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Treats and Tribulations: Part 3

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I quit my job.

It’s all over.

I’ve blended my last milkshake, wiped my last table and made my last waffle.

Well for now at least.

I can’t say I’ll miss Treats.

My last shift was a hellish 10 hours long (3pm – 1am) without a single break.

We’d just started doing home delivery via Just Eat but Yasser had given Lucia the day off and Mohammed was sick so we had twice the workload with half the staff.

Talk about a sticky situation.

At one point I thought I was going to faint so I just sat on the toilet for ten minutes and had a micro nap.

The whole thing was a shambles really.

Since old Mohammed had gone home we had no chef to make hot food so I had to run next door to buy a chicken burger to send for delivery and when the waffle mix ran out I had to do likewise and sprint to neighbouring Delight’s (their poor use of apostrophe not mine).

As I walked home that night I felt absolutely knackered but also elated at the thought I’d never have to go back.

I made sure to say a final farewell to the cockroach that lives inside the microwave but I wasn’t able to tell Yasser to his face that I quit and rather took the coward’s way out by sending him a text the next day.

He’s since tried to offer me a better deal and has been ringing me but I’ve just ignored it.

He told me before I left that the owner has decided to go with Sprinkles for the new name so I suppose that’ll be my “legacy.”

In the end though, as bad as this job has been it’s taught me something about the value of hard work, the multicultural web of Manchester’s Muslim community and the art of making a perfect crepe.

But I deserve something better

As the French chef Jacques Torres once said,

-“Life is short. Eat dessert first.

 

 

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Treats and Tribulations: Part 2

 

“Work is the meat of life, pleasure the dessert” – B.C. Forbes 

But what happens when dessert is your work?

Even though my job often leaves me feeling like a sunken soufflé it still has its perks, ie. FREE CAKE!

Since I’m allowed this one pleasure I usually find myself planning what cake I’m going to sample on my break before I’ve even arrived for my shift.

To date my favourite is still the homemade red velvet but the fruit cake with vanilla icing comes in at a close second.

So yeah it’s not all that bad.

Since my first installment there’s been a bit of a change up to our staff at Treats.

We’re now a fully multicultural team since we’ve been joined by Senna who’s from Eritrea and a Slovakian girl called Lucia.

Sadly Luis has quit for reasons unknown.

Lucia thinks he had an argument with Yasser but he’s since been in to visit and even though I can’t understand Arabic, the laughter and manly handshakes would suggest no lingering animosity.

I imagine he just got fed up of working for a pittance.

Coincidentally Lucia, a stunning blonde of supermodel proportions, also has a degree in Business and is just trying to improve her English for a year.

I wonder how long it will be before young Mohammed tries to propose to her.

There was a French girl called Mailys who worked with us for a couple of weeks but she left, not only because the pay is a bit shit but also because Mohammed kept trying to arrange a date with her and asked her when she’d like to get married.

Senna  has an education from her home country and is frustrated by the fact that she has had to start from the bottom and re-do college since moving to the UK – somewhere she will stay for the foreseeable future since she recently married a guy from here. (at least she doesn’t have to worry about Mohammed’s advances.)

Other interesting developments are that I’ve actually been given the responsibility of renaming the business!

Since I’m the only native English speaker who works at Treats, Yasser decided to consult me on my ideas for new names.

So far I’ve suggested Temptations, Sugar Stop, Sweet Shack and Sprinkles.

Yasser liked Temptations although questioned whether it had any double entendre, i.e could infer desire for a woman.

I said “not really” but he didn’t seem convinced.

I’ve also had the pleasant task of writing the names of the ice creams in pretty fonts on wipe clean labels which was a nice change from unclogging the sink and picking stray hairs out of the custard.

The other day I actually tried to tell Yasser that I wanted to leave and find a better paid job but he practically begged me to stay, telling me that I was “very precious” to him and that “he’d kill me” if I left.

He was joking of course…I hope.

Anyway, since I seem to be stuck in this job for the foreseeable future I’ve devised a little game to make each six or nine hour shift more bearable.

