So confident was I, in my last dedication to you, I would soon be exiting your gluten-free embrace. Confident, with a dash of printed arrogance and two natural sweeteners – one, in the form of a printed parchment, and the other; my still vaguely-youthful and uncharacteristic optimism that a qualification might actually get me out of your shit-chute.
Unfortunately in the eight months since I last wrote you, as much as I’ve tried to write myself out of a proverbial paper-bag of near-poverty, waves and waves of disconnected affluence have simultaneously eroded my remaining will to exist, and shat out plaster to reinforce my cave walls of self-loathing. I knew the media market was a dead man walking in this country before I started the degree, so I guess ultimately I did this to me just as much as you did.
With 11 years in the game, I’ve wanted to hang-up my bar blade for at least six of them. For you see, when very dotty old people take 15 years to rifle through various bags to find their wallet or purse, and then painstakingly search that item for the separatable cardholders that contain as many receipts as I have alcohol-drowned brain cells (because causality), I am often just seconds from engaging a permanent thousand-yard stare.
Rest assured, every group of posh mums stepping out of their Range Rovers to talk about their kids achievements over a 10am post-school drop-off prosecco only serve to fuel my disdain for humans in the same way their partners’ platinum AMEX’s fuel their soulless daily existence of empty extravagance.
An excerpt from the ‘arts, advertising and media’ section on Seek for the entire state of Queensland on one day last week, for those of you playing at home.
Now, I am but one lemon-lime-bitters away from a meltdown at any stage of my day. One almond milk latte away from bottling up my own tears, which are similarly not capable of being a ‘milk’, and selling them as a milk. One request for the toilet key away from unlocking my brain’s ejector seat. One “I see your menu, but substitute my own” from deconstructing each of my limbs to serve you instead. One extra hot coffee request from scolding myself until only my skeleton remains holding your sun-scorched coffee. One casually laughed-off, exceedingly-obnoxious “that’ll be okay won’t it?” request away from not being at all okay myself. One uncommissioned restaurant furniture movement from breaking some of it on you like some sort of WWE move. One free-range child away from instituting a labour camp so they can do something productive to actually make me money while you aren’t watching them.
In my defence, I have to resort to actions like that now my already bottom-rung pay is being slashed to appease business owners and Liberal party donors under the guise of some trickle-down bullshit that will apparently result in extra jobs in the hospitality, pharmacy and retail industries. Here’s the actual reality: this wage cut will steal from society’s most vulnerable week-to-week workers, still working the shitty hours you graduated from, while you continue to sip at an almond milk vanilla latte on a Sunday or public holiday you otherwise get to enjoy freely on a liveable salary. And besides, if it’s a small business they probably aren’t paying superannuation either, despite its supreme illegality.
There will be no additional jobs on account of the saved wages – it will simply stay in the pockets of the kind of boomers that ask me for an EFTPOS receipt in some vague attempt to balance their running digital balance like a chequing account in the year 1980. Holiday surcharges exist to pay for unfortunate jerks like me to answer breathtakingly-arrogant questions like, “Aren’t they (penalty rates) gone anyway?”.
That question during the recent batch of public holidays I worked primarily implied that I wasn’t worth the money I was being paid to stand there and produce a coffee for the presumably affluent gentlemen in question on his day off. I’m simply not worth anything until I’m not there at a beck and call.
Remember, you are no more special than I. I just happen to still be the meat in a shit sandwich of conceited customers and disengaged employers that like driving into the eye of the storm with their hands off the steering wheel. Hospitality is an industry for micro-managers, and dealing with shit managers is like catching a cold for the first time in three years – they annihilate your life force.
So if you can imagine being caught in a cyclone of oft-law-breaking, disconnected employers that skirt workers rights while paying you bottom dollar, and tunnel-visioned consumers asking exceedingly stupid questions on a quarter-hourly basis while not appreciating your time or effort, that’s what it’s like being in a service industry.
I’m seemingly allergic to money like my New Idea-inspired gluten-avoiding friends are allergic to gluten: I’m not, but somehow I am.