Chef – Shit in me…. 6.
Me – Excuse me.
Chef – Shit in me. Go go.
Me – Table 6, yes?
Chef – Go go.
I go and carry a plate of raw fish to table 6.
Me – Hello. Here is your order.
Customer – Sorry, are there any nuts in the katsu sauce?
Me – Erm, I don’t think so…
Customer – Are you sure?
Of course, I’m not sure. I’ve been here for one day, and I’ve never heard of katsu sauce.
Me – No. Let me check.
I ask the waitress and she walks over to the table.
Waitress – Definitely not.
Customer – Great, thanks.
Waitress walks over to me…
Waitress – When they ask you, tell ‘no.’ It doesn’t have. Otherwise, people won’t buy.
Me – But, she’s allergic.
Waitress – Bottle no have ingredients, I don’t know for sure. No one die from sauce.
Oh, well, if she dies, then we’ll know that it definitely does contain nuts.
Waitress – You can drink all the drinks you want, from the bar. Get coke.
Me – I’m OK.
Waitress – You need sugar, have 7up. It’s good for you.
Me – OK.
Recently I started working in a Japanese restaurant, serving sushi to people in North London. Why? Well, I don’t know. It’s across the road from where I’m staying and I really do want to learn Japanese (huge secret – it’s like the easiest language ever and people are super impressed if you bang out of couple of sentences). I’ve never worked in bar or restaurant so I feel a bit like its rite of passage that I’ve never had. Until now.
Chef – Shit in me, 9.
Me – OK.
I grab the plate. And quickly notice one of the waiters before. He is the only one with a manageable name.
Me – John, what’s this?
John – Shit on me. It’s for table 9.
Now it’s gone from shit in me to shit on me…. is this progress?
Me – Yeah, see I know that’s not exactly how you say it, coz what you guys are saying sounds like something else.
John – Oh. (blatantly not listening)
Me – I’m gonna take this to 9 and then can you write down what this is and I’ll figure out to say it.
John – OK.
It should be noted, I’m the only white person in the entire restaurant. Everyone is from China apart from one waiter (who I have a little bit of crush on) who is from Burma. There are absolutely no Japanese people, no one has ever been in Japan or speaks a word of Japanese. It’s hilarious when posh London twats come in and say things like Kon’nichiwa… thinking they are so cultured.
Waitress – Table 3 is a whore.
Me – Yeah, her outfit is not becoming at all, is it?
Waitress – She eat 4 portions of prawn tempura.
Me – Oh, a horse.
Waitress – Yeah. She is whore.
Me – Yeah, she is a horse. 4 portions, wow.
Waitress – Go clean the toilet. Every evening you clean toilet. Yellow bag and yellow gloves are at the back.
OK. I’m just gonna be honest with everyone. There is something mysteriously erotic about cleaning a toilet and I CANNOT be the only person that has ever said that. It’s hard to explain and obviously I don’t mean it’s sexy if there’s shit on walls, or a big floater in the loo or a nappy in the bin. These toilets are reasonably classy and smell mildly of mint. Maybe, it’s a submissive thing, or a porn I watched that’s stuck in the back of my brain, I don’t know. I don’t want to make a career out of cleaning toilets, but at least now when I see those toilet attendants in nightclubs (you know those annoying people who spray you with aftershave, give you a fucking lollipop, hand you a towel and then offer to wipe your arse) and they ask for a tip, I don’t have to feel bad when I say ‘no.’ “I’m one of you fellow toilet attendants… LET’S US JOIN OUR BLEACHES TOGETHER AND CELEBRATE….
Several days later …
Me – So, how long have you lived in London?
Waitress – 14 years.
Fuck me and your English is shite.
Me – Oh, wow. Your English is great .
Waitress – I know.
Me – Do you speak Mandarin?
Waitress – A little, but speak Cantonese. Every here speak Cantonese.
Me – Oh right. I tired to learn Mandarin…
Waitress – Very hard.
