Tag Archives: Work

Saturday 20th June – Mixed Salad Malfunctions

I’m back from college, tired and a bit mentally bedraggled. It was an intense year! Soon I can post a backlog of blog entries here. In the meantime here’s an entry from last Saturday. Since my previous post I have got myself a Saturday job in a restaurant. It’s a policy of my workplace that I cannot name it online. So I will refer to it with many different names, starting with The Home of the Giant Scone. 

Restaurants are full of background noise. As well as scores of chatting customers and clinking cutlery, a playlist of popular music is played on a loop all day long. Once I have heard “We are Young” by Fun or “Here Come The Girls” for the seventh time that day I know  it’s nearly hometime.

Restaurants are not ideal places to hear clearly if you have Auditory Processing Disorder like I used to. Thanks to Johansen IAS therapy, Auditory Processing is now only a weak area for me, and I can hear almost every single word that customers and colleagues say to me. My job as a Table-clearer is mostly a physical task of cleaning tables and carrying trays back to behind the scenes to be cleared of food and washed. My job also involves chatting to customers and making sure that they are happy with their eating experience. Hearing clearly and being able to tune out table sounds and Top 40 canned music is very helpful to my job. Something that I lacked before Johansen IAS therapy, and something which after today I’m sure I will have to use all the time are PEOPLE SKILLS. Dealing with the public is part of my job, so good communication is essential. I have a feeling that my new job will teach me a lot about people.

I cycled to the Home of the Giant Scone, changed into my uniform, secured my Beard Net onto my head, put my little hat on and got to work.

Today was business as usual, apart from a few stroppy customers.

The first was a woman who called me over to look at her plate. “Would you say that this is a mixed salad?” she asked me. I wanted to say “Is this a trick question?” There was a varied mix of chopped vegetables and leaves on her plate beside a baguette, so I instead I said “Yes”. She insisted that there was too much lettuce and not enough tomatoes and cucumber. “Not like the plates on display” she insisted, trying to educate me as to what the qualities of good salad should be.

I guessed that she was one of these people who considered that the grass was always greener on the other side, mainly because the other side belonged to someone else. I supposed that in proportion to the fresh lettuce leaves, other vegetables were a minority group. As far as I was concerned that’s what a healthy Salad should look like.

She looked at me, pointing to her salad, again explaining that it wasn’t the mixed salad it claimed to be. Obviously it was only a pretender to the title of Mixed Salad. Perhaps not even a Salad at all. Mixed Salad was a pedigree beyond the qualities of the leafy mongrel creature skulking on her industrial chinaware.

Even although you sometimes can’t reason with these people, it is unfortunately in my job description to put on a smile and at least try.

“I’m sorry that your salad is not mixed enough. How can I make this right for you?”

Still glaring at the Leafy Green Impostor on her plate, the woman asked me to go and get her more tomatoes and cucumber. I took the plated baguette back to the food prep area and explained the situation.

“There’s a woman upset about the diversity of her salad and complaining bitterly about it. Can I have some more tomatoes and cucumber please?”

He spooned on more chopped vegetables and I headed back to appease her. Being as polite as I could without taking the piss, I kept smiling and asked her if everything was better now. Instead of dealing with her Salad malfunction I could have been clearing more tables which were filling up quickly.

She eyed her plate suspiciously. “It is somewhat better”.

There’s just no pleasing some people. I dismissed myself from her table to go deal with some real problems.

Behind the scenes again I bumped into the plated baguette preparer. He asked if the customer was happy now.

“She said her salad is somewhat better”.

He gave a whatever kind of shrug, clearly a veteran of kitchen complaints. “It’s not a salad anyway. It’s a garnish”.

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Thursday 15th May 2014- It’s raining fish heads, “Inaudible” cat-scaring devices, and Doctor Death.

