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Before I finally put my very expensive degree to work and got my job in PR, I had to pay the bills. I was a very good barmaid and waitress for five years. Five. Long ass. Years. It sucked, the money was bad, I worked shitty hours, people are crazy, your colleagues are even worse. But to be honest, I learned a lot during my time in the hospitality industry – about myself, about other people, and the way the world works. I got by and I dont regret it for a second. Here’s the ten things I learned whilst doing my sentence:

It won’t prepare you for real life, but it will prepare you for shitty people
I got paid to make a customer’s day better and that sometimes includes talking to their kids. One such time, a little girl liked me so much she told her mother she wanted to be just like me when she grew up. Without missing a beat, and not even giving one shit that I was wiping down the booth RIGHT next to her, she exclaimed: “No darling, you want to have a better job than just a waitress“.

No bullshit. Man, that hurt. Especially since I was working two jobs and studying for my exams at the same time. That was a shitty thing of her to do, but I knew she was wrong.

The customer is not always right. Like, they are hardly EVER right
Just get over it. You will always be ‘wrong’ in the long run if they try to escalate. People are fucking dumb. They’ll tell you you’re wrong even if what they asked for is put down in front of them five minute later. ESPECIALLY if they’re drunk. Just whatever dude. Smile. Take the tip. Punch a wall. Chill. It’s not forever.

You can eat whatever the hell you like
Always. Burgers. Ribs. Fat off the grill. I promise you won’t gain weight. You’re running around 14 hours solid. You need it!

You will always smell like food
It’s not nice. I’d go round stinking of this gross ribs/fat hybrid grossness. It’s gonna happen. Wash your uniform. Wash yourself.

Your boss is (probably) a prick
Oh yeah. Someone I encountered was literally the most jumped up, sarcastic, power-tripping man I have EVER met – I’ve actually never met someone so abhorrent since. You can be a boss and be a leader, but when you’re making people feel like actual shit for no reason because you’re ‘in charge’, you have an issue. I cried in the staff toilets so many times due to his nastiness and rudeness, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Anyway, I satisfy myself now in knowing I’m doing better than he ever will.

Bitches actually be cray
I once sent a lovely salmon caesar salad to a table only for it to be sent back and be shouted at as it was ‘fishy’. Also, be prepared for someone to ask you for a strawberry milkshake and then slam it down on the table as they CLEARLY asked for a chocolate one. Perfect that evil smile. The gritted teeth. Of course, madam…

Not only that, but people will fuck with you if they think it’ll get them money off their meal. I served a table of 25 perfectly, for some kid’s birthday. This one auntie went mental when I tried to clear her plate after like an hour and a half and then again when I told her it was NOT kids eat free as it was Thursday and not Sunday. She then went cray at my manager saying I had been an awful waitress to try and recoup the money from her little ‘deal’ she had going. Luckily my manger saw through it and was like no…

People think you’re an octopus and get mad when you’re actually not
I have two arms and they are fairly normal sized. I’ve mastered carrying three dishes at a time, four if it’s a little one on my little finger. I once had a guy stand up and scream that I’d “totally fucked everything up” as I brought out three of his selected eight dishes. Man. They’re right there, give me two seconds and I’ll get them. I couldn’t even. Sorry dude let me CRACK OUT MY EIGHT OCTOPUS ARMS AND LAY DOWN YOUR DISHES IN AN OCTOPUS MANNER.

I literally said “I’ve got two arms, I can’t bring everything at once”, but unfortunately, that was too much for his little brain to compute. Meal ruined. Oh my actual god.

You will have to clear up bodily fluids
Nah, no joke. As a waitress, I had to clear up kids puke, spit and grimy plates. But in a BAR? Man. Think of a bodily fluid. I’d cleaned them all. Puke from too many shots on a curry dinner, menstrual blood, and even…spunk off the wall. Yep. That wasn’t the best day. Prepare yo’ self.

