Work in hospitality?

hospitality white toast with pink spread pink background

A few months ago, I wrote about 10 things I learned in the hospitality industry. It wasn’t particularly complimentary. In fact, I included some pretty gross stuff.

A couple of weeks ago though, when scanning a place we were eating in with a critical eye for its waiter service and how long dishes were left on the hot plate before being run (a habit, even four years on, I can’t shake), Will asked me if I ever missed managing a restaurant.

Actually, I do. Oh, I wouldn’t go back. I’ve put my degree to good use and I’m working my way up the dream career ladder, steadily and hungrily. However, on reflection, there were some serious advantages and perks to working in service.

If you ever want to, or perhaps need to start a job in hospitality, here’s what they are:

Rapport with colleagues

I don’t know another job where you can get so frustrated with someone, call each other a c*nt, go outside to have a cigarette to calm down for five minutes, and then come back in and carry on laughing and joking as usual. It’s a stressful role and everyone recognised that. Nothing was personal, everything was about real team work.

I miss finishing a 14-hour shift and not bothering to go home, but sitting together in the empty restaurant and working your way through a pack of shared fags and your allocated staff drinks …heading to a club until 3am and then doing it all over again the next day. Or maybe that’s rose-tinted glasses – we definitely drank far too much!

You know the job inside out and upside down


By the end of my time at the restaurant, I don’t think there’s anything that could have been asked of me that I couldn’t sort out. I had that shit handled. Nowadays, I’m constantly learning on the job – developing new skills and doing new things. Errday. Whilst doing a great job is hugely satisfying, it can sometimes leave the door open to making mistakes.

When you look at it like that, I do sometimes miss the pure confidence I’d have in walking in the door at the restaurant and knowing that I could absolutely handle whatever the day threw at me. HOWEVER – mistakes make us. I’d also got to the point where there was no more to learn – and where’s the fun in that? Now, I love my personal mini fist-pumps when I manage to pull off a calculated risk at work, and the knowledge I’ll have learned something new by the end of the day.

Money


Now do not get it twisted. I earn a HELL of a lot more than I was ever earning before. But…there’s just something about that little brown envelope with your weekly wages in it that I found so satisfying. And the tips! The thrill of clearing the table and finding a crisp fiver under the plate – joy. We used to make (what we thought was) a fortune around Christmas too. If you’re good at your job, it pays off – and those tips helped me out no end when I was at uni.

Exercise


I certainly do miss the amount of exercise I got on a daily basis. A 12 hour shift, four or five times a week, walking to and from home …even with food, we were definitely creating a calorie deficit. It’s probably why we never gained any weight from all the booze we were drinking each night!

Sitting at a desk now, I have to be careful with what I eat, and there’s definitely more of a need for ‘proactive’ exercise, i.e. having to actually run my ass off until I’m dead a few times a week.

Not having to shop on the weekend

If you’ve never had the luxury of having a job where your days off are in the week, you don’t get it. Casually sweeping around shops, walking at the pace you like, not having to stop yourself CRACKING PEOPLE ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD FOR WALKING TOO SLOWLY. Switching to a 9-5 and venturing out to do a usual shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon had me thinking I’d made an error in life choice. Thank god for Amazon Prime, eh?

New people, everyday

My job is exciting and creative, I work with some great people and there are always more opportunities to meet fun and interesting individuals, whether that’s a prospect, client, journalist, influencer or colleague. My life is full of a bunch of sick people (my 2017 / 18 resolution, get rid of the arseholes – tick). Pretty much though, all these people are on a level and are fairly normal and friendly – or as normal as you can be, working in consumer PR, where you have to come up with wacky ideas daily.

So, I definitely miss the absolute fascination of meeting the biggest arseholes on the planet. There was nothing more fun for me than to sit and listen to how much of a stupid fucking blonde I was for serving them mushroom with bread dumplings that I asked for that but I am CLEARLY GLUTEN FREE [are you?] AND IT SHOULD BE CLEARLY MARKED ON THE MENU [it is]. I will never cease to be amazed at the lengths people will go to for a couple of pounds off a bill. Absolutely amazing. I wish I could write down all my stupid customer stories. Maybe I will, I’ve bloody got enough.

Maybe the last one is a weird quirk of mine, but working in hospitality isn’t all bad (although a lot of it is pretty fucking bad). I still definitely think it should be a requirement for everyone to have to work in a hospitality environment to understand what it’s like to be on the other side. Might write to the PM to make it part of work experience requirements or something. You might encounter the worst kind of scum (NB: you will), but you’ll also experience the fast-paced fun the job can bring.

