If you were to ask me if I like my gastronomy job, I’d probably say no. If you were to ask me why I don’t quit, I’d say itâ€™s because I donâ€™t hate it as much as the last one. And although I wouldnâ€™t call it luxurious, it does pay the bills, and it feels like a luxury to be able to do just that.
I should be honest and say I do have a lot fewer skills than most people. I donâ€™t have a degree and Iâ€™m not a native German speaker. Iâ€™d never worked in gastronomy and Iâ€™m not the most comfortable person in stressful environments.
I think what scared me the most in the beginning was the language barrier – even though I speak well enough to get by, and can quite flawlessly ask people what they want to drink and make small talk about the weather.
I do often find myself smiling and nodding at jokes I donâ€™t understand. Why donâ€™t they teach us German sense of humor in German class anyway?
Despite my mediocre language skills, I try really, really hard to be a friendly waitress. Iâ€™m not quite sure why itâ€™s so important to me to make a good impression. I suppose it comes naturally to some people, but some days it does take a lot out of me, and it really isnâ€™t the most rewarding job. The pay is only okay, the tips could definitely be better, and all in all I think the industry could use a lot of improvement.
Why do companies care so much about customer satisfaction, and so little about their employees?
I didn’t often picture myself working in service, but when I did, I think I romanticized it far too much.
Itâ€™s really not as graceful as I’d imagined it to be. I havenâ€™t worked everywhere, so itâ€™s possible Iâ€™m making an unfair generalization, but I’ve worked in a lot of different places.
I got my first job here on a whim, just to avoid the trouble of thoroughly looking for one I’d actually like.
There were already a bunch of red flags the first few weeks. It was exhausting – both physically and emotionally. For months I was never home before midnight. All my body constantly hurt. I felt like I never had any time for myself. The last few weeks were kind of a whirlwind. Iâ€™m pretty sure they wanted me out of there just as much as I wanted to leave. But they wouldnâ€™t fire me, and I wouldnâ€™t quit.
One day it just hit me in the face how unhealthy the entire experience had been.
I couldnâ€™t quite pinpoint the reason I disliked my job so much. It took me a really long time to realize how the small things made me feel. Letâ€™s just say my employers had completely different values than I did, and at the end of the day I didnâ€™t want to invest time and effort into a company I wouldnâ€™t want to be associated with.
Most days I still have to remind myself to not associate myself entirely with my job anyway.
Especially in a city like Leipzig, where everyone else seems to be living out their dreams, I really didnâ€™t want to be “just a waitress.” I will say that no one seemed to mind it as much as I did. I feel like I have the freedom here to be something outside of my job.
Working in gastronomy/hospitality is pretty straightforward.
Itâ€™s often uncomplicated and can even be enjoyable. As long as employers are understanding and donâ€™t just consider their employees as a cog in their machine, it can be quite a nice time in the end.
On second thought, my gastronomy job right now is kind of exciting. It challenges me, I learn something new everyday, and I’ve become quite confident doing what I do. And even though I can’t imagine doing this forever, itâ€™s probably exactly what Iâ€™m meant to be doing right now.
By Maya Mahroum
Maya is a soon-to-be computer science student who, in the meantime, has been working as a waitress at many different places in Leipzig. Besides clumsily serving people drinks, she spends most of her time painting, taking care of her plants, and learning Spanish.