Thursday, June 14, 2007

Indie Rock Chick From Outer Space

Went for a trial day yesterday working in a corporate cafeteria. It's the kind of place The Dreaded One and I used to run, only this one is grotty and soulless. In fact I almost laugh at how unclean and untidy it is. I'm amazed that such a high profile bank would allow their head office cafeteria to be in this state. I realise just what a good job The Dreaded One and I had done with our shiny place. Ours was full of vibe, happy customers, new music you don't hear on the radio, the smell of gourmet food.

The guy who runs this outfit obviously did that thing where you bring a newbie onto your turf and you suddenly see things through their eyes. He apologised about it being such a pig sty as he rubbed his fists into his reddened eyes. He also introduced me to his assistant and I was relieved at her appearance; it was as unkempt as everything else in the place, but kinda cool in that indie rock chick way.

Both their personalities seemed pretty chilled, so that was good. And the filth? I'd just clean by stealth.

The day was all right. Few alarm bells. Food hygeine and stock rotation didn't appear to be on the agenda. Their pricing and some of their systems were weird. I was a little embarrassed about some of the food we were serving. And Indie Rock Chick had a muttered running commentary about what she was currently in the process of doing, and I couldn't decide if it was endearing or creepy.

Music was a big topic of conversation and I dunno, I was lowering my standards but I need a regular job for a while. End of the day the manager asks if I want the job. I say yes, mainly because after getting through one trial day I can't be bothered lining up another with the hope that I might get somewhere better.

"Cool," the manager says. "Indie Rock Chick likes you, and that's the main thing."

Indie Rock Chick is all smiles as she says, "Yeah. Can we keep him?"

I leave with the impression that this is an outfit who won the contract somehow, but they don't really care about it all that much. Their boardroom functions are sandwiches and cheap biscuits. I almost do burst out laughing when I see the poor quality of the bickies they're plating up at one stage. I didn't realise catering this bad still existed. Clearly these are people who just want to get through the day and get the hell out of there. I'm not sure how long I will be able to stick this out. I know I will keep looking for something else, but for now...

This morning, the manager doesn't show. Indie Rock Chick collects me at the front lobby and she seems a little stressed. "Just the two of us this morning," she mutters in a foreboding tone. I shrug. This is not a busy place. I saw what she called The Lunch Rush and it was a joke. At one point during the previous lunch rush, an elevator opened and she muttered urgently to me, "Here they come. There's nothing then they come in hordes," as all four suits made their way to the counter.

Turns out the manager stayed up drinking and watching the football last night and was hungover. Got to love that professionalism. It appears to have put Indie Rock Chick in a bit of a mood (not the least because he does this all the time and everything is always left up to her). Suddenly everything I do is wrong. I am not moving fast enough. I just don't understand how busy it can get around here. I need to be spoken to in a condescending tone.

I remain chilled because there is nothing, as far as I can tell, actually wrong. A few customers trickle in and are dealt with, but the few minutes it has taken to serve them has apparently thrown time itself out of whack and we are never going to recover and be ready on time.

I feel a tremor of concern run through my chilled mood because this kind of behaviour works itself up into a state. I've seen it happen. Mountains and mole hills. It's fucking ridiculous and doesn't achieve a damn thing.

Suddenly we are swamped with, ooh, six customers? And Indie Rock Chick is in a total flap. She's asking for everyone's orders at once, stuffing up orders and generally totally sabotaging what would otherwise be a very peaceful and orderly operation.

I watch in awe as she starts telling one perplexed customer that she simply cannot cope with all the pressure of setting up by herself and trying to train people.

Then she chews me out in front of customers I suspect have witnessed this kind of thing before. She gives me some condescending, snippy lecture about lifting my game, and I'm sorry but customers present or not, I'm not having that. I tell her to calm down.

"I am calm," she snarls.

"No you're not. You are stressing and it's not helping things at all."

"I'm stressing because it's stressful!"

And then I can't quite recall what is said but I know the two of us are having a proper go at each other while bewildered customers look on, and it's right as the hungover manager makes his disheveled appearance.

On the other side of the glass partition separating the kitchen from the service area, the manager has asked what the problem is and Indie Rock Chick is all tears and waggly arms as she storms from one end of the kitchen to the other Picking Things Up and Putting Them Back Down again.

I'm not sure what just happened, but I am sure it's not going to happen again. I think it also goes some way to explaining why all the customers kept asking what happened to former short-term employees.

Manager comes out after sending Indie Rock Chick outside for a cigarette and asks how I am. I tell him that I am fine, but that I don't think it's going to work out. He looks a little disappointed, but resigned.

I help out for a while longer and things calm down. I ask if Indie Rock Chick is okay even though it's clear she's going to ignore my presence until I go. She says yeah and gives in and apologises quite a bit. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I do know that I don't want to deal with it.

It's lunch time now. I imagine the customers asking Indie Rock Chick, "Where's that guy you were introducing us to? I thought he was going to settle in."

I wrote another song last night. I am enjoying writing songs. I had intended to show Indie Rock Chick my song to see if she could use her musical skills to do anything with it. Now instead I am going to write a song about her.

"Oh I-hindie Rock Chick,
Who'd guess behind that sweet face,
Lurks a demonic alien,
Indie Rock Chick From Outer Space..."

More later.


Kathryn said...

Oh dear. Nothing like the trials and tears of co-workers in a food setting. Been there.

I wonder what alien rock chicks look like.

Quick said...

This one looked sweet and kind, and maybe she is both. But she also a freaky flappy armed stress head who needs to chill the fuck out and maybe get a real volume job. Very weird experience.

Black T shirt, tatts and a pierced nose don't make you cool.

Kathryn said...

It isn't very uplifting, though, to be in a tense and somewhat neglected atmosphere. I'm glad you're not working there but hopefully something comes along soonish.

She sounds sad and miserable. Am torn between pity and non-chalance.

Mel said...

Hilarious. But tragic for you. What a complete and utter nutter (IHCfOS) - I work with someone like that, who at the drop of a sheet of paper can burst into tears sobbing into her hand about how 'trees died to make that sheet and now we're disrespecting the tree who died ...'
My expression generally says 'WTF?'
and my mouth follows with something like 'Kill 'em all, and their little dogs too'
Sorry it happened but at least you were inspired musically.

Quick said...

Kathryn - tell me about it. It's why I bailed. Check your junkmail folder for a more detailed reply :)

It was very odd Mel. Kind of felt like I'd wandered into the episode of a sitcom. There was even a hokey little light box that was not switched on. The place was called "The Lunch Box." Title for a sitcom or what?

Hang on... a sitcom... hmm.

Margarita Milonguita said...

Put that little psycho on Cipromil and tell her to stop listening to My Chemical Romance.

Quick said...

Roger that, MM. One week on and it still strikes me as one of the more bizarre encounters I've had. Very weird.