Waiters and waitresses are all actors
Everyone has a “persona.” You use this sing-song voice, start saying ‘folks’ and ‘guys’ and you get this upbeat attitude that Disney employees would be jealous of. It’s just like that scene in Waiting where Naomi goes from shouting F-bombs all over the kitchen to being all smiley and shiny at her table.

It’s not all bad
This all sounds bloody awful but it’s really not all bad. You get to and HAVE to speak to different people every day and it prepares you for your personal and professional development. You learn to grow a thick skin and not be so sensitive – people are arseholes. Don’t be one yourself though!

I think everyone should have to work in the hospitality industry for a week, just to understand what it’s like. The difference between the people who have never worked in food service, and the people who have, is always clearly visible. And a lot of time it has to do with the basic degree of respect they give to the people who are serving them.

What do you think?

commuterOh my god, I hate commuting. I got away with it for so long, living and working in Kingston-upon-Thames for nearly four years. How I’d relish the secret thrill of thinking ‘haaaaaasucka’, when my poor colleagues got stuck waiting for delayed trains or told me their wake-up times, like 6am what even is that bro.

Alas, it could not continue. I knew that eventually I’d have to get a grip and get out of my Surrey bubble. I mean, I wouldn’t actually move out of Surrey for god’s sake, who do you think I am – but the time had come to stop pissing about and join the masses.

When I joined my new agency, based in Euston, I got to Twickers station bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, no big deal right? Oh nah. I felt like the whole of bloody Twickenham wanted to get on that train and I ended up under a man’s armpit and up against a lady’s derriere – it was verging on perverted (I could feel the cheeks).

Over the next few weeks I nearly fainted twice, dropped a bunch of stuff like hair clips, pens and other things never to be retrieved, cursed and tutted my friggin’ brain out and arrived at the office looking less slick than I wanted.

It’s alright, it’s not forever – ONLY 40 YEARS TO GO. No but seriously, people do this every day for years – I don’t even have it that bad. I come in twice or three times a week max and work from home the rest of the time (nothing like slamming a journalist with a hard-hitting pitch when you’re sat in your PJs eating Rich Tea biscuits for breakfast – I mean WHAT, who’d even do that?)

I thought I’d put together a few tips of how I make it through the ghastly London rat-race of a morning.

It’s really hot, don’t even bother wearing a coat ever
Unless you want the disgusting feeling of a trickle of sweat running gently down your back, lay off the layers. Take one with you if you must. Winter, if anything, is worse. I remember one disgusting journey when a guy was sweating so badly inside his full suit and puffa jacket that sweat was dripping of his head in a stream, onto his phone, into his coffee, on the floor, almost on to us. Embarrassing mate, can you not.

Don’t you DARE bring a massive backpack
Don’t be bloody selfish to the handbag/briefcase people getting peak trains to get into the office between 8-9. I mean, how very dare. Take your ridiculously over-sized luggage and get an off-peak train when we’re all ensconced in our offices, having not been assaulted by your life in a bag. Or walk. You’re CLEARLY going on a hike, Bag-Man.

Literally no one wants to hear your phone conversation
Nothing worse than hearing half a conversation, especially as I am so nosy. Everyone’s listening, don’t be so narcissistic.

Prepare to be judo-flipped, pole hogger
You know who you are. Leaning nonchalantly against the middle pole like it ain’t no thing, when we’re all flying across the carriage because we’d rather do that than either ask you to move or actually *shudder* touch you. It’s a British thing.

Reading material = god send
All the better to ignore you with, my dear.

Club together, tut as a mass
Might be mob mentality, but once commuters have something to be pissed off about, we get pissed off TOGETHER. AS A UNIT. Muted ‘for Christ’s sakes’, shared shakes of heads, tapping feet and fingers, unite.

If you even think about standing on the left side of the escalator, I swear to GOD
Just be fucking sensible alright?

