When I was a teenager the only way I could find of raising money to feed my vinyl addiction was to work. Not work like adults do though, teenagers have all the most special jobs reserved for them, the ones that pay less than the minimum wage and no self respecting adult wants to do. Even adults with no self respect don’t want to do a lot of those jobs to be honest.
At various times I have unloaded and loaded newspaper lorries at four in the morning, cleaned out ice cream machines, walked up and down sandy beaches selling ice cream and shown people to their seats in darkened cinemas. (The trick is to inadvertently turn the torch away just as people get to the step so you can watch them stumble in the dark – serve them right for not getting there in time!)
But far and away the best worst job was when me and my friend Steve got a job working in a restaurant. Between us we had to clear tables, load the dishwasher, wash pots, wipe surfaces, sweep up, eat ice cream sandwiches in the larder when it was quiet (mint choc chip!) and generally be at the beck and call of the idiot boss Terry whose parents had bought the business for him as a successful going concern – a situation he was desperately trying to reverse.
Amongst our many jobs was the task of helping the chef keep the salad bar fresh and well stocked while he got on with the cooking. Chopping tomatoes, boiling and shelling eggs, washing lettuce and slicing cucumber. At busy times this could be quite a task and speed was of the essence. Because of this, one night Terry told Steve (other Steve, not me) to hurry things up by using the big meat slicer to cut the cucumber instead of doing it by hand.
I was over by the dishwasher, the first I realised what was happening was when Steve shouted out:
“F*cking b*llocks, I’ve just cut my f*cking fingers off” and started walking across the kitchen clutching a hand dripping with blood. Chef was quick thinking and grabbed a tea towel to wrap around it while he went to the office to call an ambulance, muttering in a way only chefs can about bloody kids messing about with his bloody meat slicer..
Terry chose this moment to come back into the kitchen. He quickly appraised the situation and after taking stock of what was happening coolly announced:
“I’ll do the f*cking cucumber myself then shall I?”
He then picked up the bowl of cucumber/fingers and took it out to the counter.
I retrieved the bowl, threw in a handful of ice and sent it off with Steve. As it turned out it was only (!?) the tips of two of his fingers and he lived to tell the tale. My time at the restaurant was quite short-lived after that, that’s another story. But I do miss the ice cream sandwiches.