Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remember That One Time...........

...........when I was working in Australia as a catering assistant for airline food.  Yes, thats exactly what I will be saying and this job will all be a fond memory come another couple months. Right now I am 7 days in with Gate Gourmet, the world's largest independent airline catering, hospitality and logistics company.

 Yes it is not the job I pictured of having here, its not near a beach, (hopefully) wont lead into a future career, and doesnt have much Australia culture behind it, BUT given the circumstances, the job is quite perfect. Althought I wear a white coat and a hairnet, the job at the end of the day pays. The work I do is far from easy. Over the past week, I have gained a lot of respect for most of the workers and their skills. Who would have ever guessed that loading and packing countless meals actually took a decent amount of hand eye coordination and such attention to detail.

By no means do I enjoy this work or look forward to clocking in every shift. This is the most stressful and work demanding job I have had to date, so in that aspect I am learning some great life lessons on how to cope in such an environment.

The first day of work I was just amazed. I was given a tour of the wharehouse and all that goes on. They take care of almost everything during a flight, not just food. In addition to cleaning every tray, cup, rubbish removal, supplying drinks and food, they are responsible for the entertainment systems as well. While on the tour it was very interesting just too see all the things that go on and all that it takes to make a flight successful, you never would really take time to think about it on a normal flight. In the food area for example, the amount of meals that need to be prepared, the special meals, vegetarian, kosher, etc.  While learning all of these things, I was definetely excited to start work.

I was put in the hot meal area, and man was it a bitch.  Every airline has diff foods and specification for how much of ingredients to put in a certain dish. For example, one flight i was responsible for mashed potatoes. If a certain portion is too small or too large customers will complain, with that said, everything has to be perfect. With that comes a time constraint, you cant take your sweet time scooping and placing items onto the dish, there is a flight that needs to take off and cant leave without food.  Being new, i was trying my best but man i was having a hard time.  Most employees are of asian decent and can not speak very good english.  This first guy I worked with kept telling me things that I couldnt understand and he started gettin pisst when I told him I couldnt understand him. And to top that off, he made these "sample plates" that I was supposed to model the portions of food off of, so whenever I put too little or too much food, he would complain and tell me too look at his sample plate.He was gettin very annoyed and I was the same at him.  This happened at least 5 or 6 times-----"look at my sample". I was about to tell him to "sample this" and punch him right in the face. It is all process line work, 2-3 workers working on a single dish, so obviously slow new workers like me slow down the process.  Expectations were pretty high i felt for a first days work.  It was an 8 hour shift and dont really recall what other foods I was doing but its safe to say that it was the worst 1st days work. I questioned all night after I was done how much longer I would last at this job.

Day 2 on the job I was put in the cold food section, which deals with cakes, fruits, salads. I was put there to compare hot/cold sides and tell my supervisor which side I liked better. Well I have been at the cold food section since and work gets better and more doable each day. Everyday pretty much consists of the same thing, but each day goes by quicker and quicker. I usually am responsible for placing about 300-400 cakes slices in a dish and putting a lid on them...and that is only for 1 flight. Usually one 8 hour shift deals with 4-6 flights. In addition to cakes, I do fruit dishes, which involve me placing certain fruits in the dish and wrapping, or putting a lid on.  If i am not packing food, I am responsible for "Pushing"  Pushing refers to the person that gets the airline trays, places liners in them, forks/knives, salt pepper and basically organizes the final food tray that then is loaded into the food cart that you see go down the planes aisles. In additon to putting basic things on the tray, you are responsible for putting the already packages cake/fruit dishes on.

It is hard work, no doubt about it. I clock out every night with a super sore back and visions of cake and trays passing by my eyes. But every night I just think of the money, go to bed and get up for another days work. It pays 17 an hour and almost double on weekends. 8 hour shifts for 4-5 days a week aint too shabby. I work usualy 3pm to 10 or 11. I miss out on some good nights around the city, but makes the days off so much better and deserving. As I work till January, this job will thankfully come to an end, but all for a great cause....To live the good life for 2 months as I travel through almost all of the east coast of Australia and all of New Zealand.

Joe the Working Man

Ps.  Whenever I fly I will always remember this job.  The food isnt that bad either, especially the ones i pack

1 comment:

  1. "I was about to tell him to "sample this" and punch him right in the face."