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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Some note on my waitressing experience

As you may remember, in May I stopped working at the restaurant and had a rant about it on my blog
Soon afterwards I started writing for Trẻ magazine, and in July, used my own experience to write about the working conditions in 1 Vietnamese restaurant in Oslo, which was published on 27/7. The article was shared around and apparently became a thing in the Vietnamese community in Oslo, at least among the restaurant people, and reached the owner of the restaurant, my former boss. She called me last Saturday, 30/7. The conversation lasted about half an hour- long story short, she spoke of the reactions in the community and their fear of its effect on the restaurant business, explained several points in the article, tried to justify herself, spoke of things I'd said at the beginning, asked why I included so many details, said she didn't remember such trifles, noted that other restaurants of Vietnamese people paid their employees the same salaries and of course wouldn't be the same as Norwegian restaurants, on the 1 hand, wanted to put me down and made it personal, on the other hand, asked me to understand and sympathise, and tried to sweet-talk me into taking down the article. 
(That was a surprise. I rather expected some furious insults). 
I did say it's not personal- if I had really wanted a revenge, I would have filmed or recorded her and taken it to the Norwegian media or even the tax agency, or at least named the restaurant and included photos of it in my article. 
On the same day, 2 girls from the restaurant contacted me. For 1 thing, many of my former co-workers have read the article, and like it- it's all correct, they said. They even asked why I didn't publish in a Norwegian newspaper*. 
More importantly, the boss called the restaurant to ask how people felt about working for her, and over the past few days, has been nicer and more gentle than usual. She even asked 1 of the 2 girls about her pay, and decided to raise it herself. 
I'm too cynical and pessimistic to believe that 1 article of mine can change a person- she's 60 years old, but it feels good anyway. At least I made her think a bit. 


*: To be truthful, I wanted to bring down the whole restaurant. Then I contacted Arbeidstilsynet and realised that Norwegian's law is actually fucked up, and didn't bother... That article I wrote mostly for the fun of it. 

34 comments:

  1. Way to go, girl! I am glad for you!

    Even i wrote a scathing letter (more a rant, really) to my ex yesterday ... Feeling like a cad now! :p

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    Replies
    1. Hey.
      I've just read your blog post now. Give me your facebook link (if you have an account) or email address.

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    2. Sorry, not on facebook. Here is the email id: nicrap@gmail.com
      What's up? Am i in trouble? ;)

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    3. I just noticed some punctuation mistakes. Sorry you had to read it like that.

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    4. Haha. It's all right.
      I'll send you an email later. It's just that I don't want to write everything in public.

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    5. Oh, you are welcome to write. But why can't you do it in public? I mean wouldn't that be ideal?

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  2. HA the power of the press strikes again... it's great you got some satisfaction... i've thought about your description off and on and regretted the fact that so many have to live in situations like that... a little justice goes a long ways in this world... sometimes...

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  3. Di, I commiserate. My days of waiting on people in restaurants -- long ago back in the 70s -- allow me to understand the good, bad, and ugly servers encounter every day. BTW, old women were the worst to wait upon. I hope I do not offend anyone with that assault upon political correctness.

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  4. Hey yo.
    I've just returned from Athens.

    nicrap,
    What happened afterwards? :p

    Mudpuddle,
    The funniest part was when the boss said when I wrote such things, many people would be scared and wouldn't want to work in a Vietnamese restaurant any more, etc. etc., and I was like "k, yeah, but did I make anything up?". Haha.

    Tim,
    Why old women? :D

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    1. it really sounds like you made them think about what they are doing... excellent!

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    2. Oh. She has written again. Did i ever say that she was no longer an Indian? I stand corrected. She has ripped into me, word for word. Rant is not even a word for it.

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    3. Mudpuddle,
      That didn't last long. An article can't change a person. It affected her for a few days and that's it- everything would return to normal soon if it hasn't already.
      I thought of writing another article but now wouldn't bother.
      Oh well. I've just had a great time in Greece.

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    4. i've always heard it was wonderful... i'd be a bit hesitant to go during periods of social unrest, tho... about the article: planting a seed sometimes produces a weed, sometimes a rose...

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    5. In Athens, I was with friends and did a few risky things I couldn't have done had I been there with my mom, as I usually am on my vacations.
      1 of them was going to Exarchia, the most dangerous neighbourhood in Athens, full of anarchists, criminals and drug addicts and generally avoided by the police.

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    6. sounds like material for another article...

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    7. Haha, no.
      Nothing happened at Exarchia, and the other stuff were too private to write about.

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    8. She is a regular sinner, i tell you. :)

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    9. Di, I worked as a waiter at a country club, and the "old" women gathered for card parties and lunch; many (most) counted out their tips from the little coin purses and only reluctantly surrendered meager amounts for a lot of service. Hey, I was young and hostile to old people; I never thought about becoming one someday. I've never forgotten the miserly women. My tipping is -- according to my wife -- far too generous because I do not want to be as parsimonious as those old birds at the country club.

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    10. "I never thought about becoming one someday."
      Hahahahaha.

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  5. nicrap,
    Oh she got a new citizenship or?

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  6. Oh, i was referring to something in my blogpost:

    Don’t know what I minded more, that she wanted to stop all communication, or her tone, cool as a cucumber. It must be that damned English weather. She wasn’t like this when she still lived here.

    But she may have a new citizenship. The guy she married is a British. But i can't say for sure.

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  7. boy i wish i read Vietnamese! i looked at your article in Tre; the pictures were quite informative but the text even more so... all those diagrammatical marks! it must be very hard to learn...

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    1. Hahaha.
      I should translate it, but I'm too busy and lazy. Mostly lazy.
      The main points are almost the same as in my earlier post about Norway's laws and a waitress's woes; there are just more details, with stories of some specific incidents showing that my former boss is not simply an average Vietnamese immigrant restaurant owner who exploits her employees' labour, but actually a mean, narrow-minded, stingy, calculating person.
      Maybe some day I'll translate. Maybe...
      And yeah, Vietnamese is hard to learn, I guess. We have 5 diacritics. It's very different from English- we don't have inflections, for example, and the grammar is very loose, as though nonexistent.

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    2. it can't be harder than English, can it? with all it's irregular verbs and colloquial expressions... anyway, i think i'll look for an instruction book on Vietnamese... tx...

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    3. i just ordered "vietnamese for beginners" on the net... now we'll see what happens, if i can get my old brain behind it...

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    4. All right. Tell me what you think.
      Personally I think English's a relatively easy language. Maybe I shouldn't say because I haven't mastered it, but it's still easier than many languages, except for the spelling vs pronunciation problem. Vietnamese is a messy language, I'd say.

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    5. i disagree. you write better than probably 90% of most English speakers... which alerts me to the fact that it's all relative; knowing a language is not a 100% deal for anyone; communication occurs despite linguistic competence, not because of it... no?

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    6. Haha. You're nice. Thanks.
      Regarding communication, you have a point, but I would get irritated talking for long to someone who's so bad at some language.
      I have a temper.

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    7. well, i don't think it's very good point; in fact, looking at it, i doubt if it means anything... temper can be useful; if directed somehow... understanding that most persons are idiotic either all the time or occasionally, may help... or not...

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    8. Now I don't know what to say.

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    9. just commenting on my own parlous opinions and why i should not burden others with them; rereading the above, i see it wasn't very comprehensible; sorry. sometimes i type without sufficient thought behind the finger action...

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