Ah, Winter Wonderland. It’s just pure Christmassy joy tucked into a little corner of Hyde Park, isn’t it? Ice skating, the circus, fairground rides and mulled wine – what’s not to love?

Actually, quite a lot. I had the absolute pleasure of managing an on-site restaurant a few years ago. I went to Winter Wonderland almost every day for almost seven weeks. Seven. Weeks.

Whilst some parts were pretty good to be fair, i.e. leaving the site at the end of the evening – most of it was an absolute DRAG. Some of this won’t apply to you if you go once a year for a couple of hours, but seven weeks working 10am-10pm, 6 days a week, earns this place a special place in hell for me. Here’s why.

 

Buggies galore and far too fuckin’ busy, can’t move, also why aren’t the children in bed?
It’s 9:30pm on a Tuesday, surely your spawn won’t be able to wake up in the morning after ingesting all that sugar? Why is your pram the size of France? Why have you stood in the middle of the concourse? WALK ON THE LEFT.

Expensive everything
£8 for a pint? £6.50 for 125ml of wine? Standard, give me 4. Prepare your wallets, the extortion is coming.

No toilets after 9:30pm so you have to go in a bush in Hyde Park when everyone has left
Yeah, probably not one that would apply to you, but might as well when you see some of the queues for those godawful portaloos. Good luck!

The same music over and over and over
Stalls / sellers aren’t really allowed their own music so most of it comes from a live band who sing the same songs, in the same order, night after night after night. It became a game to shout which song would be next. That version of ‘Valerie’ will forever haunt my dreams.

Cold as fuck
And WINDY. I have never been so cold in my life, I swear.

It closes at 10pm and people don’t like that at ALL
I know it’s fun, especially in the Bavarian tent with the live band – but it closes at 10pm. End of. Security starts coming round and will fine sellers should they sell anything after that point. The amount of people screaming at me as I wouldn’t fill up their dumb plastic steins at 10:15am was enough to last a lifetime, ta.

Food is shit
All mass-produced, rubbish – and I’ve seen where it’s stored. Grim!

Drinks are shit
Ditto. That mulled wine you just paid £6.50 for cost €20 to import the barrel. And imagine the mark-up on the powdered hot chocolate!

CASH ONLY – sorry is this 2017 or not?
Littttterrrrally, what? Lines upon lines of people trying to get £10 out of those shite ATMs that charge you £2.50 a transaction. Bring cash or you won’t be able to do anything.

If you don’t go, you’re missing out. So you have to.
And I am. This weekend. I will hate it but the Instas will be sick.

I was only just sixteen and I was lying on a blow up mattress in an unfamiliar place, in my bra. There was a middle-aged man hovering around above me taking pictures. And I was surrounded by rose petals. In fact, here’s a picture of it:

 

How awkward is that? You can see how my mouth is a little puckered – because I’m wearing braces. As I say, I’m wearing a bra, but I’d been asked to pull it down “quite low, please”, because otherwise the “straps will show in the shot”.

I remember feeling pleased with the pictures, thinking I looked quite pretty, and quickly forgot about them as I got on with my busy teenage life. Nothing ever came of them, after all. I also forgot about how awkward and uncomfortable I felt, trying to look confident and ‘sexy’ lying alone in the back room of a man I’d never met before, surrounded by chirpy pictures of his wife and kids. It’s not until I had a Facebook clear out recently that these pictures resurfaced and I realised just how creepy and inappropriate these images are. And I only have a couple of the images. He was clicking away for a very long time, directing my movements and position. Who knows where those pictures have ended up?

Now, this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to anyone, not by a long shot. But thinking about it, it’s still pretty bad. I can’t believe it’s only just occurred to me how easy it is for predators like Weinstein to take advantage of young girls and women. If anything else had begun to happen, would I have been brave enough to say no? Thinking of how timid I was back then, I can’t say with full confidence that I would have been.

That makes me feel worse: like so what – I would have just let it happen? Well, yeah. I would have probably frozen with absolute shock. I was never a promiscuous girl, and would have been at school what the youts call ‘frigid’. In the picture, I had just got my first ‘proper’ boyfriend, and things were still very, erm, ‘proper’ on that front at the time.

Since the Weinstein scandal, there have been plenty of women who have been brave enough to speak. It’s eye-opening and shocking just to see how common this behaviour is – not just to women, but to men too.

It’s really got me thinking about my life and experiences. Unfortunately, more and more things keep popping into my head that at the time made me feel very uncomfortable, but I didn’t do anything about and just compartmentalised and shut in my head. I believe this is a perfect ‘why’ to the naysayers who are having a go at all the actresses coming out with allegations: “Well if it happened, why didn’t you say anything before?”

