Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ probably isn’t about my waitressing trial shift, but also it might have been, I don’t know because I haven’t read it

 Yesterday, I had a trial work shift at a fancy restaurant on the high street. I have never worked before. I arrived ten minutes early in a waistcoat and and a sense of spirit that was shattered faster than a femur at Alton Towers.

The manager gives me the tour. She points at different butters and relishes, saying words that sound attractive in French, but probably translates to English as something boring like horseradish or semen. Also, there are different kinds of mustards. In my family, we have ketchup. Even then, this comes with the terrifying commitment of having to precisely calculate how much ketchup you will be using with dinner. If you overestimate, my mother, sporting a thrifty clothes peg in her hair instead of a hairpin, will say something like “that tomato sauce costs more than my wine!” and then you have to scrape what you don’t use back into the bottle, whilst she solemnly sips Lidl Pinot out of a wine glass also fashioned out of clothes pegs.

The manager then takes me into the kitchen and tells me to start by drying a bunch of plates and knives and forks. Oh boy, they’ll be dry. You bet. Dryer than Oscar Wilde’s wit, just you wait, madam! There is a sad man washing up behind me. I start to ask him where things go and he doesn’t answer. Pablo The Chef explains that the man only speaks Portuguese, which confuses me because I thought Portuguese and Spanish were the same thing.

“Do you speak Portuguese?”- Pablo The Chef

“…no” – Me (the ellipses referring to me remembering a funny toy that my dad once brought back from Portugal, where if you bang it really hard on the floor it says “hasta la vista, baby”)

I dry things once, and then dry again, and then Man Who Only Speaks Portuguese hands me another tray of cutlery to do, but also inside the tray is a chicken leg and a bit of Oyster trails, and I begin to doubt his proficiency in the field of cleanliness. Pablo The Chef comes over and we have the following exchange

“Can I get you anything?” – Me, look at me go! I’m talking to someone, a person who works in the real world! Look at me! What repartee can I respond to the words that next come out of his mouth, get ready, brain! Here we go! Get thinking of stuff to say when its our turn, its coming up! Get warmed up neurons, we’ll need your services soon! Fuck me I’m glad I took my Omega Three tablets today!! Maybe we could ask where they come from, is it in Europe! I hope it is!!

“Yes. Do you have a gun?” – Pablo The Chef, perhaps practicing lines for one of the more serious youth crime focussed episodes of Dora the Explorer

“Hahaha! Ha?” – Me, wondering whether my £27k piece of paper BA would go to better use flossing bits of oyster out of cutlery.

MA or MD? The Moral Struggle of the Graduate

If you haven’t taken MD before, I’m not too sure how it works, but it feels like all the potential serotonin that your brain creates to make you feel happy is harvested and injected into your brain in one massive hit. Like, you’re deliriously happy, and you have no idea why.

And then you find yourself awake at 7am the next day wondering why you are uncontrollably weeping to videos on YouTube of Japanese men preparing miniature food.

On the night you might have conversations with yourself like

  • I’m happy but I know I’m not really happy
  • It’s just chemicals in my brain telling me I’m happy
  • I know deep down that I’m not happy
  • My bladder is full but I don’t have to pee
  • Everyone is looking at me
  • Why do I taste blood in my mouth

And then suddenly you’re dancing amongst forty people staring at strobe lights to music that makes you feel like your head is actually wrapped in one of those giant keyboards they have in huge department toy stores, and there’s a tiny little man inside your brain methodically running up and down the keys. Also he’s wearing cleats. Also, somewhere there is someone playing really bad drum and bass.

MD makes me super friendly, but also I need to dance. I spent a lot of time occupying myself grinding. Sometimes people, but mostly my teeth, against the insides of my bleeding cheeks.

I was on top form that night. Saying things left right and centre. Some of the hits included

  • Have you seen the lights
  • Aren’t the lights cool
  • I’m on MD

Sometimes, in return, I even listened to people, and was heard by probably none. I even attempted to approach someone from my class I recognised.

“Hey, what are your plans for next year?” -Me, good start.

She looks blankly back at me. She doesn’t know who I am. I have been in the same class as this girl for three years. Three years.

“I study film and literature!” – Me, desperate

“Oh, in the year below?” – Girl, possibly frigid

“I’m on MD” – Me, on MD

I seek out my best friend who is desperately tearing out her hair in an attempt to scalp herself. We both agree we’re probably having a great time.