This post was inspired by Fat Mum Slim's eye-gouging post about the woes of living nearby to a backpackers hostel.
It reminded me of The Worst Job I Ever Had.
It was back when hadn't yet hit twenty years old, so of course I knew absolutely everything there was to know about anything.
Following high school, and before university, I had been working inside the pokey, stinking hot and cigarette-choked office of a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. The chain-smoking owner was an Italian named Mario and the dealings were a thousand shades of dodgy. I had to crawl through a hobbit-sized rickety steel gate to get inside the warehouse, past the mouthy forklift drivers and the stench of rotting fruit.
Unbelievably, this was not the worst job I ever had.
My boyfriend at the time tipped me off that his uncle owned a backpackers hostel and was looking for an Assistant Manager. The hostel was located in
Sydney's King's Cross, a red light district known for little more than druggos and seedy strip clubs. Just a few months prior, one of the backpackers staying at this same hostel had wandered up the street and was killed by an axe murderer in a random attack.
Our room had a small balcony, and as I stepped out onto it on moving day, I noticed a man staring at me, open-mouthed, on a balcony directly opposite ours across the street. I died momentarily when I realised it was my ex-boyfriend, a cheating mongrel who I absolutely could not stand. He waved at me. I shut the balcony door and vowed never to open it again.
My first day of work I slept through my alarm and was woken by the sound of incessant pounding. I groggily opened the door in my pyjamas to be met by the grumpiest man alive: my boyfriend's uncle, who proceeded to yell at me about punctuality. After I threw on some clothes and ran downstairs to meet him, he spent the rest of the day angrily scolding me and I did what any teenager would do in this situation - cried my eyes out.
Most of my job consisted of night duty, and I cannot tell you how utterly disgusting and depressing that was. As the only staff member on duty (plus being all of five-foot-three and skinny as a rake) I had to confront drunken backpackers in the hallways in the early hours of the morning, asking them to please be quiet as they waved their arms at me and yelled profanities. I cleaned up beer and vomit. I regularly woke to the orchestra of singing, shouting and the violent clashes of bottles breaking.
I NEVER WENT OUT. I hadn't really considered the fact that I had sacrificed my every evening for this godforsaken night duty. My days consisted of wandering around Kings Cross, dodging drunks and drug addicts through puffy, sleep-deprived eyes with no money to spend and noone to see, as all my friends were working.
One night I woke to the sound of a man moaning and shouting in total panic and despair. It was one of our residents, who had taken a bad LSD trip and had started to scratch his own skin off. He broke a window and held his hands up in claw shapes and screamed like a Tasmanian Devil. Thank god another manager was on duty at that time and looked after the situation as he was taken away in an ambulance. It was terrifying and I vowed to never try LSD.
The camel's back smashed into a thousand tiny pieces under the weight of a final straw when I was accused of stealing. The takings weren't quite matching the books, so naturally our boss jumped to the conclusion that one of us had to be pinching money. And given the sorry circumstances of the workplace, I suppose the idea wasn't totally preposterous. But I certainly hadn't nicked a dime, and the mere suggestion was enough to send me upstairs packing my bags. I'd had enough of this cr*p. Plus I missed Mario and his fruit.
Within a few weeks Mario had generously accepted me back and I returned to his wafts of smoke, infectious smile, dodgy dealings and lewd comments from his Italian forklift drivers. And not a backpacker in sight. Ahhh... bliss.