A Taste of the Real World
By Adjoa Wiredu

The floor was slicked with oil. Two, three, four times and the team still slid around the slippery varnish in the back kitchen; my mop did not make a difference. It was hot. In the middle of the summer months when it started off bright and the days ended muggy and stale. I wore a uniform; a stiff blue shirt, dark trousers, and a cap with a large yellow “M” on the front. That was the summer I finally got a job after the euphoria that came with the end of my GCSEs.

In three months, I learned about shifts; what it meant to be sleep-working the early- and the horror of late-night closing. I learned about timers for filet-o-fish and fries and the only rule to remember: listen out for the beep. I learned customer service; the magical smile to open up each sale and the toothy grins saved for complaints. I learned about true exhaustion; dosing off on the bus ride home and the effort it would take to move my jelly-like legs once I got off.

After my second pay-slip, I realised I wouldn’t last. On my days off I applied for other jobs motivated by the memory of smells that would waft out of the female toilets. I only had to think of the number of times I cleared the tables and re-cleared the tables; moped the floors and re-moped the floors to know I wouldn’t last. Even then, I knew that the greasy tables and the greasy floors would stay that way long after I left.

IMAGE: “Hamburger” by Andy Warhol (1985).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adjoa Wiredu is a Masters student at the University of Kent on an inter-disciplinary writing degree entitled The Contemporary. She has an interest in social issues and the arts. Her work is focused on the development of writing and curating. Her first paid job was with Mcdonalds, where she grew up very quickly and learned a lot about people and the world of work. Visit her at marigoldroadblog.com and theearththedirt.wordpress.com.