From now on I’ll award myself points for certain things and see how high I can score – maybe I’ll even let Senna and Lucia in on the game….

Points are awarded as follows: 

Kill a cockroach                                                50pts

Kill a fly                                                              100pts (notably more difficult)

Receive a customer complaint                      30pts (though not on purpose)

Yasser says “tables, please”                         20pts

A fly dies in the Insectaflash                        40pts (a horrible sizzling sound)

Find a hair in the ice cream                           200pts

Find a hair in the custard                               80pts

Make a perfect crêpe                                      60pts

 

The list could go on.

Other recent events of interest are that a guy came in and randomly stole one of the fake roses from a display in the front window.

Mohammed chased him down the road where he quickly got into a getaway car with his girlfriend and bolted the door – all Mohammed could do was give him the finger and a few choice expletives.

I was confused since I mistook him for one of the people who randomly sell flowers up and down the curry mile like the Chinese woman who always comes in to harass the customers and offer them three roses for a fiver.

They’ve also installed security cameras so the owner can watch our every move from Saudi Arabia and report our wrongdoings to Yasser like some sort of Middle Eastern Big Brother.

Other than that there’s not much to report.

Each time I go to work I quickly fall into the rhythm of making milkshakes, cleaning the dishes, wiping the tables and repeating the process again and again in almost contented resignation.

The work could definitely be worse and I enjoy the simple things like seeing a child smile as they pick out an ice cream flavour or watching the cookie dough rise and expand in the microwave.

For now this job is the meat of my life, the cake that I eat there, the dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

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Treats and Tribulations: Part 1

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I’ve just started working in a dessert parlour called Treats on Manchester’s Curry Mile.

It’s not the worst job in the world but right now I’ve just come home from a 9hr shift and the thought of doing it all again tomorrow is bringing me out in a rash.

Still, a job’s a job and I really am in desperate need of the dollar.

My career development loan is taking so long to come through I’m beginning to wonder if all of the Co-op bank’s admin is done by carrier pigeons (at least it would be 0% emissions.)

Anyway, the author Philip Roth once said “Nothing bad can happen to a writer; It’s all material” so here is the first installment in a series where I shall chronicle the trials and tribulations of working at Treats.

First of all you should know that The Curry Mile is basically the hub of the Asian community in Manchester; a long strip of curry houses, shisha bars and the odd dessert place.

Treats is one of these and is positioned next to Afghan Cuisine and opposite our fierce rivals Gelato Passion.

One day I channelled my inner Bond-Bon girl as I was sent on a spy mission to buy a waffle from Gelato Passion so we could compare and contrast.

All I needed to disguise myself was to remove the plastic gloves and apron.

It was the perfect ruse.

My boss concluded that ours is better value but I decided not to point out that since we charge extra for strawberries and ice cream it works out at the same price.

Sorry, I’m waffling.

My manager Yasser is Syrian, as are my co-workers Luis,Mohammed, Einad and the younger Mohammed (who we call Moha) is half Syrian half Lebanese.

With the exception of Yasser and the older Mohammed, my co-workers aren’t very good at English and only ever speak Arabic to each other which often leaves me trying to figure out what’s being said from context and hand gestures.

I’ve also learnt to just smile and nod when they’re all laughing about something which I don’t understand.

Still, being a native English speaker does have its advantages since I’m able to advise on the spelling of labels for the cakes and other items. Eg. You can get a “shot” from the chocolate fountain not a “chocolate shut.”

We sell a wide range of cakes ice-cream, milkshakes, waffles and crepes as well as some things I’d never come across before like a pink Pakistani tea called Kashmiri chai and a dessert called Falooda (rose syrup, ice cream, vermicelli, milk and basil seeds) which is popular on the Indian sub-continent.

I’m paid below minimum wage at £5/hr when at 22 years old I should be earning at least £6.70.

When I tried to broach the subject with Yasser he just said “£5 is good for Curry Mile” and explained that the other guys get paid even less!

I know it’s not ideal but I’ve found it hard to find any other job and I know it’s not forever.

