enough. At this point, people start to arrive for dinner, and food starts to be made. And G and I start to serve and clear tables, and pour endless jugs of sangria and beer. G has dropped a glass of wine down someone's sleeve, and a tray of glasses behind the bar, at the boss's feet, because he wouldn't get out of his way. I am screamed at by this minute, south- American waitress for trying to wash a jug, apparently the jugs don't get washed - you just re-use them, same goes for the fruit in the sangria, same goes for the bread - the rock-hard bread that is probably a week old, the bottles of water don't get thrown away if there is more than a millimetre of water left, you use them to fill up other ones that people have not finished. You don't wipe the dirty plates - of course you don't! Ha! You just throw them, cutlery, serviettes, end of food, into a bath-size sink full of vomit-like water, so that Old Lady no.1 , a.k.a., Valeria, can wash them up with her swollen burnt hand.

By 11.30, I am feeling rather ill, so I ask Susana if I could possibly just step outside for five minutes to get some air as I am feeling a little strange. -''I'll only be five minutes,'' I say sweetly. ''no'' she replied ''you'll be 2''.

1am, G and I have been shouted at, pushed around, tutted at, so many times we could make the Guinness Book of Records. The restaurant is heaving, the kitchen is knee-deep in filth, pure filth. My jeans are brown to the knee, David, the creepy kitchen guy, has thrown a lit cigarette my way, brushing my calf, and then laughed - cause, I'm just the stupid new girl! All the staff have smoked a packet each, and I have been screamed at for having a single puff. I have been looked down on because I asked for bleach to wipe the empty tables with. Jesus Annie, we only use bleach Saturdays. Of course you do. Right.

1.30am, G and I are close to tears, we have cleared and re-set 50 tables, we have swept the whole restaurant (and got told off for doing it too thoroughly - they only mop and really sweep the floors on a Saturday night. Of course.). I have emptied the toilet bins with my hands, because they don't put bags in them!

2 am, everyone else is sitting around chatting and drinking wine and beer, and me and G are being ignored. We were told we would be finished by 2am, it is now 2.30, and we both have plans at 3. G asks if we can leave - he get screamed at. Apparently, we leave when they say we can. G smirks, and asks if we can get paid, he is screamed at again. And money is thrown at us across the bar with the keys to the cloakroom. I grab my bag, dodging Old Lady no.2 on my way, and jacket and stand next to G, eyes closing, legs killing me. Eventually we are allowed to leave. ''Hasta mañana.''

Yeah, we'll see

Day Two
I am not a happy bunny.
At all.
My body aches, even my hair hurts. No matter how many showers i take, and no matter how many times i scrub my shoes, i still stink of that horrible place. After fleeing last night, G and I went clubbing. I got home at 8am. I have woken up today at 5.30, I have showered, got dressed and G has come over annoyed and angry and hung-over.

Arrive at bar, boss comes out. ''Annie, you're in charge of the sink today - you'll be washing up''.

So I washed up, and I washed up a little more, and a little more, and then i washed up again...

Until 3.40 am.

And then I left my new job.

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