Returning from a 3 week European adventure with two of my best friends I am quite sure that I have in fact found myself. I can’t be 100% sure but I think that ‘myself’ was hiding somewhere between the 3rd and 4th bar on one particular night out in Prague. This is it, I am now enlightened to the wonders of the world, I have climbed castles, jumped in lakes and have flirted (badly) with a blonde Danish medical student. However, on following a screaming toddler down some Ryanair steps I suddenly become very aware of the lack of lakes, castles and more importantly, tall Scandinavian boys present at East Midlands airport, or in fact in the wider East Midlands area.
My phone buzzes in my hand I am quite sure it will be aforementioned boy demanding I fly straight out to Denmark to meet his family and announce our upcoming engagement…it isn’t. It’s my boss reminding me I am working the next day and the 6 days following it. Although I hate to admit it an ember of relief flickers inside me, having taken my credit card on my travels with me it’s impending statement was weighing heavy on my mind.
“On following a screaming toddler down some Ryanair steps I suddenly become very aware of the lack of lakes, castles and more importantly, tall Scandinavian boys present at East Midlands airport, or in fact in the wider East Midlands area”
I’ve worked part time as a waitress since I was 15, only stopping briefly when my boss realized I wasn’t strictly supposed to be working at 15 (I returned a fortnight later with strict instructions to ‘distract with the specials menu’ if the topic of my age was ever brought up). I can’t say I’ve loved every moment of it, flashbacks to swearing chefs and flying petite pois send shivers up my spine. However, I am so grateful that my 15-year-old desire to make the transition from New Look to Topshop was great enough to pursue a part time job and it’s minimum wage.
I’m very aware that my job as a waitress was relatively cushy compared to many teen’s first time jobs, however a job is a job and, at times, balancing 12 hour working weekends and 12 GCSEs wasn’t easy. The experience taught me about sacrifice and balance. Sometimes I got that balance woefully wrong, something multiple hung-over Sunday lunch shifts made me all too aware of. It also taught me how respect and kindness towards colleagues of all ages and from all walks of life can open up a world of friendships that go way beyond shared loathing of certain customers.
Most of all though, my experiences as a waitress have taught me the value of hard work, and the rewards it can bestow. Be that a cold glass of rosé after a long shift, a new pair of joni jeans or an extra five pounds from a couple thrilled to hear of your successful A Level results. Wherever my career takes me in the future I will take with me the lessons learned from seemingly never ending Friday nights and will take heart from the belief that nothing is ever as bad as dropping a steak and ale pie in someone’s lap.