I came one hour earlier, as always, to chat a little with the morning shift girl. She was very sweet Russian girl, with a cute little daughter and husband. She was only four years older than me, but I’ve always had a feeling of her being authoritative for me. A few people have been fired in the past weeks so we had a lot to gossip about. That day, as soon as she saw me, she came running with the big news. We were going to get a new girl. Not any other girl, but the one that once was the old restaurant manager. I knew this meant trouble. When old workers return to their working spaces they always feel so important and reflected, but I knew I could easily deal with that. At least that’s what I thought. She would already start next week and, of course, I was the person that would work with her on the first shift back. Therefore, I got myself ready for a fit about the higher position.
The restaurant’s policy was easy. If the bar chef was not around, one of the workers had to fight for his position. When you were at the bar, it meant that you didn’t have to run around so much and did not (that’s the most important thing for me) have to do dishes. Since I came in first, I’ve decided that I would definitely not let that bitch work at the bar. Therefore, I made myself comfortable and waited for the big entrance. When a small girl came in running, passing me without greetings and going straight to the stairs that followed to the kitchen, my thoughts were that it was just another one of those bitchy guests being too busy to be polite. That’s, why I came out of the bar, to stop her and tell her that the toilet was in other direction. She laughed at me and said „ as if I don’t know…believe me, I know myself around here“, that’s when I knew, this was her. She was small, blond short hair and a few tattoos. Her big blue eyes were looking right through me. Out of the blue, I felt some guy’s hands around my waist pushing me on the side. I was ready to get into an argument, but when I turned around I surprisingly saw Leo with a huge smile. „ Come on babe“- he was obliviously not talking to me – “we should have a cigarette before you start slaving yourself here again“- „ fuck yeah, “- she said, took his hand and they walked by me as if I didn‘t exist.
I went back to the bar and took a look at the time. She was already 10 minutes late standing there with Leo, another girl, and a guy smoking and joking. I hated all of them already. All I wanted to do was just finishing this evening and getting to that bar that Juju was waiting in, to talk to her about that bitchy blond cow. I’ve waited for five more minutes before I went out. „So when exactly your shift is starting? “ – I heard myself being rude but she has really challenged me to. „I guess around 15 min before, so what? “ „ Then I guess smoking is a hard job“- I turned my back on her and went back to the bar hearing them laughing about me but I didn‘t care, I just thought about how in hell would I explain to the restaurant manager that I would never work with her again. Her friends left and the real horror began. We fought and we bitched around. It was a silent hate going on and I could imagine that everyone around us was feeling that the same way. A few regulars came in and were so happy to see her, I just didn‘t get why. The only thing good about us working together was that she was not complaining doing the dishes.
At the end of the shift, her three “musketeers” appeared again at the entrance of the bar. The other girl was tall, with long hair, big lips and very Russian. I saw Leo kissing her a few times, so it fulfilled the picture of a poor girl dating a not so poor restaurant owner. The other guy was strange – very thin, with a small beard and a pretty creepy laugh. He has always tried to pull himself into the middle of attention but somehow I had the feeling that no one cared. Their names were Katherin and Dave. The new girl was Alice. She accepted me being at the bar that night. When the closing hour was right around the corner, she came up to me and asked for a huge glass of prosecco on ice.. I poured her and me one, but of course, she didn’t drink it with me. She went off to her friends to cheer with them.
The strange guy came in and introduced himself to me. „I am Dave, you know. I work at the other restaurant“- I smiled. „That’s nice. Which one exactly? „ Kvartira … “, he said “you should come buy, I will fix you up with a nice drink“, and he gave me a foxy smile. I could tell that in his strange way he was trying to flirt with me, I just didn‘t understand why. Even thou he was a bizarre cartoon character, he turned out to be the nicest one out of all of them.
The front facade of the restaurant was under constructions. Leo decided to be the hero in front of his Russian beauty and started climbing up the framework with a glass of whisky-coca in on hand and a cigarette in the other one. „ Gregor“, he screamed (by the way that was the name of the owner) „ Look what you‘ve done. I cannot come into the restaurant, but I can definitely come up to you“. Alice, Dave, and Katherin were laughing. I didn’t understand what he was talking about. Dave also tried climbing but failed at his attempt. Then everything happened pretty fast. Someone started screaming, everyone was a mess and Alice came up to me saying that if someone would ask, Leo never was there. I knew I hated her, but I definitely wasn‘t a squealer. Dave came up to me running and invited me for drinks with them after I would close up and I’ve even got this a thought, but after I closed up Alice was gone and I did not know where they all went, so I took a cab and went straight to where Juju was waiting for me.
The rest of the week I got through my shifts without seeing Alice again, but the thought of working with her again scared me to death. When I got in the week after, George sat down with me for a personal meeting. „ My dear, I don’t know if you’ve heard about it but we are shutting down the restaurant for restorations. This could take one month or maybe three or four. “, of course I heard about it, but somehow I couldn‘t believe it. „ Alright“, I said with my voice shaking with the thought of leaving the place; „ but you know I really like you“, he was so calm „I would love for you to continue working meanwhile at Kvartira, of course, until we finish everything around here“. I felt relieve running through my body. I took a deep breath – „of course George, I would be happy to! “, I was so glad about the news that I’ve totally blacked out on the other information. It was only after a few days when I was working again with Alice when I’ve realized that everyone else was fired. It was only 2 of us who left working.
The next 18 days were a complete hell for me. Alice and I’ve both worked all these days in a row without any breaks. It was the hottest summer in Berlin so far. The degree went up to 40C and the fumes of the cars and the city was leaving the people dry. Most of the time I was at the bar and Alice did the dishes. There was a small window in between these two spaces where I’ve one day started to pass her a glass of champagne on ice every 30 minutes and of course I didn’t miss the opportunity to pour myself one as well. Somehow it became our evening procedure. One day, it was extremely hot and the thick air was pressing against us like a wall. We started drinking earlier. At 10 p.m. we both were drunk clinking our glasses in silent hatred, „ you know, this guy just really makes me wanna hate him“ she said. „What the fuck are you talking about? “we’ve never talked about anything personal, or something else other than the weather or work. This was definitely a new area. „He told me, we don’t have any relationship, just fucking, but then when I told him I wanna visit the other guy, he made a scene … I mean, what the fuck“. I definitely didn’t know who she was talking about, but I got everything that she was telling me. „ Screw them, they always wanna fuck with our heads“, I said and both of our glasses met for a toast, for the first time.
Something has changed that evening. I could feel that. I could feel that she was hurt and that she told me that was somehow different. After our shift, she came up to me and told me that I had to go with her to the shitty club, where another friend of hers was waiting and that she didn‘t accept any excuse. I think our minds connected when we both reached out for the bottle of champagne to drink it on our way. We took a cab and talked about some guys stuff and the shitty life. We were completely drunk by that time. After arriving at the club we spend one hour longer in front of it drinking the bottle and chatting, but it wasn‘t until we entered the club where no one was dancing and the two of us started jumping around like we just ate an electro shocker. That night I knew that somewhere in between working and hating each other, I’ve found someone who was just as crazy as me.