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