It was really scary walking into a room of complete strangers, most of whom I knew I probably wouldn’t understand. It was the contract signing evening at the local pub for my new job at the local castle, which is also an education centre. I can see it from my kitchen window but never imagined I’d work there!
Wonderfully there was a Mum from the stables who said ‘hello’ and that helped a lot. They weren’t hostile as some groups I’ve entered and several chatted to me, but it wasn’t easy, I’m not good in big groups and I was glad to leave after the meal. I expected the actual job to be a bit easier!
The first day it snowed, and it was so romantic entering the castle under its white covering. My first morning had me cleaning rooms with Emma. She’s sixty, doesn’t look it and speaks broad dialect. I had the glazed look given to me several times as I wittered on in my newness, but I could understand her instructions. It was really hard physical work, turning the wooden springs on bunk beds and washing down acres of wooded walls and floors ready for the new season. The castle is a labyrinth and I’m working really hard at learning the layout and the names of the rooms. It really looked like everything had just been dumped at the end of the season (it had) and now all is covered in layers of dust. There isn’t a single hoover in the place either. Buckets and mops. We get breakfast and lunch. I’ve found myself eagerly awaiting lunch as my stomach alarm clock goes off at eleven – today I told it to shut up and that worked! At the meals everyone chats and then it goes quiet but there’s a sense of slow thawing. Being Austria there is a big smoking group, quite where they’ll go when the kids are here I don’t know. The majority speak really broad dialect which often leaves me in lala land if I don’t get the context. On my second day I met Mary, who is my other work colleague and is slowly thawing out. The moaning began between her and Emma about this and that, but I remained happily ignorant most of the time, and for once when they said when the chef says do something, do it, but that he’s ok, a first for all my jobs here! Mary got it in the neck about her not having cleaned some loo, but I couldn’t get a lot of it. So just like England, someone’s always getting some flack! Mary picked me up for work this morning and her hubby drove, music blaring (fine) but I was almost hanging onto the seat he drove so fast! The car’s got stuff hanging from the mirror and full of kids stuff – I can relate to that!
I’ve found with this job, much German bluffing is needed, i.e. reading body language. I can see glazed expressions on faces as I say something, but I’m hoping some of this is that I’m not speaking dialect (don’t kid yourself girl!). The best bit this week was cleaning a corridor filled with drawings of the castles design, so I was looking at them slyly while cleaning! The girls often sit for the last ten minutes where I’d rather keep going, but I am just the new guy! I’ve also found out that while the food is included, it costs ten extra hours a month for the time it takes out of your working day, apparently a usual practise here. And I can get holiday, and I get the next three weekends off, whoohoo! I hope Dave does too. It makes working for Lois seem a nightmare. I get this pit of anxiety when I think of being back there. They seem a friendly lot, after Lois’s grumpiness! I do find myself looking forward to going home, not because its boring or I hate it, but because I know when I am going home, not like somewhere earlier mentioned! I have time to do stuff at home and work.
Oh and that nasty little voice keeps on trying – you’re getting bored, this is dull work, you’re too good for this, blah blah blah. It won’t work because I’m rejoicing in this big new thing God has given me, and clean I will do! It also tried to get me worrying with something I misheard, which was that they had employed too many people for the kitchen. It made me think I’d get the heave ho at the end of the two weeks working in, to cut numbers but Mary said it wasn’t so. So that won’t work either. Today I am mostly happy that I have worked a five day week, and I have the weekend off, I know what needs to be done next week and I’m happy to do it. In fact, if I ever had a doubt about doing this work, its dispelled, I’ve not had any feelings of oh what a mistake, I’m happy and content. Thinking about the spring fair in town, Church on Sunday, what a simple life! No more striving. It shows me how I’ve changed. I used to collect experiences as trophies, to look back upon as a list of interesting achievements. This new experience I am treasuring for the moment, no more.