We worked in lots of gardens today.
In the first garden, I heard the squawk of seagulls above us. A couple of minutes later, my supervisor called me round to the front, saying Look what fell onto the driveway! I expected a dead bird. What I saw was the entire head of a salmon. It had given my supervisor a surprise, landing beside where he was working. A fish head falling from the sky is a pretty random event.
I was really tired after yesterday, and my hearing was more acute than usual, a little reminder of my bad old Auditory Processing days when it was a full-blown Disorder, not just the few difficulties I experience nowadays. After the first busy day, the rest of my part-time week of gardening feels like a physical test. In the back garden weeding, I had a bit of a headache and a high-pitched noise in my head. I realised after a while that the noise and headache was caused by a little white box near the steps where I was weeding. Rentokil, it said on it. The sound was like a very thin white line piercing into my head. The little box in the border had a motion sensor and every time I passed, there were two tiny clicks and it would fire a line of sound at me. It’s probably supposed to be one of those sounds which “humans can’t hear”. Probably to deter cats. Unfortunately it works on gardeners with hearing issues too. It was very annoying.

I wondered about the head on the driveway, whether the owners would think that we left it while they were out as a kind of dark, fishy, slightly splattered message to be nice to gardeners. A bit like that horse’s head in The Godfather, I suppose. In the end, while we were packing up, a seagull swooped down to reclaim it, and carried its treasure away over the suburban houses in it’s beak. Perhaps it had been flying around for a while, searching for the dinner it dropped earlier. It was quite a big fish head. One determined seagull.
Another garden, then we went to the house of a customer who has been nicknamed “Doctor Death”. Something in the trees creaks, there are dolls in the windows, and a sort of deserted, aged garage which I could easily imagine being haunted. That said, apparently our customer is a very pleasant person. They just have the unfortunate ability to silently appear beside my supervisor and scare the hell out of him.

After that we had one more garden.
Get home, Drum, eat, sleep. Where did my free time go? I’m experiencing the world of work, and feeling a lot more respect for the other people in it.

Tuesday 6th May 2014

I was gardening again today. They dropped me off early at the train station early, wishing me luck for my British Sign Language exam. Sometimes I wonder where all the nice people like them were when I was at school. The answer is that they were there, all the time. I just didn’t have the stability, social skills, confidence and clear hearing to interact with them.

My exam went okay. I was last because of the alphabetical ordered list. Damn that second name.
I think I have a chance of passing, which is all I need. I did my best after a time so busy I could hardly revise. My college class and teacher are a great group of people. I’ll miss seeing them every Tuesday night.

Fingers crossed I’ve passed!

Wednesday Ist May 2014

My boss kindly allowed me a day to think over his offer of a full-time job. I held out for a part-time job, but was willing to go full-time if there was no part-time option. We discussed this with emails, which was easier and much less stressful than if I had talked to him about it. Talking through writing takes my hearing issues out of the equation. It also means that I can take the time to think over and say what I mean in a way that’s clear to understand. My boss offered me a part-time job and sent me some paperwork to fill out. In the section about anything which could affect your work, I wrote a little about my Auditory Processing Difficulties. I said that my hearing is much clearer than it used to be, but there are still some issues, especially when I’m tired. I told him that I go to lip reading classes to reduce any problems as much as possible.
I have a part-time job, which is ideal for me.

That was a few days back.
Today at work, an adorable golden retriever ten-week old puppy stole my glove when I took it off to pet him, and ran away around the garden, chewing it. He thought that it was the best toy ever. Eventually he ran into the house and his owner caught him and gave me my glove back.
After the morning it was really wet and cold. Miserable working in that weather. We did some lawns. In a big garden, having my first shot at a diesel lawnmower, I got funny stares from the builders also working there. My supervisor said that they’d asked him if I was his lass. When they said it must be rubbish working with a girl, he said no it’s really good actually. As well as a cheerful, patient supervisor, he’s a really good person. And a brilliant drummer. By amazing coincidence, it turned out that all the supervisors at the gardening company play drums! Every gardener there seems to play some kind of instrument. My supervisor today played drums in a pretty major band. Earlier this week he gave me some sticks, and he’s always happy to help when I pick his brains for drum advice. I get home from work tired and aching after a long day, but the people I work with make it more fun.