It’s December 31st, 2003 and I am in a wine bar in my hometown. Unfortunately, I am not there to drink or party, instead I am working. The bar provides a paycheck and therefore a vital lifeline to some much-needed funds during my holidays whilst studying at university.
It’s the second year that I have worked on New Years and here in actual fact. It’s a ticket only event so although it’s busy, the faces are the same, which adds a nice level of familiarity to the evening. Plus, I get paid double my usual hourly wage and the sneaky glasses of wine (paid for by some generous and drunk customers) help the evening run pleasantly.
The big boss is also here. He runs the wine bar and the restaurant next door and so he can usually be found barking orders at people there. I don’t particularly like him and I think that the feeling is mutual, though he is gruff and obstinate with everyone – who work for him that is.
He makes me nervous and when I am nervous I make mistakes. A case in point was on my first shift at the bar a little over a year earlier; where the manager of the wine bar had asked me to take some drinks around to the restaurant via a connecting tunnel between the two buildings. On my arrival to the restaurant I am greeted by the big boss of whom at this point I was yet to meet. He glares at me and rushes me to provide the drinks to the guests, it turns out that one of the waitresses is sick and so I am helping to cover when the restaurant was busy. It was heaving. I duck under the bar and turn to grab the tray. Except I didn’t. In my haste I had put the tray on the edge of the bar and the tray along with its contents come crashing and spilling to the floor. The noise reverberates around the restaurant and I swear the music momentarily stops. It leaves the big boss and I staring at one another. Me, feeling like an absolute idiot and wanting to crawl away. Him, wondering who idiot was who hired me. He shouts at me in one of those ways where he doesn’t actually raise his voice, it’s more body language and facial expression and I practically run back through the tunnel to the bar to make another tray load of drinks.
If it wasn’t for that incident, in my time since I have also locked myself out of the cash register so that he had to help me out, failed miserably at a cocktail training class (which he organised and was present for also), shattered more glasses and just generally messed up when he’s been around. I really didn’t make a good waitress.
And now back to New Year’s Eve in 2003. Despite the big boss’s presence; things are going ok: he hasn’t glared at me or even spoken to me for that matter, as much like our first encounter, the place is heaving. However, my optimism is short-lived when we have our eventual but inevitable clash. I am serving a customer when I manage to lock myself out of the cash register again. This isn’t an issue that happens solely to me, but in my rush (seems to be a pattern here) I fail to input my login code twice and it freezes. This creates a hold-up and he charges over and shouts at me. From what I can recall he says something like:
“I thought it’d be you, it’s always you.”
It was my turn to freeze as he continues to berate my crap skills as a waitress in front of customers. I say nothing and when he finishes fixing the register he marches off. As I hold back tears and continue to serve customers, a dark bitterness overcomes me, I make a resolution that I would never return to work at the bar after I head back to university.
However, much like many of my other New Year resolutions throughout the years, it didn’t stick and I was back at that wine bar at Easter doing my best to avoid the big boss again and because I needed the money.
Throughout my 20s, I usually made grand New Year’s resolutions. Epic you might say, including things like buy a new car, lose weight, buy a house, go travelling, quit my soul-sucking job (whatever it was), just for starters. Anything that would take me away from where I was and who I was at the time. And back in 2003, I didn’t know who the hell I was and it couldn’t have gotten more epic than sticking two fingers up at my boss, metaphorically speaking rather than literally.
Losing weight, getting a ring on it or going travelling are all worthwhile if they are truly what you want, but in my case I was making grand resolutions to help me escape myself.
I hate to sound like a cliche, but both time and age have made me realise two things; making grand resolutions are a bad idea and if you are going to make any then you have to keep working on them. So this year, I just have one resolution and I see it more as a work-in-progress for hopefully years to come: to stop being so hard on myself.
This is in regards to the things that I want to achieve and to acknowledge the things that I do manage. If I manage to finally finish the book that I’ve been working on for the past two years? Amazing! But I am going to try and not let the fear of not achieving this ruin me. If I manage to make a move finally out of teaching into something new? Yippee! But I acknowledge that this is a road that I have been on for some time now and like many paths there are quite a few turns on the way.