I am what you would call, a proud person.
When I cook something, I always like getting compliments on it (in fact, I crave compliments full stop). I never admit that I’m wrong, and I will stick to my principles on pain of death (these include – never wearing skinny jeans, and hating all 3D films on principle – though The Avengers was kind of cool in 3D).
This pride, you might think, would not mesh well with a career that revolves around sucking up to mean tourists, and scrubbing toilets.
Well, it does and it doesn’t. Because you can serve someone and still feel better than them (as I frequently do) because 1. I like to think I treat ‘service people’ with a goodly amount of respect and 2. I am not a raving crazy person who drinks sparkling water with the bubbles stirred out.
It doesn’t because, I am at the bottom a very long, shouty food chain, where anything and everything could wind up being my fault. I’ve now been yelled at on an international scale, which if nothing else is something of an achievement for someone who has never owned a passport.
My pride is also at odds with my thrifty (pikey – as my parents tell me) nature. I would take a half tube of toothpaste home than throw it away – because toothpaste is expensive. I’ve rescued furniture from the side of the road (no mean feat when you don’t actually have a car) raided fly tipping sites and haggled like a weather-beaten sailor at car boot sales.
As for my jobs, I’ve fished fivers out of urinals, out of date food from the kitchens, half used cosmetics from the bedrooms.
As I write this I’m sitting on my bed, eating an almond croissant from La Patisserie Valerie – it’s the size of my hand, and yes, I found it in a bin. Untouched, still wrapped in its paper bag. Before now I’ve found unopened Evian, wedding cake, muffins, cheesecake and coke. And all of these things have made their way home with me.
Free is free after all, and I am a student, saving for my masters, taking care of business and working overtime as well. So right now I’m quite literally living off of the crumbs from the tables of the rich (as well as their discarded breakfasts and pastries).
Because, yes, I’m proud.
But I’m not stupid.