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A Gap Year of Progress:Part Two

A Gap year of Progress part 2:

(The Christmas Period at Work) – 12 days of Sh*tmas

Before I pick up where I left off in my previous article, I’ve decided to take the liberty of what was initially supposed to be a paragraph, and expanding it into its own instalment. It’s somewhat like the upcoming Han Solo spin off, as its out of nowhere, and no one really asked for it, but anyway – read on.

So if you the reader, could take yourself back to 2017, back to a time when tide pods were found exclusively in washing machines rather than in the mouths of meme driven teenagers, we can begin this story. I am indeed referring to the ‘Festive’ period, which is anything but for workers. It’s a time in which self worth and human value is left at the door, whilst employees prepare themselves to be swamped in a Dawn of the Dead –esque manner by over demanding customers during the Festive season.

It wasn’t flesh that the festive hoards had a taste for, but rather overcooked slices of turkey and pre- made deserts, which were more alike to school lunches than anything else. But the free market decided that the illusion of grandeur, and free bread rolls was all too tempting.

I had been warned by the majority of my colleagues how chaotic things got over Christmas, and that I needed to brace myself. I was told it was the sort of stuff that builds moral fibre and turns Boys to Men – I truly felt like I was at the end of the road (if you didn’t get that then your mum probably will) - I had only been working at the restaurant for a mere seven weeks and I thought I had seen some hellish shifts so far, but come Boxing Day I was already longing for a life elsewhere with minimal customer interaction.

Prior to it all starting, I had envisioned the upcoming two weeks as the herculean moment of my culinary career, where I carried the weight of the world/restaurant on my shoulders and the weight of the plates in my hands, as I soldiered through whatever came through those doors.

Upon my arrival I noticed that most of my colleagues were either wearing elf ears or some sort of festive clothing and I was made aware of my secular uniform, and thankfully it wasn’t mandatory. My workplace had seen visits from the police before; we didn’t need the fashion police turning up either.

Once I clocked in, I found myself thrown to the wolves just like King Leonidas at the start of 300, but rather than pointing a spear at an approaching wolf like him, I found myself pointing senile pensioners towards the toilets that were in plain sight, in hopes they wouldn’t get lost or wander astray. A prime example of the festive sh*t show that is the Christmas period emerged from my first table of the shift; ten customers ended up leaving angrily, as I didn’t take their desert order as quickly as they hoped. This was due to the fact I was trying to split a 300 pound bill three ways, item by item, and couldn’t get to them in time.

Now to those who have never worked as a waiter/waitress before, this sounds like such a non issue not worth writing about, yet when you serve people and they’re visibly angry at your service AKA you f*ck up, It's like your heart stepped on lego...

Six hours later I was done. Alas I had survived, and come the end of the shift we all gathered around the bar to share our war stories of the day. I remarked to my shift manager how lucky I was to have Christmas Day off and he responded saying “ah if you’re not doing Christmas this year you will definitely be doing it next year” I quickly formed a feigned frown to mask the sh*t eating grin I felt coming on, as I knew that I would be out of there by the summer, and I would never again worry about Christmas dinners that weren’t my own.

The time period between Christmas Day and New Years Eve that no one really knows what to call was a blur, with nothing interesting really happening. Once again I smiled and pretended to enjoy servicing customers and in turn I came home with cash in hand, yet the customers for the most part were truly forgettable, it was almost like being a hooker with amnesia. That’s all that really happened over those days so I’ll save you the reading time and just leave it there.

Before my final shift of the festive period on New Year’s Day I had spent New Year’s Eve like any good person; counting down the seconds and drunkenly hugging people that I haven’t seen since 2018 began. I then left in the early hours of the morning to work the same day. Nothing unusual for most workers but it was still new to me. I would normally be nursing my hangover in bed being consumed by dehydration and regret; instead I had to postpone my self-care till 5pm. Once that 5pm arrived and I realised that not only could I leave, but in fact the Christmas period was long over, a sense a relief overwhelmed my hung-over self.

As I gracefully walked past the bar whilst noticing how it was stocked with brandy, rum, gin – you name it, I suddenly realised that the only spirit in short supply was in fact my own. When you’re tending to everyone else’s festive needs you have little time to sort your own, at least in my favour with it then being January, customers were now too broke to dine out and thus the place would be like a ghost town for all of four weeks, giving me some well needed peace and quiet. My university funds also sustained rapid growth over those two weeks with my wallet seeing tips galore, so I suppose it wasn’t entirely doom and gloom.

Overall, the festive period truthfully wasn’t exactly Westfield Boxing Day sh*t but it was still sh*t nonetheless. As both sh*t in a septic tank and sh*t in a clogged toilet are both still sh*t nonetheless, and even more unpleasant when you’re the one who’s got to sort it out.

-Owen Hanley