A short story/rant about my time working at a children’s play area in a family restaurant.

This day can’t possibly get any worse.

Oh wait.

It can.

All I have to do is stand there, right? Just stand there, take people’s money and let the children into the play area. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

No.

Try standing on the same spot for nine and a half hours. Needless to say, my feet hurt.

I turn up for work and, first of all, I have to decipher what my colleague is saying. This isn’t her fault; she’s French, there’s really no cure for that (despite centuries of breeding). Anyway, she updates me on the morning’s events, how much cleaning she hasn’t done and so on. I make a mental list of what there is to do to keep me busy for the next nine to ten hours.

My shift starts at midday and finishes at ten o’clock. During that time I take people’s money and – surprise – I let children into the play area. There’s more to it than that, though. Oh god is there more to it than that…

1)      Contending with people who get offended by our prices. They come up to me wanting to get the kids out of their hair for a while. They’ve had their food and now they want their peace and quiet. But, before that, they have to pay the one pound entry price. Yes, a pound. Extortion, isn’t it? C’mon people, the recession’s not for another seven years!

There was this one chap earlier on, god he looked sour. He asked for a Froot Shoot drink for the small boy at his side. I get the flavour he wants and hand it over. “Three pounds fifty, please.” I say with a smile. He’s not smiling.

“Three pounds fifty for a drink!” he says.

“No, sir”, I say, “It’s two-fifty for the drink and a pound to go in the play-area.”

I’m still smiling.

He hesitates. I maintain eye contact yet, out of the corner of my eye, I see that the child has grabbed and opened the drink. Mouth clamped over the top, he stares up at his father.

(I knew he wasn’t going to buy the drink. Most people had the exact same reaction. I’ve seen it a dozen times before.)

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