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    This Is Why Relationships in Hospitality Never Work

    Welcome back to Restaurant Confessionals, where we talk to the unheard voices of the restaurant industry from both the front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) about what really goes on behind the scenes at your favourite establishments. This time, we hear from a waitress at a London restaurant about dating while working in hospitality. 

    This is a love story. Kinda. It was the beginning of a lovely relationship—that didn’t actually happen. But it was a sweet beginning and so I look back at that summer with rose-tinted glasses.

    It’s also totally typical of how relationships just don’t work in hospitality.

    The night started off with the junior manager coming up with an ingenious idea: cocaine breaks. Coke breaks when changing the beer barrels.

    We worked in this restaurant-bar in the middle of the city. Lunch times were busy because we were the kind of place that served good, simple food. It was the perfect place for both secretaries to lunch with their friends and their bosses to nip in for a quick bite.

    In the evening, especially on Thursday and Friday night, it was chaos. The tables all got moved back and the bar became five people-deep from 6 PM to 9 PM (at least!). We were right beside a big consultancy company and so all the big, dick-swinging city boys came in. We mainly sold pints of lager and Pinot Grigio, then 9 PM would mean trays of tequila—it was that kind of crowd.  

    Most Friday nights, we would pop pills. It would keep us going, get us pumped. There was always a lot of dancing going on behind the bar. Plus, drugs help you deal with the morons, which is inevitable in the city. But it could get messy, someone would take one pill too many and the whole thing would fall apart with hundreds of guests to be served. Fucking disaster.

    The night started off with the junior manager coming up with an ingenious idea: cocaine breaks. Coke breaks when changing the beer barrels.

    So, this particular Friday night, my manager decided that it all needed to be organised. Pills were a bit of a liability, so why not just do coke? The coke was laid out in the cellar by the beer barrels and we all took turns throughout the night to change the barrels. This was clever, as it meant that we all took turns doing a job we didn’t like. I think that was our manager’s real motive!

    The main outcome of this was that by the end of the night, we were all buzzing but not fucked up—a first. I confess, I would often get excited and swept away with the moment and then be completely wasted and have to go home. Tonight was different. So we headed to one of the big nightclubs nearby (we knew people there so always got straight in—and into the VIP bar).

    There was this really lovely French boy working behind the bar. I had eyed him before and was always too shy, but the steady flow of coke that night gave me the edge to approach him and bat my eyelashes. We talked all night and had a little dance when he was on his break.

    Now the rule with our crew is that we all go home together. Even if you pull, you exchange numbers and meet up another time, sober. It’s a cool rule, it keeps everyone safe, and we look out for each other. We crash out at someone’s house and make sure we’re all OK. So it got to that time when we had to go—but I couldn’t find the guy. We hadn’t swapped numbers yet.

    Oh well, I parked it in the “fun night to remember” box and hoped he’d remember me when we came back.

    On his first break, I gave him a hand job on the dance floor. On his second break, we just snogged. One his third break, we fucked in toilets.

    Our restaurant was closed at the weekend so I would work till close on a Friday night, but open on a Monday morning. This meant a 7 AM start on Monday. Gross. The next Monday, I was putting out the outside furniture, when I see in the distance a guy on a BMX circling around. He disappears, and then reappears at the end of our little road. It’s the bartender!

    He had remembered I opened on a Monday morning and vaguely where I worked, so once he finished at 6 AM that morning at the club, he had ridden around the streets till he found me. It was super cute. I made us a coffee, we sat down and chatted, swapped numbers, then he rode off.

    We texted back and forth but hospitality is such a tough bunch of hours and we worked in such different establishments that we couldn’t actually arrange to meet up. We couldn’t even get the sexting to work (it really doesn’t flow if you have hour-long gaps between each filthy message). But, for three weeks, he would finish his shift on a Monday morning and come visit me for an hour, bring coffee and breakfast, and we would have these mini dates. We’d make out a little—it was PG-rated but it was all so nice.

    Work had been pretty ridiculous, so we hadn’t gone back to the club since. But finally, after three weeks of these morning coffees, we rocked up one Friday night. I made sure I wasn’t too wasted, even though we had pretty much installed the beer barrel coke breaks into our Friday night regime. On his first break, I gave him a hand job on the dance floor. On his second break, we just snogged. One his third break, we fucked in toilets.

    Then he went home to France for a holiday for two weeks and my shifts changed. So we had a few more dance floor dates over the summer, but nothing really happened in the real world—it was just too difficult to organise. Sometimes I do think, If we met properly, we didn’t work in hospitality, would we be married and happy by now? Was he the love of my life?

    I’m still single and he’s in China now, being a DJ.

    As told to Anna Sulang Masing.

    This article was originally published in March 2016.

    Topics: alcohol, bar, bartender, beer, booze, cocaine, coke, drugs, hospitality, love, restaurant, Restaurant Confessionals, sex, wait staff, waiter, waitress