The alarm went off at five as usual and, unwilling as I was on a last meal of beer and vodka, I stoically made my way to work.
The hotel was situated a little out of town on some old waste ground by a golf course, a redeveloped patch of forgotten land that now posed as class. Just like the rest of the fucking town of St. Andrew’s.
I entered through the side entranced reserved for all the essentials of the hotel but unbeknown to guests, a small portal in the wall in between the generators and the walk-in fridge. It opened onto the industry standard of service corridors of dirty laundry and rotting vegetables all piled atop one another, like some nascent city, steadily rising out of the luminous linoleum, it greeted me with a due sense of dread each morning. Every day the human waste piled higher and my resolve got weaker.
The end of the corridor was always the same, a door made of those horrible see-through Perspex strips that usually are more at home in abattoirs. These led into the damp infested, argon lit, changing area.
This was where the day began.
This time was a little different though as my line manager, Radovan, was standing there apparently waiting for me. This could never be a good thing.
I checked the time. I wasn’t late.
I checked my beard. Still couldn’t grow one.
I checked my breath and quietly thanked the hard-working workers at Trebor.
So what did he want? I was far from the model worker but, generally, I kept myself to myself, did my hours and went home. What I mean by this is that I would often clock in, sleep in the linen room or the guest toilets before helping myself to a generous portion of the club lounge breakfasts. Maybe my time was finally up. I didn’t care. If he gave me my P45, I could be back in bed my nine.
Then his rage filled face blurted out, his accent a Slavic drawl with a solid comprehension of English garnered entirely from Northeast Scotland. There is no voice more sinister in the world.
“Why you use this door? This is wrong door, you use staff entrance like everybody else.”
Oh, didn’t expect that.
“But, Radovan I thought this was the staff entrance. I’ve been using it for months.”
“Don’t lie me! Don’t you take piss of me!” Mid-level management incarnate, unreasonable and unable.
“Seriously Radovan, I don’t even know where the staff entrance is then, I genuinely thought this was it. Maybe you can show me?”
It was then that he called me an insolent dog.
I thought to myself, “That was pretty offensive” but on further reflection figured that he was probably right. At least he didn’t use management speak of “team players” and all that tripe. Christ, I hadn’t even got a disciplinary, just an unreasonable dressing down from a Serbian guy who was my boss. Ironically, I still had no idea where the staff door was, today probably not being the best time to ask him.
Radovan was an archetypal example of the myth surrounding eastern Europeans here in the UK. The butt of all 90’s jokes was that of the Polish roofer or Slovak plumber but this was 25 years ago. These people aren’t fucking stupid, and during the time that middle class Britain quietly objected to immigration while having loft extensions added at bargain prices, these guys were following the patronisingly easy path to mid-level management.
Don’t drink too much on shift.
Buy a suit.
Learn how to complete a p46 form.
Now they’re in charge. At the hotel all management were from Eastern Europe or the Balkans and I imagine that in many other sectors those that were once the punch line, now punch gloves with the best of them. They own the plumbing business/ hotel/ bank. Sure their staff are maybe from the same places but they are here and following the same well trodden path to employment seniority that has been going on for literally a generation now.
Because British people, myself included, are complacent retards who still genuinely believe that we are still living in the 1870’s. The virtue of coming from a rain-soaked shithole on the periphery of Europe, allows a smooth transition to success. Now the redcoats are restricted to Butlin’s and the “Empire where the sun never sets” is an ironic reminder to the contrary.
They go into shock when presented with the fact that swathes of Europeans can both do their job better than them while speaking grammatically superior English at the same time. Radovan and his lieutenant Stevie, a Scot, were both wankers, that was clear. However, Radovan quickly became “that Polish wanker” (despite the fact he was actually from Serbia). Stevie was faced with an interesting juxtaposition. He was unable to supersede Radovan, due to his crippling ineptitude and coke habit, but in the grand scheme of hate, he remained comfortably below his Slavic superior.
With the EU referendum rapidly approaching, it seems like a good time to break down the issue at heart. If Brexit happens, a fact which will cause the same amount of consternation as the touring bassist leaving Oasis, we must address a quandary.
Where do you want the wankers who are in charge to come from? The answer is easy.
It doesn’t matter in any way. Wankers are wankers.
Cover image courtesy of Oona Räisänen via Flickr
Read Laurence’s take on nightclubs in Scotland here