Me – It is, I was actually in China.
Waitress – Oh nice. Clean the toilet.
Me – OK.
Chef – 9, now.
Me – Table 9?
Chef – NOW.
Me – Don’t shout at me, I was only asking.
I bring out the plate.
The greatest thing about being a waiter is people don’t really notice you. You come and go and drop the plates and bowls, refill the green tea, clean the table, set the table. But the people at the table, rarely stop their conversation unless you ask them something. So, you get to eavesdrop on the most hilarious stories. As a writer, this job is dynamite.
Customer 1 – And then, I just hit her again and told him to leave.
Customer 2 – Oh, my God.
Customer 1 – Sorry, can we have more soy sauce please?
Me – Wasabi prawns..?
Customer – Yes, thanks……………… and he was wearing my bra. I couldn’t believe it.
I go to the bar .
Me – Do you ever listen to the conversations?
Waitress – No. Boring. Difficult to understand.
Me – I think its fun. Like OK, you see table 2.
Waitress – Ha.
They keep saying ‘Ha,’ which I’ve understood to mean yes.
Me – They are on a date. It’s a first date. I know that. I don’t know how they met but I’m going to guess it was online … Tinder or something.
She looks over very curious and starts smiling. I’m cracking her, I think to myself. One by one, I’m gonna knock all these Asians down and make them love me. The chefs may prove more of a challenge.
I hear the bell and run to the kitchen to get the order.
Chef – William… table 5.
Me – OK. Thank you. I’m Shane.
I take the plate. The bell goes again.
Chef – William, 6.
Me – I’m Shane.
Chef 2 – No, you William. You a prince.
Me – What?
Chef – Please, please, thank you, thank you, thank you, excuse, please, sorry. You a prince. Too polite. Just go, 6. No please all the time.
This is the first time in my life that anyone has claimed I’m too polite. Or, I am so polite, I’m like royalty. That opinion should give you an idea of how the chefs speak to each other and the waiters. I’ve seen Hell’s Kitchen, I know how this works. But if someone yells at me, my instinct is to start crying. I just hate been shouted at. I’ve seen the chefs literally throwing knives at each other.
Me – Can you serve Table 10?
Waitress – Why? You go. I make miso soup.
Me – They don’t speak English. They are Chinese.
She goes to the table and takes the order and I make a miso soup and a fresh pot of green tea. Note to everyone reading – drinking like 12 cups of green tea in an hour is the same as doing a bit of cocaine. Just something to bare in mind, if you’re on a bit of budget.
Waitress – Table 10 no Chinese. Not all Asians from China.
Me – Oh, sorry. I didn’t know that. It sounded like Chinese. Where are they from?
Waitress – Don’t know. She not talking, she’s deaf.
Me – Oh, fuck. I just thought she didn’t speak English. Bollox that’s bad.
Waitress -Yes. Yes. Very. Very sad. My aunt have same problem, but with eyes. Take this shit in me to 1.
Me – OK.
I take the plate and go to the kitchen again and see John looking really stressed.
Me – Are you OK?
John – I want to get knife and kill this chef.
Me – Oh, right.
John – Then, I want to kill his family… his wife to watch and then big fire in house.
God.. he’s sexy. He’s such a badass. He doesn’t care what society says. You go John… burn that house…
Me – Marvelous. I’ll take that to the table 7.
This was supposed to be the end of the blog post. I think it was good to go at this point. I thought, when I come back from work, I’ll spell check it and then upload it and then this happened.
Customer – Excuse me, we ordered a Yaki.
Me – A Yeti? What?
Customer – Yaki Soba.
Me – OK. One moment, I’ll see where it is.
I go into the kitchen and ask the chef. There are 4 chefs and the one from India is the nicest. The Chinese ones actually scare me. While talking to the chef through the little wooden window something very strange happened. I felt an enormous, sudden and very unexpected foot up my arse. I quickly turn around. The fat chef (El Gordo as I have nicknamed him) was standing with a huge pot of steaming rice.
