I worked hard on my first night- cleaning, fetching, stacking, wishing I had Ivan's speed, but if I tried to approach such velocity, a glass would break. A cry of ‘Be careful’ really meant, 'Don't be such an ass! This is costing us money'. When I worked at my own pace I lagged behind and would be greeted with, “We need more glasses or spoons or, my personal favourite, plates for coffee.
When I was under the most intense pressure the manager, having a sixth sense for such things, would make a ridiculous demand.
“Fill the mustard bottles!” complete with the most irritating tag ever- “Now!”
“But they need glasses.” I knew it would be a waste of effort.
“Fill bottles now, please.” Whenever they used 'please' any further discussion would be futile. Pressure can be useful, inspiring one to greater heights. Stress is negative and leads to confusion. It was management policy to favour stress.
The in-tray grew, the waitresses became tetchy because they were on commission and used to getting big tips. Several customers left due to the waiting, long even by Israeli standards. Joseph's temper was short and he blurted out something in Hebrew or was it Polish?
After an eternity the mustard finally drained into the bottles. I put the caps back on and slammed them on the counter.
“Finished.” I felt back at school.
“Clean the tops please.” I cleaned the tops.
“Dry them please.” I dried them.
“Now can I continue with the dishes?”
“Of course, people's waiting, but you need to clean toilets in a minute.”
“Do I get a brush?”
“Of course. We are very kind here.”
I worked as hard as I could but now it was much more laboured. The little coordination I previously had vanished like the suds spiralling down the drain.
It is a scientific fact that water travels in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the southern. What about the equator?
I had a throbbing in the back of my neck from leaning over the sink for hours on end without a break.
At 5.15 we finished our work and the bar manager said, “Goodbye.” I ignored him. “Goodbye, Bob.” He would not be happy unless he rubbed salt into the wounds.
“Oh, sorry.” I lied. “Bye.”
The human side emerged from Joseph as told me to pour 2 beers. Exhausted, but still able to drink, I poured out the frothy Goldstar. We talked till 6.
I had always wanted to be a dishwasher ever since I had read 'Down and out in London and Paris'. I was down but not out in Tel Aviv. The Terminal was not Maxim's, but then I was not George Orwell, though my postcards home did improve and Big Brother was always watching me.
Joseph asked if I could work that evening. I had impressed. If not it would mean leaving Ivan on his own. I could not let my mentor down.
Dish-washing was a disgusting job in most part due to the smokers. Every table always had a clean ashtray every half an hour, but that did not stop those filthy bastards shoving cigarette butts into every item of crockery and cutlery.
google imageI suggested to David that it might be a good idea if the Terminal became the first non-smoking bar in Tel Aviv. I proffered that the customers' health would benefit, that the food would taste better and they would live longer, thereby increasing turnover potential. He did not even pay the courtesy of an answer.