I also know that some of the others are in a much worse position.

Luis, for example has a degree in Financial Analysis which he completed in Jordan before he came to the UK.

He needed to improve his English in order to do a Masters but due to the conflict which broke out in Syria he has been unable to return home to visit his family and misses them a lot.

When he told me this it helped me to put things in perspective a little and made me grateful for the fact that even though I’ve moved away from home, I always know that my family are safe and well.

As a wise man once said:

“Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” Forrest Gump

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10 things I’ve learnt from working in retail

In order to add a little bit of financial security to my student life I’ve recently started a job at a well known High Street fashion retail outlet. I won’t name them in case they sue me or something, but suffice to say it’s very busy – all the time! Apart from the fact that I’m quite desperate for money, here are ten things I’ve learnt from working in retail:

1.) Men only buy socks and underpants

When I work on the tills it surprises me how many men just seem to buy socks and underpants. Do they expect their wives/girlfriends/mothers to always buy their clothes for them or do they survive off birthday and Christmas presents? It’s one of life’s great mysteries. Harry Styles apparently doesn’t even wear socks though….

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2.) Folding is an art

I laughed when my supervisor announced during my induction “Now we’re going to learn how to fold clothes.” Little did I know that it’s not as easy as it looks. Every item has to be folded differently and you must remember to follow the lines and make sure the size label is visible. Then you can wait 5 mins until a customer comes along, picks it up, briefly considers buying it and then puts it back on the table in a crumpled heap thus destroying your masterpiece. Repeat x100.

3.) My Maths GCSE is redundant

At school my Maths teacher always said that we’d need to be able to do mental Maths for sums and working out change etc. I use an electronic till which scans the items, displays a total and then tells me how much change to give. No mental effort required.

4.) Customer Service = Pretending to care

We are told that good customer service means being smiley, bubbly and above all helpful. Most days when I’m working I’m just counting down the time till my next break or my clocking off time when I can once again breathe the sweet smell of freedom. Forgive me if I smile, kindly apologise and tell you that the only sizes available are the ones which are displayed; I couldn’t be arsed to go on an expedition to the stockroom and trawl through seemingly identical ponchos.
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5.) The General Public are a strange bunch

The majority of people I come into contact with are perfectly normal but every so often I meet an odd one. Like the woman who told me that since my till was tucked away in the corner, I’d need a rocket to alert people to the fact I was there. She also addressed me by name which I thought was creepy until I remembered I was wearing a name tag.

6.) Rudeness is one of my pet hates

Since I’m being paid only slightly more than minimum wage to smile and act as though I care about the fact that you can’t find the right shade of beige jumper, the least you can do is be polite. Once a customer told me “Oh I‘ve obviously asked the wrong person.” If only I could have replied “I’ve obviously chosen the wrong weekend job.”

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7.) Age doesn’t equal experience

In most jobs the senior members of staff are those who are slightly longer in the tooth. In retail however you can start from the bottom at 16 and by 18 you can be a supervisor. Initially I felt a bit strange taking direction from someone who was three years younger than me but I’m getting used to it and I’m willing to learn.

8.) Some people become animals when they’re shopping

The state that some of the clothes tables can get in will always baffle me. I don’t expect people to neatly fold things when they put them back but surely they can refrain from just dumping them on the floor? Then there’s the mystery of the shoe department. I swear some people must finish trying on shoes and then fling one of them to the other side of the store just to mess with us.alone animated GIF

9.) Standing is really tiring

Whether I’m working in a department or on tills I know that on every shift I’m guaranteed to be standing for at least 4 hours. Until now I never fully appreciated how tiring this is – unless of course you’re actually doing something enjoyable like standing at a concert. On the plus side however I discovered that just standing for an hour can burn around 130 calories!

10.) I appreciate being at University

Even if someone were to offer me a management position at my current job I would gladly decline. I now appreciate the full value of my education and all of the additional career options which it can open up for me. Some people thrive from the busyness and the swift pace of retail work, but not me; I’m just here for the money really.

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Me on payday