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This is a question Work Experience

We've got a work experience kid in for a couple of weeks and he'll do anything you tell him to... He's was in the server room most of yesterday monitoring the network activity lights - he almost missed his lunch till we took pity on him.

We are bastards.

How bad was your first experience of work?

(, Thu 10 May 2007, 9:45)
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This is rather long sorry, but its a theraputic process writing this down. This is all true, no matter how made up it sounds. Believe me, I was a mess by the end.

First real job I had was working as a waiter/general dogsbody in a small hotel in Portugal. I'd basically got the job on the strength of my speaking Portuguese (I'd just spent 6 months living in Rio de Janeiro - spent the millenium there woo! - working at a school helping kids learn English), and the fact I was willing to be lowly paid as it would get me out of the UK before I went to University the following September.

Anyway, I arrived at the hotel, very nice location, the owners seemed a bit odd, but the rest of the staff (2 Australians and an English guy) seemed nice enough. I move into my room, and start work the next day.

The hotel had a sunken veranda out the back, behind the kitchen, that was covered by a corrugated iron roof. First day I'm working in the kitchen Liz* the Aussie cook, asks me to go and get some more butter from the freezer, as there was almost none left. She also warned me to be careful of the owl.

OK, I think, theres an owl that lives near the freezer and I have to be careful. I go to the chest high freezer, open it, see the butter underneath a shapeless mass of plastic bags. Easy, I think, picking up the plastic bags.

They felt odd. I unwrapped them to find a dead barn owl. In the freezer. I sincerely, wholeheartedly, promise you I'm not making this up. The owner was a big bird fan and had found the owl dead by the side of the road and wanted to get it stuffed... only he hadn't got the time so decided to put it on ice, as it were.

Things went downhill from there.

One week we had a party of 7 German couples on marriage guidance stay. Firstly, they would have massive screaming arguments in German at all times, secondly they rutted like rabbits whenever they got the chance (ever tried clearing away plates from the 'romantic' veranda when two Germans are humping on the table?), thirdly, being German, they came in to dinner and to the bar in ridiculously small speedos - one guy of about 60 had a leopard print pair.

Shortly after this the owner decided staff quarters would be knocked into one large room so he could fit a pinball machine in. We spent a week knocking walls down, and then discovered that there was actually no where for us to now sleep. The two aussies slept in the back of the car for about a month, before climbing on the roof and knocking a hole into the hotels attic so they could sleep. The new canadian gardener built a shack next to the chicken pen, and I was given a scythe, a candle and a tent, and taken to a small patch of ground 1km from the hotel, where I could "pitch [my] tent without bothering the guests." I had to scythe down the knee high scrub, and then level the ground out. I slept there for 4 months. I took a thermometer in there once - it got to 55C during the day.

What else? Oh the other English guy got the sack whilst we were building a boathouse - he tried to behead the owner with a spade.

We were hired out to clean a cowshed - still in out waitering whites. 8 hours late my trousers were ruined and we all stank of cowshit for the next week.

I painted their house, walked and de-flea'd their dogs, and babysat their children, as well as fixing the generator (I was, at the time, 19, and a prospective history student) and their tv, and on one memorable occasion, covering for them to the Portuguese police.

The owner would also tell me, in lurid details and at random times, all about his sex life. He and his wife did far too many drugs and were masters at fucking with your head. She became convinced that I was trying to kill her and told the other members of staff this. For one whole week she either avoided me, or carried a stick, or on one memorable occasion an axe, to, as she put it, "fight Zapiola off."

By the end of it all, we were working 18 hour days, although the longest I worked was 6am to 9pm straight, then 9.30pm to 4am straight, then back up at 6am to serve breakfast to a pair of departing Americans.

The single worst moment was burying one of their dogs. It fell in the lake and drowned, and we were told to bury it. The ground was rock hard and even with a pick axe it took ages to dig a hole. When we tried to put the dog in it had gone into rigor mortis and we couldn't fit it in the hole. I had to hold it still whilst the other guy broke its legs with a spade so that we could squash it into its grave. The sound of wet dog leg snapping, and then twisting, will probably haunt me forever.

I realised, along with the Aussies, that I should leave, when my daily diet consisted of marijuana and whisky for breakfast, tequila at 10am, whisky at noon with some tuna (we were allowed to eat tuna and chickpeas, and whatever was left over from the guests meals - but we were forbidden on pain of death from using salt, pepper, or balsamic vinegar on the grounds they were expensive), then continued the drinking and smoking all through the day.

We all quit on the same day, told the owners to go fuck themselves, and drove from Portugal to the UK, stopping off in northern Spain for a break.

Almost 6 months I was there. Can you guess how much I was paid a day?

£3... or 23p an hour on the longer days.

Ah... to be young, naive, and high most of the time again.
(, Sat 12 May 2007, 1:50, Reply)

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