Good luck, fellow commuters. I’m sure we’ll all be ignoring each other together shortly.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 10.10.42Hi,

God, you really think you’re the shit, don’t you? You’re not, by the way. You’ll look back in a few years and cringe. Hard. The way you type is REALLY bad as well, putting spaces between punctuation , like , this , really isn’t cool ! You’ve also got a shit hair cut.

I know you don’t really think you’re the shit, though. You’re a emotional ball of anxiety, constantly on the verge of tears, hidden by a choppy bleached blonde cut and a short skirt. I’m really sorry to tell you, I know you think that that feeling will go away when you go to uni and start your ‘real’ life, but it doesn’t. You’re still going to feel that way at 25. It’s just you’ll have better ways to hide it. The trick is to pretend not to give a shit – and if you do it enough you can kind of kid yourself that you don’t.

Your self-confidence is at an all time low, I know. I remember your lowest ebb and what you thought of doing and unfortunately, it still brings me to tears thinking about it at 25. The people who made you feel that way will slip into obscurity, I promise you. You will feel better. It does get better. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do. You learn to cope.

Stop worrying about the boys at school. They are fucking lame.

Stop worrying about the girls at school. You will never speak to most of them again once you get out of Stratford-upon-Avon. You know, you never felt like you really fitted in, anyway.

You pass your exams well, and yes, you’re going to Kingston.

Unfortunately, it’s not together forever for you and L. But it’s okay! It ends amicably and you will meet someone else. And you will want to, even though you say you don’t.

Be nice to your mother please. You don’t move back home and this is the last few months you’ll spend together properly before you start adulting. She misses you and loves you more than you know – you’re not looking properly yet. Let her be happy in her own way, too. Stop telling her she is ‘lame’, she ain’t. You’d do well to be a mother like her (no, it hasn’t happened yet, much to her chagrin).

Your brother is bloody awesome, and you can’t see that yet either. Don’t pester, let him grow. It all comes right.

Stop worrying about Daisy. She’s got plenty of time left and she won’t hate you for leaving. You even get to take her to the beach, like you always wanted!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, stop worrying so much. I mean, yeah you’re always going to worry, but stop taking yourself so seriously!

It’s supposed to be fun! The best is yet to come.

Ella x

 

3588234437_caab2c0924_oYour friend is pregnant and you’re over the moon! You want to hug and jump around with her (but you don’t because all of a sudden you feel your friend is like this fragile sacred vessel carrying the body of a new angel) and get pissed (but you can’t anymore so you buy a celebratory bottle of Schloer to pretend).

It’s not all growing baby bumps and little booties though – pregnancy is HARD – and you’re not even the one going through it!

Here are my tips on how to get through your friend’s pregnancy without a hiccup.

Be there

Okay, Captain Obvious. You’ve been there for her before but now things are different and she needs you in a different way. Sometimes she can’t complain to her husband or mother about new stretch marks and other odd-goings-on the way she can with you. Sometimes she’ll want to talk for ages about how crap she feels, how much her bloody bloody husband is pissing her off, how she can’t sleep. It’s best just to listen. There’s not much in the way of advice to give, so just being an outlet for a rant can be very conducive for her mood. It’s not all bad either. Sometimes you can talk for hours about names and bedding little babygros and was that a foot? It’s all super exciting.

Offer to help

But not too much. She’s not an invalid. Offer to go shopping with her, or to antenatal classes to support her if she needs it. Don’t be surprised if you’re turned down, a lot of this stuff is husband/wife/mother/in law territory – but it’s good for her to know you’ll be there if she needed you.

She might be bitchy

And hot. And stubborn. And annoyed. And ratty. I’d keep quiet if I were you. She’s not pissed of with you, she’s pissed off that she can’t cool down and that she’s put on half a stone and she had no control over it. It’ll soon pass when the miracle of life feeling passes over her again. But do expect the mood swings.

