“I’m old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway.”
It’s 22h36 and I just got off my sixteen hour shift at the hostel we have been working at this past week for free room and food. I started at 7h00 sharp by serving breakfast to over forty tourists before cleaning (dishes, sweeping, etc…) and preparing dinner with the wonderful but way overworked cook. Then, at seven, we served food to the tourists once again before, doing more dishes than I ever thought possible. Though we have worked at quite a few hostels here in Georgia already, this one was very different because it had a kitchen, and therefore, way more work that needed to be done.
Though we enjoyed being put to work the first few days (it’s weird how things like work are fun once you have been away long enough) it quickly became tiring because we realized just how dishonest the owner really was. Though she was constantly telling us to take the day off and sightsee, this “demand” was always followed by a long list of things that needed to be completed that day. In fact, one day no one else even came into work so it was up to Kevin and I to do absolutely everything, even though she had specifically told us to take that particular day off to go visit a nearby lake. Perhaps even more frustrating than that is that the owner would constantly try and micro-manage situations she knew nothing about, like coming into the kitchen to yell, as if the world was coming to an end, “we need more tea” even though it was clear that someone already had the kettle in hand and was filling it up.
There were other small dishonest acts as well which quickly built up, leaving us less than happy to work for her. For example, the cook would often try and throw out the old food, but the owner would quickly yell at her for wasting her (the owners) money on food… even if it the food was moldy or five days old. This meant that anytime we got rid of food (even sometimes food from people’s plates!) we had to cover it with napkins in the garbage so she wouldn’t see it when she walked in. She would also make us carry the milk from another building all covered up because she didn’t want to show her guests that the milk was from a bottle. We were instructed from day one to tell guests that the milk was in fact from her (imaginary) cow. Talk about frustrating! And on top of all of that, the workers only made fifteen to twenty lair a day… That’s eight to twelve bucks for a sixteen hour shift, seven days a week!
After a few days of sixteen hour shifts we worked out a deal where we would help in the morning and evening with the meals (which I loved doing anyways since I got to chat with the tourists I was serving) and then do our own thing throughout the afternoon. Though we started to dislike the owner more and more as her dishonesty grew, we really loved the cook and the other people who worked there, and actually had a pretty good time in the kitchen. That being said, after a week we were pretty burned out and decided to hit the road once again, this time, in order to make it to the Black Sea.
One of the most memorable moments for me during our stay was when a group of five tourists who I had been serving for a few days (from Poland, Hungary, and Spain) pulled me aside and handed me this post card as a thank you. Though I had gotten “in trouble” a few times for chatting as I handed out plates, I felt that it was important to be friendly to the people I was serving since no one else who worked there was. And it paid off! By the end I got multiple addresses from people all over the world who invited me to stay at there place if and when we come through, plus, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a few new people while still doing my job. I’m petty sure if I ever worked at a restaurant full time they would just have to put me as the greeter because I’m way too friendly for any other job.
Sixteen hours of hospitality work showed me just how frustrating it can be at times because no matter how hard you work it seems that some people are never satisfied. Since the restaurant I was working at was way understaffed (another issue that really needed to be addressed) we were running around the whole time trying to give everyone what they needed, and by doing this, I got a glimpse into what it must be like for servers at restaurants all over the world. Next time you walk into a restaurant, make sure to truly thank your server because you may not realize how hard he or she is working to keep you happy. And a thank you can go a very long way in making someone’s stressful evening that much better.
Here I am with the wonderful cook, my “babushka” who would always come up in the morning and give me a big hug and a kiss in the cheek when I walked in. Though she is 56 years old, she certainly looks a lot older since long days such as these have taken a toll on her body. Thankfully she was quitting the week after we left (she had only worked there for a few months anyways, this restaurant has an unsurprisingly high turn over rate for employees) in order to spend more time with her grandchildren. Though she didn’t speak a word of English, she was the best example of anyone in the kitchen because when she wanted something done, say a bunch of tomatoes cut, she would take one, demonstrate, and then hand you the knife to continue. I do miss working with her now that we have left!
(P.S. My blog order got a little messed up, this one should have been before the post about cycling in the rain!)