Monday, 13 August 2018

Darcie // Kitchen Assistant

In some cruel irony, I started the job on international workers day, at a recently refurbished and gentrified pub. I had no official contract (that I was given, at least) and spent anywhere between 10 - 30 hours a week scrubbing dishes, making coleslaw and burning burger buns.

My co workers seemed friendly enough and the chef seemed… manageable, until the opening night. The kitchen was closed so I decided to stick around for free food and alcohol, and his wife got chatting with me. Again, she seemed friendly enough, until we got onto the subject of how they met. Working shifts at the county jail. Weighing up the options, I decided that I hate pigs more than I love free drinks and I left.

I’m already a slacker, so this pushed me over the edge; I would use walks to the stock room to text friends, and often times was left alone in the kitchen, where one time I even bought in The Coming Insurrection to reread for dead shifts. I tried to get gossip out of my coworkers, and found out that he was disgustingly sexist (no surprise, all chefs are, in my experience) and refused to engage in conversation with him.

It was a month in before he found out about my girlfriend, after he had tried to banter with a co worker, Jay, cop boss claimed I’d been “up all night shagging men” and Jay pointedly asked about her. It threw him off and he was quiet around me for almost 2 weeks.

Finally, he was ready to discuss the Gay Question, and boy did he go all out. What’s it like to be gay? What was coming out like? Do your family hate you? Why do you need Pride? And my all time favourite: Why do lesbians cut their hair short? (My hair is long, idiot, and butches are wonderful). Obviously, every answer of mine just pushed him further down the rabbit hole of “I’m okay with the gays, but…” and we wound up talking about his views. Apparently homophobia is only in existence in Islamic countries, addiction is not an illness and homeless people have brought it upon themselves. Every argument I had against this shit storm was reputed with “I’ve worked as a cop. I’ve seen things” which I guess if you’re a devout bigot, it's hard to give that up.

Occasionally I would work with the other kitchen assistant, a catering student called Sadie, and we would spend our shifts discussing him. I found out that he’d been planning to fire me, and a number of other employees from the beginning as he didn’t like us. The main problem being that he wasn’t the actual boss, just an entitled prick. This conversation was ratted out by one of the bar staff (that he’d tried to fire) and I guess that made him angry too.

Jay was eventually fired because he took too many holidays, and a week later it was my turn. Apparently dawdling and using my phone during down time isn’t productive. They explained it to me as this, making sure to clarify many, many times that it wasn’t due to who I was as a person (/a Gay) and just because cop boss “didn’t want to shout” at me, and I was escorted off-premises. A week later when they wanted my uniform back I handed it in at the bar, but one of the staff mentioned cop boss was outside with his family, so I decided I wasn’t going to leave in shame.

Practically all the bar staff were lazing in the garden, the place is so rarely occupied (which is what you get for trying to gentrify a working class area and adding £2 to the price of a beer). Every one of them smiled and said nice things to me, until I got to cop boss. He was balancing desserts for him and his kids on his arms, and asked for my assistance, and I deliberately misheard at least 3 times before helping him, giving him my uniform, and leaving. I’ve never felt more powerful after walking out of a job knowing the rest of the staff know what a dickhead he is.

It’s been 2 months and they still haven’t sent me payslips or the P45 I’m due.