Sunday, 16 October 2011


Part 5
The management were still on their ego trips.
“You do like dis.”
“Like dat?”   
“No, like dis. Den you put it 'ere.”      
“No, 'ere.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Easy, no?”
I ended putting it in the wrong place, just because. They would take great delight in always walking on the floor as soon as I had washed it. The smile was coincidental.
This downward whirlpool of negativity was accelerating. One day it rained and the bar manager wanted the awning lowered. Like all the chores I was expected to do, I made sure it took longer for them to explain it to me, than for them to do it themselves, but that was not in the rules.
“Bob, you fetch thing to lower umbrella.”
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“What?” after 5 minutes I twigged what he was on about but did not let on for another 5.
“The thing for the front, today please.”
“If you had explained clearly to start with, you could have had it yesterday.”
I unwound the awning but only one side came down. I tried to lower the other side but realised that dirt would fall over some customers.
“Bob, you fix other side. I show you.” I knew what would happen but the words would not come out. As predictable as the Terminal playing 'Comfortably Numb' 5 times a day, the muck went flying. The diners had tuna a la rust and bird shit mayonnaise. This was not such a big problem as the food was not for eating but merely for looking at.
Inside Ivan was preparing a salad with his usual flair. “Is beautiful, yes?”
I had to agree.
“I makes food beautiful like my greatfather. This makes peoples happy, they give waitress big tips, they come again, this makes boss happy. I put peoples first.”
I wondered how this guy with little formal education realised what should have been the most important aspect of any organisation- to put people first. The Terminal was a place for self-indulgence. What Wembley is to football, Covent Garden to opera and Milton Keynes to boredom, the Terminal was to egotism. One day there will a plaque erected to Ivan, but not, I doubt, in Tel Aviv.
One morning I bought a copy of the Observer newspaper as a treat. I noticed in the travel section an article which was to change my life. The world dish-washing championship was to be held the next weekend at the Tel Aviv Hilton. 
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It was the 20th anniversary of the competition and the Hilton chain sponsors the event for the cheap publicity and the cable TV rights. I rushed along the seafront to enter Ivan.
The event had to be open to all to qualify for tax relief, but when I saw the list of competitors, I noticed only 1 non-Hilton employee.
“I'd like to make an entrant, please.”
“Sorry sir, all entries are closed.”
“But we didn't know about it.”
“It was well publicised. We can only accept 12 entrants.”
Was this man some sort of messiah?
“They're all from the Hilton.” I guessed.
“One does actually work for Maxim's.”
“Called George Orwell I suppose.”
“Is one being flippant, sir?”
There was no way of persuading this bureaucrat so I left. I never told Ivan so he could not share my disappointment. The next few days passed spasmodically; smoothly with Ivan and a bit disjointed with Joseph. I suffered the usual “like dis, no like dis.” with ease. I even answered the waitresses back when they were over the top in the hassling.
The counter blocked a view below the waist and the shelves above their faces. I learned to recognise them by their breasts. This might seem outrageously sexist, but when in Rome.
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“You are a waitress, right?”
“Well wait then.”

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