This excellent piece from the guardian is the tip of the iceberg and it’s such a shame so little has changed since I was a gel. I was a waitress for many years, in a planet far away. My first ever job was at “Grandfather’s Moustache” – what seemed in those days to be a fabulous Italian restaurant run by Greeks. After 5 weeks I got the sack – first and last time. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sacked for slapping the chef and co-owner every time he groped my 17 year-old arse. And I wasn’t sacked for the free food and drink I provided for my friends. I was sacked for ringing up an hour before my shift to call in sick. It was a good lesson to learn early on.
Sexual harassment was a very regular occurrence. I later worked in a restaurant where the signature dish was turkey breast – oh how original were the gibes. I even worked temporarily in a disco – yes, smartfoodmama is senior! This, I should add has earned me considerable cred with my students. Go figure: “yes, there was a mirror ball, yes the dance-floor lit up…”. Moving through the crowds I was once grabbed Trump style. I know I sent the cretin flying with my one free hand and the bouncers were happy to finish the job. In truth I was treated more respectfully by the merry band of gangsters running the place then by so-called hospitality professionals in years to come. I’ll always cherish this comment from the owner (read in heavy Balkan accent) “I like you, you good gel, you work with your brayn not your bum”.
Story three: Desperate for work I did a day’s trial in a large commercial seafood house of horror. Wandering in to the kitchen the very first comment from the chef to a waitress picking up a plate was: ”That’s not your meal you stupid f’ing c”. I worked through lunch but didn’t come back for the second shift.
There are many aspects of life in 2016/17 which should have been done away with back then, when I was a gel. That’s why I still call myself a feminist – yes “we’ve come a long way baby” – some of the boys need to catch up.