First I found a job at a restaurant as a waitress. Working as a waitress with a master’s degree from a fine university in Australia would be unthinkable in Turkey. Where I come from, waiting tables pays very little and it is even seen as a demeaning job for a well educated person, a perception I could never understand. That is why I told few people back home when serving food to customers turned out to be my starting point on the new continent. I thought that that was the point where I could finally observe some improvement in my standards. After all, in many American or Canadian movies, people seem to be somehow able to survive on a waiter’s wage. Well, soon I found out that though the pay was much better than what I would have earned in Turkey, it still turned out to be too close to minimum wage and tips didn’t make much difference. Apparently, whenever I chose to eat out, the waiters/waitresses could easily express their frustration if I ever tipped less than 15% and demanded more but when I started working, demanding more was not an option.
Things got even weirder when I found out that the owner of the restaurant, a divorced mother had led a difficult life which probably had contributed to her being a difficult and maybe a little bit of an abusive boss. After a couple of months I spent there, not going back home for my grandfather’s sudden funeral simply because I had promised to work there while she was on vacation in Cuba, after helping the mother and her kid with homework that they took hours to do and trying to be positive no matter what, when I announced that I had finally been recruited for the translation job I had been telling her about, she refused to realize that I would be leaving the restaurant and that she would have to put a job announcement for a new waiter if she did not wish to be doing it herself. When I finally did leave, working in both jobs for two weeks, in other words spending every moment I was awake working just to be able to say goodbye to the restaurant owner in a friendly atmosphere, she did make an announcement. I was announced a “foe” and the one time I had to step back in there afterwards, stepping in from 12 degrees below zero, I wanted be out on the street again to warm my spine. So that was a few months’ “close” friendship wasted. My first professional experience and first person I thought I could call a friend ended in dismay. The only relief of this outcome was that by the end, I had accepted for a fact that a friendship with her was not an easy one to maintain and would require a lot of sacrifice on my part with little appreciation in return.
Nevertheless, the new translation job was my new bundle of hope!