I probably was about 17 or 18 at the time I started looking for a part-time job during school. It was cool, to think that I was able to earn my own pocket money and do something useful during a long break.
It would be nice if I had so much break and just as much money to be able to actually enjoy them. I was very into going out, eating out at restaurants, partying like there’s no tomorrow.
But, I took bus and train everywhere. If we stayed out until 4am after a party, it would be too absurd to take a cab back – we’d rather wait around in McD until 6am for the first train – to go home. What a mess – people were starting their day to go to work, and I was just going home!
I even remember multiple occasions a few years later when I already had a full-time job where I went out til wee hour of the day, snoozed for barely a few hours at a friend’s house, before dragging my ass to the office (with yesterday’s party clothes.)
And I would be miserable that whole day. I would be fighting, physically, to not fall asleep. Of course you would promise yourself you would never ever drink again. But what do you know, you were out again the next night.
What a rebel, you.
Anyway, during this particular break, I was motivated to look for a part-time job. And I got the gig at this ramen restaurant in town. It was a nice joint just outside of Plaza Singapura. Seeing as this was a very popular shopping area, there were always a lot of people around. I was excited to start; I think I was paid like $8/hour which was pretty good at the time.
I had to wear this branded polo shirt and jeans as the uniform, and basically I was taking orders, making drinks, serving the food, clearing tables, handling payment; basic waitressing job, but of course at first it was nerve-wrecking cos I had to memorise all the menu, know the ingredients, recommend the right dishes for the customers. I also had to make the drinks and desserts (ice creams, floats and stuffs like that.)
Pouring beer was my favourite though! HA!
The people I worked with were all very nice; during a shift, there were always at least 2 people on the job, and 2-3 chefs. The chefs were relatively young men; very nice and friendly too.
Most of the times the job was easy, once you know where everything is and you know all the menu. You started spotting regular customers, and you already knew what they were gonna order beforehand. You felt comfortable enough to make conversations with customers. It was pretty fun actually.
The tiring part was when it was packed and you had to keep moving without breaks. You’re constantly taking orders, serving drinks and the food, being called by customers, clearing tables, seating new people in; plus, there were indoor and outdoor dining areas so you had to go in and out too.
I think I was quite lucky; I don’t think I ever spilled any food or drinks on anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever been scolded by customers either. I’m a very friendly and efficient waitress, ok!
My favourite part was when cute guys came in (alone). In those instances, I always rushed out to take care of their orders. *wink*
If you work the night shift, you got to clear the areas too, fold all the chairs and wipe tables, refill sauces, stock up chopsticks and spoons, mop the floors and lock the restaurant. It was my least favourite part of the job, but you gotta do it!
I think I worked there for quite some time, and at one point, I worked so many shifts, even on weekends, almost every day. During those months, I could earn more than $1k per month. Wasn’t bad at all for a poor student!
It was great – and the ramen was genuinely good too. Sometimes, during my day off, I brought my sister or my friends to have lunch or dinner there. Looking back, it was a really good experience and I’m so glad I did it. Every teenager ought to try waitressing once in their life!
I really think it teaches you patience, hard work, social skills, and discipline too. You make new friends too!
After this, I started interning instead. I’ve written about them here; the latest one was probably in my last year of university at an advertising agency.