“I’m sooo tired, I don’t know what to do. I’m sooo tired my mind is set on you…”.
John Lennon. Legend, musical genius and voice of a generation. Fuck that. Lazy, whiney hypochondriac. Don’t get me wrong the man knew how to write a song and I think the Beatles are grand. But when stars of that magnitude start to complain about fatigue and misery then I can’t stand idly by. Back in the day before the world broke me I really respected these guys. All your Lennon’s and Cobain’s. Troubled geniuses speaking out about their world experience. It must have been so tough. Often I listened and felt for these stars plight. Contractually forced to endlessly tour spending every day in a new place while never seeing their loved ones. Then I started working events catering.
Every day I am contractually forced to work in some new place without ever seeing my loved ones. Suddenly the misery of these titans of rock got a bit lost in translation to me. The Hollywood Bowl one night then Madison Square gardens the next you say? Try the Barclays Bank Hospitality one day then the UCL cafeteria the next. Listen up guys. Once you have gone through 700 plates of chicken bones and polished 1000 forks then playing a solo in front of legions of beautiful fans seems quite reasonable by comparison. I would take it.
So today the same scene greets me. The rat traps mark the way to staff changing. Hospitality is nothing but a thin veneer of respectability hiding a plethora of poor hygiene and individuals bored to tears by what they do. They haven’t ordered aprons for a while so I take an old one from the linen bag, from the smell I can tell that the chefs have been scaling fish recently.
One of the rat traps is out of position. A large black beast lies snared in its iron vice. On closer inspection under the dull halogen bulb I see that the trap has split the rat almost in two, a female rat. I know this due to the fact her unborn young have been unceremoniously splattered across the linoleum by the velocity of the device. I leave the room but I knew that it would fall to me, the casual staff, to clear up this little scene at some point.
They grey people have arrived. People with real jobs in boring multi-numbered companies that I don’t know or care about. They call it a business breakfast, a pointless, flattering attempt to be pseudo-American and classy. It is a chance to impress and schmooze, to seal and deal and many other business clichés. What it actually is reheated croissants served by a waiter whose hands are so fucked from chemical soap that he doesn’t wash them after delivering a fetid, alcohol infused shit in the morning. This man is me.
The soul destroying aspect of the work isn’t actually the work itself. It is menial, sure, but you know what you are in for when you take the shift, a never ending series of service lifts and dimly lit store cupboards, constantly setting and resetting the crockery collages that you have taken such time to look presentable but guests take even less time to destroy. No the real issue is the loneliness. Between shifts there is hour upon hour of solitude while you reset rooms and conference suits.
The grey people are talking about badges this morning. One of them, enthusiastically, relates a tale of yesterday’s business breakfast where, I understand, the quality of name badges was outstanding. The other grey person agrees and they compare and contrast the various institutions that provide a laminated identity tag. A pointless tag that seems to add some slight variation to the sea of tailored suits and Topshop tops. They’ve been talking about it for fifteen minutes before they notice me.
The small one, all ringlets and slap, then acknowledges my presence with a catty laugh.
“Sorry this must all sound so boring to you.”
I look beside me at the 24 foot table replete with 350 identically polished water glasses arranged in neat diamond-like rows. I see the ranks of tea cups, position with military precision and the tea chest containing no fewer that 25 types of tea. Boring darling? You do not know the meaning of the word.