…I’m not surprised Sir, it was ground this morning!”
NEWS FLASH!! Contrary to popular British belief (please don’t ask me how we got onto to the subject), German ladies do NOT tend to sport hairy armpits, according to Florian. Indeed Florian goes on to claim that even the men around here shave their armpits! The former is in fact an outdated stereotype, much to our disappointment. Anyway, this is seriously digressing from the matter at hand! Back to the waitering, I seem to recall promising a narrative of my experiences as a German waiter so far in my last blog entry?! So, here goes…
Before I recall my memorable waiter experiences so far however, I must confess that up to now I’ve seriously underestimated how much effort it takes to run a hotel / restaurant! It is not your typical 9 to 5 job, no way, work times in fact vary constantly, especially in concordance with customer influx. It is also vitally important that ‘the customer is always right’ mentality prevails. So even if you’re just about ready to close the restaurant and call it a night (believe me, after a long shift you just want to go to bed or call the girlfriend), if one customer still remains, slowly drinking his Radler beer, you’ve got to wait for them!
Anyway, to help you envisage my surroundings at work (a bid to make my blog a little more interactive for you!), I’ve uploaded a number of photos. If there’s anything that you’d like to know, or for me to take a photo of in particular whilst I’m over here, please just let me know. So, these are two views of the main dining area in the hotel where I’ve already paced up and down approximately a million times, carrying drink trays and food back and forth. There are four other areas in the hotel where you can eat, two outside and two inside, and on a weekend all the tables are normally occupied. It gets hectic to say the least, but nothing that a touch of classic German efficiency can’t handle!
Ok, so I arrived on the Wednesday (21st), and to my surprise only the next day I was scheduled to begin work. I felt so unprepared! You may have clocked onto it already, but if there’s something that the Germans have absolutely no time for, then it’s fanny-ing about (as my mum says). Hence I was dropped into the deep end. Yes I admit that at times this past week it was really challenging, being that I’d never done any restaurant work previously, yet although I made mistakes (some really stupid Kit kind of mistakes) I learnt so much during those first few days. Now a week has past and I feel quietly confident in saying that in most things, except occasionally taking food orders, that I’m rather quite proficient! One of the more difficult things to learn was how to pour beers and various other drinks (it didn’t help that Bernd started me off behind the bar during the busiest afternoon of the week!), and as you can imagine at first I poured lots of beers that had a head to liquid ratio of 3:1. 4 hours and 30 Euros worth of wasted beer later however I was pouring 3 drinks at a time, tap dancing and singing the German national anthem all at the same time. OK, so maybe I exaggerated a little but if you do fancy a cheeky half yourself then I can definitely make it for you! As a brief interlude I really must thank Bernd who kept extremely calm and focussed when I was making all of these mistakes; despite all the business that was happening at that time he still found ways to help me, explain things slowly and keep everybody happy. LEGEND.
Pouring beers is definitely one of my favourite jobs, however it’s quite hard to remember all of the different variations I must say, that’s where I need to improve. I don’t spend all of my working time with a litre glass in my hand if that was the impression you were beginning to get though! I’m also constantly presenting people with their food, announcing in loud and clear German what it is as I approach the table, for instance I regularly declare “Der Rumpsteak! ” I’ve been taking drinks orders (I get the impression that the Germans drink quite a bit, even the women love their beer), laying the tables constantly, participating in lots of cleaning, and most recently taking the bill from people. NOTE: In Germany there’s a different decorum when it comes to paying the bill: basically when the waiter approaches you simply say how much you’re going to pay (tip included), for example Funfzehn Euro, and I then proceed to give them their change. With an evening shift work doesn’t finish until around 11, but the more you practise (the cleaning routine for example) the quicker everything becomes. I’ve got to say that working as a team is really important, whenever somebody has a problem then everybody else pitches in and the problem is quickly resolved. Although I’ve only been here a week it feels like a lot longer, but in my opinion that’s a good thing. I feel like my colleagues are more like family and friends, especially since I’m living with Bernd and his family, and the generosity that he’s shown so far makes me feel very fortunate. I’m worked hard, but I earn my keep and it’s all a learning experience!
My comprehension and use of the German language is really coming on, and seeing as it’s only been a week I can see why people say that you’re almost fluent after 8 months! I still find some words really hard to pronounce, but I guess that’s the same as all Germans calling a village a willage (sounds really stupid every time!) I’m beginning to familiarise myself with words and phrases that are exclusive to this Franconian area, for example, many people around these parts greet each other by saying “Gruβ Gött” (literally means ‘Greeting God’), however if you said this anywhere else you’d probably be stared at. I’ve heard Steffan and Christian say zwoh instead of zwei and if you want to say ‘look here,’ then it’s more common to hear “Guck mal” rather than “Schau mal.”
Luckily enough I’ve got the Thursday and Friday off, and there’s lots more to write about from this week, so I’ll be blogging again tomorrow! Next times edition includes a story about a broken roof and the herculean effort it took to repair as well as my first experience with D.I.Y.