As you know I’ve never really been one for writing letters or leaving painstaking, not very well received notes for my co-workers, but some things are simply better expressed in a written form. The fact is, you’re an industry mostly endured not adored.
Though in my most formative years, you gave me much more than I realized. From my very first days as a working teen, spent in a foot of steak juice and fat from the plates of overpriced main meals mostly produced for upper-class suburban jerks, all the way to my mid-twenties and the flaming bus, resultant day in court, subsequent ‘unrelated’ unlawful sacking, and later dealings with a complete psychotic and utter fuckwit, unidentifiable for defamation avoision purposes, I’m sure you can agree there’s never been a dull moment in our relationship.
There’s no question if you’re a bit of a socially shit teenager, hospitality is the best medicine because it exposes you to a melting pot of people from all backgrounds with all kinds of interests, and teaches you as much about yourself as it does about the utter dregs of humanity. I
am still was a pretty socially shit teenager, and thus you were my medicine. I made a bunch of great friends and for that I’m thankful.
The problem is, you were kind of like what I imagine flirting with the heroin horse is like: you punished me as equally as you showered me in sweet, sweet… cash. Sure, with penalty rates industry figures are still desperately trying to rip away, an unskilled worker can earn upwards of $50 an hour to sling piss over a bar on a public holiday – and that’s just dynamite. Though god forbid you should remember that the other 95% of a grunt workers year is generally spent at minimum wage, plus loadings, for working atrocious hours crammed with drunks, degenerates and gamblers.
There’s also plenty of mentally intensive small talk involved in hospitality.
But that’s only if the operator in question is actually working to within the letter of the law. Many don’t, and despite ongoing whitenoise about shit being “illegal” and “not possible”, it most certainly still is. Some of the illegality has to do with the razor thin margins hospitality survives on, but the fact is, you’ve always expected the world and given as little as you legally can. Then again, you could accuse most industries of that behaviour, but I digress; my punishment came not in the form of a paycheck.
From the earliest days, you were killing me in ways I couldn’t yet see or realise because I was young, stupid, and trying to get dat paper. But at some point I blinked and realised I was well into my 20s with a decade long hangover. As my man B.I.G. would say, “Mo money, mo problems”. But he was dead wrong – there is in fact no money and a shitload more problems.
My punishment came in the form of missing birthdays, nights out, and pretty well all other general debauchery – basically, a chance to grow-up with friends. You exist purely to suck that portion of a persons life away, in exchange for something they can’t take with them when they die.
I wish I could say things have improved with you by age 29, but I’d be lying.
Today I find myself still very much at the mercy of people I once shared an age bracket with; people who are attempting to exercise a degree of control over their life that I probably should have myself. Though the intrinsic problem of having a 95% instantly-sackable casual workforce is that some of them actually need to work sometimes for a place to function.
Little do they know that you are a harsh mistress, and you haven’t changed a bit. You expect their world to revolve around you, and they are going to provide their labour to you at any time you request – or wash out into jobs more suitable to their social needs.
Probably for the best.
But submissive employees that need you, in an economy with sky-high youth and unskilled unemployment, will begrudgingly put up with bullshit semi-legal pay and conditions to avoid becoming another Centrelink casualty. In a similar manner, I will wear the binge-drinking-related time-off requests of phone addicted millennials and end up working shifts I don’t want in a soul-sucking industry I despise, because I have conditioned myself to accept that shit is on the bottom of my shoe and to just keep on walking.
The extra corn embedded in the down trodden turd that is my life within you happens to resemble any media-influenced dietary requirement – the kinds I actively ignore as much as possible. For all of the coffees I’ve sent out with full cream milk instead of skim, not a single one has ever returned and nary a kilogram was gained (P.S. this behaviour happens everywhere). Similarly, if someone tells me “I’ll chance it” when I can’t confirm if something is entirely gluten free, they are an entirely fraudulent coeliac.
The gluten free fad exists only so the independent thought-vacant New Idea readership can tell everyone around them about how they feel “less bloated” and “bogged down” by avoiding something humans have eaten for basically our entire existence. I imagine most of the people going gluten free can’t even tell me what coeliac disease is, but hey.
In an industry like you, awash with a sea of entitled assholes that may as well literally slash my face with a rusty blade instead of doing whatever it was they intended to do, there are some small opportunities to get my own back. For example, as today’s cursed demon spawn sit at tables country-wide, heads firmly embedded within phones or iPads instead of light conversation, you can rest assured that any of their red lemonades are firmly doused to induce a high Keith Richards would envy. Similarly, the only element of your “extra hot” coffee that’s actually had the heat turned up is in fact the cup handle I just boiled, because extra hot coffee is not a thing – burnt coffee however, is. Have you ever heard of the word ‘psychosomatic’?
That said, the revelation I’ve burned ten years of irretrievable life force working for you could be considered pretty psycho in and of itself. You are like a vampire, and I’m pretty fucking woozy from having my blood sucked for so long.
To all of the snide, penny-pinching, quarter-strength hot chocolate ordering, organic latte swilling, New Idea-related gluten avoiding, selective vegetarian, degenerate gambler, welcome overstayer, alcoholic, decaf drinking, drug addict, or otherwise vapid excuses for a human I have dealt with over the years, let me assure you the compensation hasn’t ever been anywhere near adequate. Because of you, all that remains of me is a washed up husk of a man as sour as the Springfield lemon tree.
You’ve definitely always brought out the worst traits of my personality, but you eventually spewed up the thing that was going to get me all up out of you forever – and I’ll be receiving it on a parchment real soon like.
Thank fuck for that. Never talk to me or my son again.
Sam “The Hater of Everything” Mortimer
You can follow my relatively more professional pursuit of journalism over at Hit The Fan