Emma in Euroland

Tea, Cake and Travel: a year abroad in Germany

The late nights have started.

As we approach the end of the first week of freshers, I think we are all tired. For a girl who is usually in bed at 10, working a 10pm to 3am shift is pretty hard work. My first night shift was last night and was not without a few teething problems. The hot holder for the chips wouldn’t work, we had no takings bag and no beans. I was working with Zoe though and we quickly worked out that without beans, we could just store the chips where they would have been. Only one person in the whole evening requested a topper anyway and it wasn’t beans.

It’s just a little frustrating. Yes, I was shown ‘what to do’ on Thursday night for an hour. That didn’t involve what to do with money at the end of the night, when we closed, any ongoing details, only what we sold and how we would sell it. Having worked at the union before, not only was I able to guess the answers to a lot of unanswered questions, but I knew the person to ask if not. I don’t know how comfortable I would have felt if I hadn’t had that experience and I’m not going to be there every night.

Zoe is also a great girl and we had a laugh. We were dancing and pointing out the ridiculous amount of Freshlings that were wearing shorts which left their bums hanging out the bottom. It doesn’t look good on anyone, don’t try it.

The main worry was how much we actually sold. Most people didn’t know there would be burgers. Even those who weren’t Freshers wouldn’t have known because I don’t think they sold food last year. Most people in a club don’t want burgers and chips, particularly if they can’t see anyone else eating them. Greasy food is something you get at the end of the night, on the way home, when you’ve stopped drinking and dancing, you feel peckish and the warmth and light of a fish bar is alluring. We covered our wages and were in profit, definitely, but not by much.

The easiest way to cut expenses would be to reduce it to only one person working but that wouldn’t work. You need someone to be able to keep an eye on food and someone to keep an eye on customers. They always seemed to need attention at the same time. Drunk people don’t want to wait 5 minutes for a burger or 4 minutes for chips. It all needs to be ready and that requires one person on each job. Aside from the practical side, a 5 hour shift in the middle of the night, on your own, would be absolutely dire. If you could sit there reading a book or watching iplayer, it wouldn’t be too bad but that would not be an option. In the long periods where noone showed any interest, you would just have to stand there. I didn’t feel too tired as we were working: we kept busy. We cleaned and organised and prepared for any busy moments so we could serve quickly and encourage all their friends to buy things too. On your own you would just want to sleep.

I don’t know exactly what our margins are but I know we didn’t make a lot of money. When people came in to see how we were doing, it was something we laughed about together but the smiles didn’t come so easily. We know that we need to sell stuff or it won’t work. 5 hours pay each is a massive expense when you only sell £100 of stock.

I’m working again today, in the day and in the night. I am shattered already and not looking forward to it but I’m just trying to think about the pay packet next week and the money that will be in there that I desperately need. Once term starts, the truth is that I won’t be any less busy but I’ll be busy with university and revision and assignments, things I can organise in my own time and do in my pajamas at home with as much tea as I like. These next few days will be the worst. I have the worst shifts in the highest concentration. When I get into bed on Sunday night, it will be done. Boy, I can’t wait!

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