Chef 2 – Move you. Why you talk. Always talk. Go work.
I don’t know why I did this and I do kinda regret it but I’m also very proud. I had no idea just how unbelievably angry I could get. Here I am working, for fuck all money, I’ve never made a mistake, never dropped a plate, never screwed up an order, never been late and I’m trying to fix a problem for a customer and this giant fat sumo thing kicks me, quite hard up my arse and tells me to go back to work. Oh, hell no.
As the chef was uttering his “get back to work speech,” he walked past me and into the kitchen. I was frozen. Then, suddenly I yelled (I had no idea how loud my voice can carry).
Me – WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?
Chef turns and looks at me, quite shocked.
Me – DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I’M NOT AN ANIMAL. YOU SAY EXCUSE.
Chef – I say, and you no hear.
Me – SAY IT LOUDER, THEN. SAY IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. DON’T YOU EVER KICK AGAIN?
John comes running in.
John – Sean, what is happened?
Me – HE KICKED….
John – Woooo. You are shouting, a lot loud.
Me- Sorry. He kicked. He just kicked me. I’m not going to work here if people just go around kicking me.
Chef 2 – It was not hard, you blocking the door.
Me – DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN? THIS IS LONDON. WE DON’T KICK PEOPLE HERE.
John – Sean, all restaurant can hear you.
There’s only a curtain that separates the kitchen from the dinning area. I walked out from the curtain and literally there were like 40 pairs of eyes starring at me, most of them look horrified.
There was a large table with 8 people sitting right beside the curtain and they were about to order.
Customer – Are you OK?
Me – Yeah. I’m sorry. No one was supposed to hear that.
Customer – I’m a waiter too. Did the chef just kick you?
Me – Yes.
Customer – Oh, my God. That’s awful.
I walk up to the front and go behind the bar, pour myself a green tea and then carry on working as if nothing happened. I didn’t realize that people at the front could also hear me. The sushi chef is always at the front. He’s also the owner, and he didn’t react in any way. So I assumed he didn’t hear it. I was fine. I blew off my steam and I didn’t think he’d do it again. He probably wasn’t used to working with someone from Europe. Maybe, it was normal for him. Well, now he knows it’s not normal.
2 minutes later. The 8 people leave the restaurant, without ordering. The waitress follows them out and then starts yelling at the sushi chef. Without even looking at me, he leaves the bar and goes into the office.
About 10 minutes later, the other owner, the sushi chef’s wife (who is stunning BTW, I don’t know how he got her…. maybe he wooed her with raw fish) comes walking in.
Owner – Shane. You OK?
Me – Yes.
Owner – What happened? Chef hit you?
Me – Kicked me.
Owner – Very bad. You need hospital.
Me – No, no. It’s not painful.
Owner – No pain?
Me – No. No pain.
Owner – Mark?
Me – No. No mark. It’s OK. I think it was an accident. But I don’t want it to happen again. It’s not OK to kick people.
She goes into the kitchen and comes out in 5 minutes.
Owner – OK. Shane you happy?
Me – I’m OK.
Owner – You are very good. No late. No mistakes. Friendly with customers, we like you.
I could tell, it was difficult for her to say this. Like the Irish, the Chinese don’t really offer compliments to each other very often. I could tell, they had no idea what the problem was but they knew I was offended.
I went into work the next day (today) to collect my payslip.
Waitress – Chef is gone. He is no here.
Me – What. They fired him? Fuck.
Waitress – No, no. We don’t know where?
Where did the chef go? Did the owners only react because those 8 customers left or because they didn’t want me to be upset? Did the chef really think it’s OK to kick people instead of saying move, or did he just not like me? What the hell is “shit in me”? And what’s John’s real name?? Are those my feet? These are questions people….. questions..
Next week, I’ll be in Italy learning how to make pizza in Naples. Stay tuned. Follow me or subscribe below. I just joined Twitter, so follow me….