I have recently started working at a beautifully quaint restaurant called Blanchette on Brick Lane (there is another location in Soho). It’s been an emotional roller coaster in that I am not entirely comfortable in a busy restaurant environment as my only other waitressing job was in a failing farm-to-fork establishment in Wilton , Connecticut where I had more time to faff over each table vs 8 tables at once ordering 3 small plates per person, topping up of wine etc etc . It is oddly stimulating but makes my brain hurt. Anyway, I find it challenging but am slightly out of my comfort zone (which is never a bad thing).
It is rare for me to find myself in a situation where I do not feel comfortable enough to be myself- and yet at Blanchette, I am the black sheep. I am the only native English speaking worker (the owners are French as you would expect, my manager is from Czech and the bar staff and servers are from various Spanish speaking countries), which is amazing but I find myself constantly lost in translation as my American accent is hard to understand when they have been learning to speak English around English people. I often have to repeat myself several times especially over the buzz of the restaurant. This makes humour slightly hard as a) a lot of the things I perceive to be funny use some sort of English slang or are only perceptive to English persons (i.e. an Essex couple that were dining the other night were SO typically Essex it made me chuckle on the inside, and yet went straight over the heads of my colleagues). My usual quirky chatty manner seems to be lost in all the faff of wine pouring and table clearing. And thus I have now come to feel not-quite-myself at work, which is something I haven’t experience since my Wilton waitressing days (my theory is that there is no bar between me and the customers therefor I am more exposed and vulnerable (look at me, amateur psychologist)).
Perhaps those who work in restaurants are programmed to be more anal- they must have impeccable attention to detail and an efficient brain prone to multitasking. My time spent behind a bar (an accumulative 5 years) has led me to believe that anyone working with alcohol loves alcohol and a party, making them more fun loving in nature and able to take the piss out of themselves and others in a jovial manner.
My personality favours the latter job description. I enjoy my job as I am being paid £9 an hour, an unheard of amount in my job history, and that it is a challenge. The hours are more sociable and I am learning new skills.
However different my colleagues and I may be, I would not care. I am there to work and exchange pleasantries and nothing more. But there is one girl in particular , an Argentinian lady, who is, for lack of better words, is totally harshing my vibe.
She’s undoubtedly worked in restaurants for years. She has one of those little 5 foot bodies where they are agile and here, there and everywhere with no nervous movements. You can see her eyes constantly working, slightly squinted as she scrutinised a situation and assesses why you’re not working as fast as she wants you too. It’s quite unsettling. Perhaps I am slightly envious- if I am uncomfortable in an environment I have lots of nervous energy where my body works slighty faster than brain and sometimes I awkardly step in the wrong direction, or pivot 3 times whilst my brain tries to assess what to do next. Needless to say, I don’t think she likes me very much because I don’t work up to her standards, and I’m starting to not like her very much for even having standards in the first place.
On Friday I left work feeling deflated. I’m not used to working in an environment where I don’t feel comfortable with those who I work with. It’s too loud and we’re too busy in the restaurant to make small talk throughout the shift so by the end we’ve all been weaving around each other, not saying anything to one another. To top it off, my journey home that night was longer than expected. 2 night buses that took well over an hour, in the freezing cold and wind no less. The next day I woke up and decided to cut myself a break. Work is work, I rationalised. Go there to do your job, get paid and come home. That’s that.
I arrived that evening with a good mentality and got through the shift hazard free. Argentinian girl and I hadn’t had many interactions so that was a plus. I was feeling better today than the day before. I was 2 days into my course of antibiotics, and we were offered another glass of wine post-shift (I guarantee we won’t be offered a glass of wine for the next 3 months of working there, let alone TWO in two days, but nonetheless I was a good girl and refused).
“Why can’t you drink?” Asked the bartender, looking slightly concerned. I opened my mouth to answer when Eugenia screams,
“Because she’s got chlamydia, HAHHAHHAHAHA.”
I can not type the onomatopoeic cackle that came out of this girls mouth. Let me indeed clarify that I do not have chlamydia. I have a bacteria gum infection where it is incessant and am now being referred to the hospital for blood testing to see if I have a systemic infection.
My only quick response was to look at her with a sarcastic side glance and smile and say, “You got me.” I got my things and ran to the last overground.
At first I thought maybe she was trying to have friendly bants. But the more it went over in my head, the more I realised how QUICK her response was. No time needed to think. Just, “Yup, gonna say this girls got chlamydia”. Bare in mind it was only my 3rd week. The remark was met with nervous laughter or none at all, and the conversation moved swiftly on. She didn’t seem to be embarrassed that she’d just blatantly showed in front of the whole staff that she’s a bit of an idiot. That is the type of joke you say to a really close mate, in front of your really close mates. Not to a coworker you blantaly don’t like, in front of coworkers you bitch about behind their backs also. Oh well. I feel slightly smug in the fact that she’s a) embarrassed herself and b) that it wasn’t all in my head, that she actually doesn’t like me and now the whole staff knows it. Rise above and carry on, eh.
I’ve yet to see her since the incident but needless to say, I am excited for her 1 week holiday to Argentina coming up next week…… No bad vibes allowed.
(P.S. The closest picture (cover photo) I have of me as a waitress is in my lovely Pajama Brunch t-shirt at the failing farm-to-fork restaurant in Wilton, CT. I had to wear that every Sunday whilst save up for my travels LOL)