I’ve been cat-called and whooped at from men in vans since about the age of 13. I’ve been called an ugly slut and a bitch for turning down an unsolicited video of an older man masturbating. I’ve also been full-on grabbed by the crotch whilst coming down the stairs at a club VIP area. I didn’t say anything – I was wearing quite a short dress, so I was probably asking for it, right?

Recently, model Cameron Russell has been using her Instagram account to share stories of harassment in the modelling industry with her followers. Like me, many of the experiences she’s shared are to do with underage models or female photographic assistants being put in dangerous and/or uncomfortable situations with male photographers.

You can see the stories on Cameron’s IG here: https://www.instagram.com/cameronrussell/

The Weinstein allegations come nearly a year to the day after Donald Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” video leaked; it was not enough to derail his presidential ambitions, but it inspired a million women to march.

I’m glad there is much less of a stigma around this, and people are speaking out. I feel like sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour is going the same way as mental health: if we all stand together and talk about it, it’s much less scary.

I do love my job, but I’m not ashamed to say that I live for the weekend. I also bloody love a GIF. Is it pronounced GIF or JIF? GIF…yeah, I thought so.

Here’s my standard week in GIF format.

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY 

SATURDAY

SUNDAY MORNING

SUNDAY NIGHT

Literal life, yo.

I joined the gym recently after years of avoiding it and thinking that hopping around the living room doing YouTube workouts was enough. I just turned 26 – and my naturally fairly lean body is starting to betray my horrendous habits of basically living off carbs and wine. It was time.

Truth be told, I was super nervous about going to the gym! I thought everyone would know that I was a total fitness n00b (which I am) and that I don’t know what I’m doing (which I don’t). My impending mid-late twenties pushed me over the edge though, and I signed up. And went. That was pretty much the hardest part – everything else just kind of gets normal after a while.

Here are my first impressions and tips on first joining the gym. I would really recommend it. I honestly thought I’d hate it and scoffed at people who work out on a hangover, or go to gym on a Saturday. I am now one of those people!

Choosing your outfit
Ooh honey, gone are the days of polyester shorts and P.E. pumps. It’s practically a fashion show at my gym. I thought long and hard about whether my lycra shorts I usually wear for pole were too much. Nope! I never thought I’d be one of those people who care about bloody activewear for fuck’s sake, but I’m finding I’m perusing Sweaty Betty and Lululemon more than Boohoo and Missguided at the moment! Although, wear whatever the hell you want. You’re there to impress yourself, not others.

What the fuck does that do?
Literally no idea what half the stuff does in the gym. There’s about 1,000 buttons to press, things to clip to other things, and who knew there was about 40 different types of weight shapes? Not me. Get yourself on a quick induction programme to be told how to use the equipment effectively (and safely!). Save yourself from being this woman.

Who are all these people?
Amongst the normals, i.e. me, there are some people there who are the equivalent to spotting a zebra in Ealing Broadway. Gym lore! I’ve heard about these types and was so pleased to find out they do actually exist!

Muscle Man – he looks like the ‘after’ photo for a protein supplement, with inSANE body-builder muscles that only he, and the girls on Love Island actually find attractive. He’s probably on Tinder.

Lipstick Lauren – oh man this girl! Her clothes say gym, but her face says nightclub. Often seen doing bicep curls with a cute weight, one hand on hip and facing a mirror, you know that her Insta is going to be full of ‘#sweaty’ sports bra pictures 2.5 seconds after leaving.

Grunty McGrunterson – we get it. You’re working hard. Like Maria Sharapova on the tennis court, Grunty makes himself heard with every rep. People looking over just makes him grunt louder. He also throws his weights on the floor afterwards and doesn’t put them back. Naughty.

Texter – a close relative of Lipstick Lauren, she spends an hour on the treadmill walking at 2.5mph. It’s too hard to navigate the touchscreen once your heart rate goes up.

Nude party fun
Lots of naked people about! Usually ones of your sex, but still. Get used to it ma man.

It’s harder than it looks…but it feels great
The first thing I was told on joining was to ‘make sure you push yourself every time’. So I have been. It’s not fun or pretty and I’ve definitely been on the verge of fainting after asking a girl if I could have a copy of this sick abs/cardio workout she was doing. Wish I hadn’t. But I’m glad I did. I never believed that you could feel good after – but for some reason you do. Sometimes there’s nothing more I’d like than to watch shit on telly and eat pizza in the warm, rather than dragging myself to the gym and running my ass off for 45 minutes. But DO IT. It’s win-win. Honestly, you feel so much better, and you get a better ass.