“Guten Morgen…..erm……I was wondering if you require anyone for in the kitchen?”
The answer to this question was met with either confusion,rejection or just plain rudeness. Looking for a job is always a chore no matter which country you are in. I had doubts about hitting the Italian restaurant literally ten steps from my front door. Why? Well its ten steps from my front door and whatever I may end up doing in my own nest (possibly shitting) I didn’t want it on my doorstep. However after no luck in other places I didn’t see the harm in it. At least I wouldn’t have it on my conscience that I didn’t even try there.
I knocked back a coffee,shoved on my nicest clothes and put on my glasses. I headed across and entered with an extremely fake confidence.
“Hallo. I have just moved in across the street from Scotland and wondering if there was any work in the kitchen available?”
I was greeted by two Italian men who didn’t speak English very well.
“What do you do? What do you want?” replied the older of the two men.
“Well I am looking for work….erm…….Kuchen oder……..ermm…..” I said.
“I am the chef! I do the cooking” he replied. He had a half-hearted scan through my CV with a sense of formality.
“Ahhhhhh Pappagallos! That is us. Italian” he said.
“Ermm…..great!…..so i’ve just moved in across the street and……”
I got cut off.
“Ok.OK. Tomorrow you………emm………..Wednesday……..at emmm……halb sieben…..no no no!…..halb sechs…..you come here….and I see you……..I see you and if I like…..you work……but ehhhhhhhhhh here………….very good food.It is mine.I am the chef! You no the chef.You come,I see…..and………ok?”
I bit his hand off.
“Of course! tomorrow half five. Cool. No problem.Your name? Massimo.Great. I will wear?………………White. Ok danke. Tomorrow. See you then!”
As easy as that. After only two minutes of leaving the house I got something. I was happy. I hate looking for work and always feel like im asking people to sell me heroin or donate an organ for my dying child. I just never have an air of confidence and always feel like I sound desperate. I always seem to generate an air of interest though and ten to land on my feet one way or another.
Monday came. I bought a white polo from some expensive store,somehow missing ‘H & M’s’ around the corner. I had already brought over chef trousers from back home and a pair of old trainers.Which by the way never used to be old. My Adidas Forest Hills 72’s are the best pair of trainers I’ve ever bought. Perfect for all occasions and even after their prime are the best pair of flat football shoes I’ve ever had,and are still doing my well three years on.
I was ready to go and left the house early to show I was keen. As I left I bumped into Massimo carrying a box of fruit and veg.
“Ahhhhhh Darren! Good good.Emmm…..tonight is eh…..not so good…….no busy…..tommorow you come?”
Tomorrow was no good and neither was the following days. I had plans to go to Munich. I managed to barter for Monday and we had the same chat as we did before. I was pretty annoyed but I totally understood. The way of the industry is if you aren’t busy,then there isn’t much reason for you to be there. However I would have liked to of at least seen the kitchen and had a chat just to reaffirm my willingness to work.However – that didn’t happen and I went to Munich hoping on Monday being a banker.I left thinking if Wednesday wasn’t busy – then how will Monday be?
As I left the house on the Monday a spot of deja vu came along. I bumped into Massimo again carrying a box of fruit and veg.
“What do you want? You tell me” he said.
I gave him the same spiel as I did the following days. He ushered me into the kitchen to drop off the box. We then went and bought more as he explained just how good these vegetables was and how good a chef he was.
Massimo lived up to the Italian stereotype but not in a bad way. He was cocky,confident – full of charisma and hand gestures but very likeable.He was very confusing and contradicting with the information he was giving me. I did my best to follow his instructions but as his English was pretty bad and as was my German, I could see problems ahead. What I did know is that if I worked hard and did what I was told,I would be looked after.
“Soooooooo……….(he usually starts a sentence with this) I am the chef and you no. Ok? And emmm……you must respect me. I no want you to blah blah blah (he used a comical face and acted out me talking too much with his hands). You work…..ok…I will like….you no? Then I no need you. Ok? My food is the best in konstanz.Everything you see (he picks up a tomato) fresh.Everything! Fresh. Ok? Ok. Soooooooooooooo…..”
The first job he got me doing was moulding pizza dough into perfect balls. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be absolutely useless at this and he would be quicker doing it himself. I gave it my best shot. I thought I was doing pretty well untill I was interrupted by his brother (the other Italian on my first visit). He was a taller man with a constant smile upon his face and again – full of character. I had seen him everyday since being in Konstanz.He is always outside the restaurant smoking and since I came in for the job initially – always gave me a wave or a smile.
“Awwwwwwww no….You no make pizza the Italian way!” he laughed in a friendly manner.
He finished my batch with amazing flare and I appreciated the show and tell, as Massimo just left me to my devices presuming I was Gordon Ramsey.
The day went without a hitch.Most of it was spent doing dishes but Massimo showed me a few things. He didn’t ask me anything. He was more eager to see if I could do the job or not. I could tell he didn’t want to waste his time. I was worried I was slightly over my head but as the day went on I felt comfortable. I liked him.And that helps a lot.
As I was leaving his brother (whose name still escapes me) came up to me with a spring in his step. His English was very limited.
“My frau…ehhh….my wife…..she ehhh…..lost.You know? (I didn’t. I imagined his wife wandering around a dark forest looking for somewhere to make camp) She…..season six? She likes…..She needs lost. You see?Can you?……Do you?…….emm……”
“Ahhhh you would like me to get lost season six for you?” I said.
It was no problem.
“YES! Fablisimo!Thank you so much!” He said as he gave me a firm handshake and a packet of cigarettes for my troubles.
Massimo wanted me back the next day. He wanted another look at me. I didn’t mind the job. I feel ok in the kitchen. However it’s gotten to a stage with me that I know I could do something else and I desperately do. But with the language barrier I know I had to stick to what I know in order to get by. If it meant being a scrubber for another year then so be it. Afterall money is money – and untill I sort my shit out – it will have to do.
The following shift came and went and it and had the same theme as before.
‘You respect me – and I will respect you’. No bother. Even if I wanted to tell him to fuck himself I wouldn’t know the words too in German or Italian. I’ll just do what I’m told then. There was one cracker of a conversation I must share though that still has me chuckling to this day.Massimo had just finished telling me that he liked me and liked my work. I acknowledged the compliment and said thank you. He responded with a tirade of “I don’t give you compliments! I don’t tell you nice things ok? I speak you listen. No chat!”
Ok man. Thanks for kind words.
I’ve now completed my first week of work at ‘La Cucina’. It’s fine.The brother got his series of lost and i got another packet of ciggerettes for my effort. The only problem I have is it will only be part-time in the meantime but Massimo has already said that he will “see what I do” when it comes to extra hours. He already had me helping his wife out cleaning rooms in the hotel (he owns the restaurant and the hotel) By the way that was soul destroying.I make an ugly maid.Nothing like the hot Latinos you see on porn hub.On Saturday night he asked me if I liked it there. If he had asked me if I could put up with it, then I could have given him an honest answer but as it was I said “yes – of course”. He replied with “Well – i like your work. I see a future here for you. You are now apart of the family. Anything you need – we are your family now”
I thought that was very nice of him to say and I very much appreciated it. So as it stands I’ve went from a family run Italian restaurant back home to a family run Italian restaurant in Germany. Not the way to escape. But at least i feel comfortable in my surroundings in a short space of time which counts for a big part in moving to a new Country.
The ball continues to roll – albeit – in the same direction.