Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Viva Revolution Series...


Sometimes I do silly things. I decided, three days ago, on a whim, because I was bored at the moment, to find a bartending job in Norwich. Within hours, I was interviewing at Mambo Jambo Mexican Restaurant (completely lacking anything authentic)...and I was told by the owner to start the next evening. What should be noted is that I had to DUMB DOWN my CV to apply for this job, otherwise, I would likely appear overqualified. Goodbye internships. Goodbye awards. Goodbye Bachelor's degree. I'm just a working man, plain and simple - highlighting the "private parties" (read: keggers) I coordinated during college and my time in Dublin when I was 18 working at Bruxelles of Harry first the Michael Buble music at Mambo Jambo was alright - but I didn't like that I was promised a staff meal and then told "we just stopped doing staff meals yesterday because of abuses..." - talk about abuse: I would have eaten my dog (if I had one) halfway through my shift because I was so hungry. I actually resorted to stealing, yes STEALING raw potatoes out of a bin (who knows how long they were there? I learned the drinks and the methods quickly enough - that wasn't the problem...what I didn't like was the 2-hour long cleanup session. That just didn't feel right...there's a lot of cheap labor around, why not hire them, rather than use me who's half dead at the end of an 8 hour shift...the night ended on a high note as the asst. manager (34-years-old and single) awkwardly flirted with me to the point where she did my job for me and mopped my section of the floor and proceeded to enjoy me spraying water on her from a sink...I figured by the end of the night I'd have her spread eagle on the bar...didn't happen, but then came tonight...


Tonight, I arrive at the restaurant at 4:50 - a mere 300 seconds late. I negotiated last night to have a staff meal because I was coming straight from the time it was served to me, it was 5:05, and then I was scolded at 5:08 for not being ready to work at 5:05. Nonetheless, there were no customers until 6 anyway. I soon found out that I was not working alone tonight. Sam, who'd been there for three months but was quitting on Saturday would be there to assist me as the "new guy." I soon learned from Sam that he was a "sales executive" (read: USED CAR SALESMAN) by day, and hoped to earn additional money and keep himself busy by bartending at night. I immediately said to Sam: How the hell have you lasted this long listening to that horrid rendition of Happy Birthday they play 20 times per night (this is no exaggeration, Mambo Jambo is the epitome of Norwich Birthday celebrations...god knows why?) And 2, which may be most important, how do you tolerate the fat that they have 4 CDs always on repeat: Michael Buble, Robbie Williams, and two different "Latin" mixes, one of which features the Macarena...Well, Sam wants to live in a luxury 4 bedroom townhouse and that's why he works 100 hours a week at two jobs...but clearly he was a tool and couldn't bring home a lady if his life depended on it...perhaps the worst thing for me as a bartender is annoying orderers - for example, people who say one drink, you get it for them, they say another drink, you get it for them, they say another drink - you keep hoping this cycle will end, but it never does. In fact, rather than order multiple drinks at once (because I am most certainly capable of pouring a Kronenberg and a Foster's simultaneously - crazy, I know) - they keep harassing you like this non-stop....and damn it, hire a barback...why should I be lugging cases up four flights of stairs mid-shift and also cleaning and restocking glassware every five minutes...I saw quite clearly in the "staff room" - the staff have an awkward amount of personal items up there, some of which I wish I'd never seen - a sign that said "no mobile phones while on your shift" and chose to ignore this rule...what if there was an emergency? when this Romanian waitress - again, hitting on me in the least subtle of ways (and I must admit, it was actually working until she mentioned the five worst letters in the English language - she had a C-H-I-L-D...and my buttons were switched off immediately) - mentioned that I was a rebel for completely ignoring the cell phone rule, I told her - I've started many a workplace revolution, and that's why I'm hear, to organize the labor, build a red army, galvanize you to freedom, and then be on my merry way back to New York.


Once my torturous evening of placing fresh bottles in the fridge and mopping floors came to an end, I was told to speak with "Jo" the assistant manager whom I almost mounted the night before...speaking with a higher up is never a good sign...i mean, I'd done my job properly - albeit with a few slip-ups - one time I didn't pour J2O into a proper J2O glass, using a generic glass instead (sue me!) and I refused to relinquish my cell phone while on shift (not like I used it in the midst of taking orders, but only during moments of complete calm)...but still, I was called in to see the big guns...I sensed trouble, immediately. I was told "Thank you for your trial run, we'll let you know next week if you have the job. We've got some others trying out for the position this week. Just fill out this form and we'll pay you as casual labor for two nights work." What? I wasn't hired for the job permanently? This shocked me beyond belief. Temporary hire? Casual labor? Trial period? All news to me! "Nobody told you that this was jut a trial period?" Absolutely not! I demanded to speak with the owner (not the one who hired me)...and politely I informed him about this miscommunication...he shook my hand and said goodnight....effectively ending my short-lived career as a Mexican restaurant bartender...oh well, the food was shit anyway and while a few of the waitresses were nice, the work consisted more of cleaner/busboy/occasional barman detail rather than the advertised "bartender" position...They gave me 66 quid but none of the "shared tips." At least I can give them a bad review in the UEA Concrete (little do they know that I'm the Food & Drink Editor...)...and then my vengeful heart will be eternally warmed.

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