5. When service becomes servitude: Lately the ‘family friendly’ restaurant I work at has come to resemble a crèche, where you literally have to wade through children to serve food. So there I was last Sunday, not 30 seconds into my shift and carrying two hot plates of parmy, when a young boy decided to use my most private of parts as a punching bag. Yes, I was punched in the vagina by a 5-year-old while his parents did nothing. Usually I can deal with pram traffic jams, spaghetti wars and up to seven women breast-feeding at once, but not this. Now I generally don’t mind kids – I fully intend on making a few of my own some day – but until then I want them nowhere near my vagina, and in that moment I felt like punting the little fucker.
4. Shitting where you eat: I know a couple that got together at the Christmas party, and shared a romantic co-worker courtship where fingertips touched for an instant as they both reached for the same beer tap. Lunchbreaks were taken together, and things got caught on CCTV. That same pair six months later now need to be rostered on at different times to avoid seeing each other. Many of us have that ‘what was I thinking?’ moment with exes, but in hospo it’s like a regret you have to revisit on a daily basis once things turn sour.
3. Cash-in-hand jobs for the ‘link: Youth Allowance is one testy mother, but definitely worth getting assaulted in the line at Centrelink every now and again, and if you can earn some extra cash on the sly while you’re at it, it becomes that much more lucrative. It takes me back to the days of my first café job when I got paid $9 an hour, and my pay came each week in a crumpled brown paper bag with my name on it. Since then I’ve found myself working in the shiftiest bars and clubs in Sydney, all in the name of the cash money flow.
2. When managers are your mates: Memories of this industry will rarely include the obnoxious and drunk customers, but those behind the bar. With the right colleagues, work can be like a Disneyland where there is no currency at all: you swap beers for the chefs with a delicious steak, you cut cake slices too big and even it up bite by bite, you turn your staffies drink into a staffies bender. As long as the boss doesn’t see, the world is yours.
1. Just for now: Whether it’s lime juice in paper cuts, the depressing locals, or just the sheer volume of vomit, we are able to endure the highs and lows of hospo in the belief that it won’t be permanent. For most of us, this is but a rite of passage that is only a temporary, gritty and exciting speed bump in our otherwise illustrious careers.