The combination of exams and training has meant that my time as a kitchen porter has had to come to an end. My last shift was on Wednesday, and for more reasons than one, it finished on an unexpected note.
When I walked into the kitchen at 11am I was met with about seven boxes of dirty plates and a whole load of kitchen equipment. I can almost always tell how busy the day has, and will be, by how much washing I have at the start of a shift. As the station was pretty backed up, I predicted that my shift would be stressful, horrendously sweaty and would probably leave me in a bad mood. While I couldn’t have been more wrong, starting on this note made me want to work hard. I refused to leave the cafe with a bad reputation.
Relatively quickly, this determination payed off, and I cleared most of the front of house stuff that was there. Having said that, I didn’t clear as much, as quickly as I wanted to, as boxes kept coming in, putting the bulky kitchen equipment through was slowing me down … and I’d also flooded the kitchen.
Let me make this very clear, I flooded the kitchen by complete accident.
The dishwasher hadn’t been cleaning things properly, so I’d gone to clean it out, and to do this you have to take it apart. Firstly, you lift the runner which supports the trays, then you take out the tubes which channel the water and then you remove the filters. After everything is out you have to clean the food derby off of the filters, these were caked in muck which was why the dishwasher wasn’t doing its job properly, and then you have to put everything back together.
When I was putting it back together everything was going smoothly .. until I closed the dishwasher to start the cycle again. That was when everything went tits up. Water started frothing out of the washer and spilling all over the floor. This only happened for a few seconds but that was enough to make a substantial mess. Turns out I hadn’t replaced one of the tubes properly and the water pressure had forced it out of place. Without a channel to travel down, the water had just spurted everywhere.
I think a normal person would have found this situation stressful but I just reflected on how typical it was that this would happen on my last shift, laughed nervously because the chef was looking at me like ‘are you actually this stupid?’, and then went to collect the mop.
The drama with the dishwasher didn’t stop there though. About an hour after this incident, I was down to about two boxes of dirty plates, and three large baking tins when I decided that I was done with things coming out of the washer dirty. I’d already cleaned it out and that hadn’t helped, so I turned the thing off.
This sounds like the stupidest thing to do, but the water was black and when you turn it off, it drains the water and replaces it with clean stuff. Makes sense really, well it does if you discount the fact it then takes like 40 (or more, I’m not really sure) minutes to reheat and turn back on.
With the dishwasher out of action, the floor supervisor moved me over to the pass. This meant I was running food and rolling napkins around cutlery. I’m not that great at serving. Customers make me nervous, and up until Wednesday I didn’t really know what I was supposed to say to them or how to carry more than one plate. After three months of working at the cafe, I finally found how to do all this. Thanks guys, *face hits palm*.
After messing up a couple of orders (sorry to those people I served), the dish washer sorted itself out and I was back on KP duty faced with a whole pile of washing. There were that many boxes that the kitchen was almost inaccessible. By the time I cleared most of this, with a brief stint were I was put back on the pass to cover someones break, it was nearly 4pm and I was dying. Bearing in mind the last time I’d eaten anything was at 10am, the fact I was still operating was some sort of miracle.
Ten minutes after I decided my break was due, something magical happened. The floor supervisor came round and asked me what kind of food I wanted for my break. However, he didn’t just ask the standard question, ‘what kind of soup or toastie do you want’, oh no, he handed me the customer menu and said pick whatever you want. BEST MOMENT EVER.
I picked a chicken burger. They cook this on a grill pan and it has smoked me out of the kitchen enough times, I really wanted to see if it the taste was worth all the coughing.
Turns out all the smokey drama is actually worth it. Guys, it was beautiful.
I also got a vanilla milkshake. Work laugh at the amount of white hot chocolates I consume on a shift, and this was the perfect iced version of it.
It might not sound it but as far as shifts go, this one was going pretty well.
On top of this, it was such a beautiful day, and all the flowers were out in the garden.
I was pretty buzzed off how amazing my lunch was so the rest of my shift passed by quickly with only one more incident. This ‘incident’ happened when one box of plates and glasses balanced on another fell over and dramatically spilled its contents everywhere. But let’s not dwell on that moment because it smashed quite a lot of glass, an amount that probably wasn’t a good note to leave on. Oh well… occupational hazard I guess.
My close wasn’t that great, and by not great I mean someone had to help me clean up so I’d leave at 8:30pm (on time) rather than 9pm (late). I had been determined to close up really well, but that didn’t happen. Luckily no one seemed to mind and after work we shared a few beers, ate some grapes, and gossiped under a hot lamp.
The last couple of weeks have been particularly busy, but my last shift ended up being better than anything I could have ever of imagined. It was such a nice way to say goodbye to everyone. When I came in that morning, I wasn’t expecting anything special and, like I said before, I ended up being proven wrong. It also never crossed my mind that people would even contribute to a card, I’d only been at the cafe for about three months, so when T handed me this, I was almost overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all.
The Jungle Giants, No One Needs To Know
–Just loving this track atm
P.s. Derren Brown did come into the café a couple of weeks ago, as did Andrew Lincoln. I didn’t get to interact with either of them. Talk about a wasted opportunity. Damn.