To all the fellow losers, with love.
I’m writing this post as an im memoriam to the horrible, catastrophic, hilarious student jobs I’ve tried in the past four years here in Berlin. I pray some of you can relate.
Job 1: A Brunch Cafe
Duration: 1 year
Situation: Most of my colleagues are Danish coolkids, and I like them a lot, and I don´t fit in at all. Together, we try to figure out what are rude customers yelling at us in German. The brunch rush hours nearly make us collapse. Somehow, whenever a customer crisis occurs, our boss is nowhere to be found. I burn a lot of cappuccinos. There´s a pregnant Russian DJ that hates everything we serve, yet comes almost every day. We laugh a lot. Everyone works for a minimum wage. A friend´s friend dies, he receives the news at work and is not allowed to take even ten minutes off. I´m introduced to Frank Ocean. We only serve dark roast.
Job 2: A German Hotel
Duration: 3 Weeks
Situation: A chain of shifts in Germany´s largest hotel, each of them starting at 5am. The service workers in white shirts are terrorized by supervisors in black shirts. Fulltime employees behave like choleric bullies. I meet Eva, a beautiful Greek artist with Bambi eyes, who explains me the story of her tattoos. Nearly all dishwasher workers and garbage collectors are people of color, some slightly physically or mentally disabled. None of them leaves the hotel´s entrails. The guests see right through us, as if we were walking trays. Sleazy chefs shout at me to smile to look pretty, but I can´t smile because I am depressed af. I stay 3 weeks and think about the people who stay their whole lives.
Job 3: The Russian Hotel
Duration: 4 hours
A trial shift at a hotel that´s meant to be demolished in 3 months. It’s run by an all-Russian management that’s basically one big family. I arrive to what looks like an apocalyptic 70s throwback. Another candidate is present: a shabby Russian guy in his 60s. Our supervisor Irina, a high-maintenance Russian lady with yellow gel nails, welcomes us at the reception. The whole administration consists of one messy Excel table. My competitor is nearly illiterate – a moment to shine for me, wow. Irina´s ostentatiously playing favorites. At 10 am, a stale continental breakfast is offered to all staff but the poor guy, who must remain at the reception desk. There are no guests at sight. Only Russian is spoken. After brunching, Irina takes me on a tour. Rooms have rotting wallpapers and a musty smell. The honeymoon suite lacks a bed. The cherry on top is an abandoned beauty parlor on the top floor, featuring an empty jacuzzi with plastic Baroque angels. “Think of us, cooling down here after work,” dreams Irina out loud. I nod. Back at the lobby, she offers me the job at the spot. I run away.
Job 4: The Sterile German B&B
Duration: 2 months
Situation: A boring receptionist job at a sterile German B&B. There´s a bunch of Romany workers, all allegedly cousins, all incredibly rude and sexist. Somehow, none of them pays, and my German boss can´t wrap his head around it. A prostitute of Hamburg shows up, serving clients in a family bedroom. She has a kind, rasping voice and comes to the lobby crying one night, telling me her brother back home committed suicide. The shitshow continues. A normcore Swiss guest turns out to be a schizophrenic criminal that stays for a month without paying a single cent. Police tells us he might be dangerous, which is not very comforting, as he then keeps hanging around the building. I walk home from work at midnight, alone. Basic Germans have more demands than at a 5-star hotel. A lot of mansplaining and inappropriate comments is involved. “Are you Russian?” I get asked at least once a day. I speak fluent German. I keep losing faith in humankind. I smile very coldly. One evening in late July, a fragile boy arrives in full glam and high heels, sweetly confiding to me he wants to try luck in a beauty pageant. I pray for his safety.
Job 5: The Furniture Store
Duration: 1 Day
After responding to an add and a whatsapp invitation, I meet with an energetic Turkish woman, who needs help with social media/website for her furniture store. Turns out the store isn’t entirely hers. Turns out she has an older „partner“. Turns out the partner is a 80 year old obscurely fat German called Manfred, who doesn’t believe in internet. The whole store is a warehouse full of junk. Signs on the windows say: „Final Clearance“. First day at work, I’m the first one to come. Manfred arrives twenty minutes late; the Turkish woman doesn’t show up at all. I start with their instagram account: I clear it out, I plan it out, I post. Manfred goes out for coffee. I’m supposed to work without a contract. The store’s concept is ½ wannabe Scandinavian chic, ½ fake gilded Baroque. I’m clueless. There’s one hundred chairs, but nowhere to sit down. Manfred informs me they usually do 4-day weekends. I go home and see that meanwhile, Turkish woman deleted the whole instagram progress. I text her I quit; „Schade,“ she replies.