Don’t tell her how big or small her bump is

This is a big one and one I’d not have considered. Apparently it’s a huge deal. This lady even went to the papers because she was so annoyed with people telling her she was ‘huge’ at 24 weeks. From what I can gather, telling a woman how big the bump is makes her immediately feel all fat and gross, whilst telling her how small it is only makes her anxious that something might be wrong with the baby. Don’t do it. If you have to tell her anything, tell her how bloody good she looks.

Don’t rush into seeing her when the baby is born

You might be best-friends-do-everything-together-love-you-millions, but when the baby is born, the priorities go like this: the baby, the mother, then the father/other mother, then the immediate family. You are wayyyy down that list of priorities, sorry. Some women do allow friends to visit in hospital, but it can be a bit overwheliming, and often they don’t keep new mothers in long enough now for several visitations. Some women only allow immediate family to visit, and then go home with their husband or boyfriend (or wife or girlfriend) to start their lives as a threesome before allowing other people in. It takes a lot of getting used to, you know! Ask your friend way in advance what she thinks she might want, but be aware that this may change when the baby is born (even if she said she wanted to see you straight away). And no matter what, under any circumstances, do NOT arrive unexpectedly, no matter how much you want to squeeze new chubby cheeks!

 

Do you have or have you had an expecting friend? How much of this do you identify with?

 

 

shut-up-re-some-more-sx-197393-e1425907835474*Name changed to protect the bitchy.

Dear Miss Simpson,

I don’t know what it was about you, or why I felt you had it in for me. But you did. You were one of my favourite teachers throughout school, fun and interesting and one we could be ourselves around. Come Sixth Form, you’d been promoted (?) and were all of a sudden a ‘force to be reckoned with’. Why? What changed? Did you feel like you had to ‘play a part’?

Remember when you called a meeting with my mother to try to convince me to drop my fourth A Level and carry on with three, as you didn’t feel ‘it was the best direction’ for me? Remember how I cried and you sat there smugly?

Remember when you came into the common room at lunchtime and screamed at me in front of all of my peers because I was wearing ‘skinny trousers’? I was constantly called out and made to feel embarrassed, although looking around the room you could have pointed out another five or ten people who weren’t in the uniform that was up to your ‘standard’. Ugg boots, hoodies, trainers everywhere – but my black business trousers had to go, didn’t they?

Remember when I got my A Level results, and you’d drawn a big star on the front of my envelope? You took me away from all my peers who were celebrating their results and made me open my envelope in a room ‘in case I hadn’t got the results I wanted’. Well, I did. I got into my first choice university, onto the degree I wanted. I wish I could have taken a picture of your face when I came out of that office beaming. Your mask slipped and in that moment I realised you actually had wanted me to fail. You made it so obvious. I went back to my friends and celebrated, just the way I was supposed to.

Speaking with peers who knew how I felt at that time, I realised you affected more people than just me. That’s awful. You could have been awesome and supportive and helpful, but you turned into this angry, stomping tornado who felt the need to bring people up to your ‘standard’ – which you tried to tell us was what we had to get used to if we were to go and work in a normal ‘business environment’. You were SO wrong. I was terrified to start my first real job in case I encountered people like you. Not once have I – and I believe someone behaving the way you behaved wouldn’t have lasted long either.

Have you ever heard that saying: ‘a boss inspires fear, a leader generates enthusiam’? No? Probably best you look it up.

I think you felt very important in your role and perhaps because of this, very under pressure. Maybe you were exerting your ‘power’ because you yourself were feeling nervous that you couldn’t live up to what was expected of you. The part you played has affected me for years. You made me feel like what I wore or said or did wasn’t good enough, something I struggle with to this day, comparing myself to other people and worrying about what others think.

However, you also affected me in a good way. You made me feel so crap about myself that I was determined not to fail and to be the very best I could, if anything, just to prove you wrong. I’m sitting here in my own flat, with my own money and my own bloody awesome job. Making a massive headway up the career and property ladder – MY way. The way everyone should do things – something you must have forgotten along the way.

I hope you found your peace and never made anyone feel the way you made me feel again. And yeah, I’m still wearing skinny trousers.

Ella.