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Work in Europe

Boulangerie des Gourmets, Dublin Ireland

Summer 2001—

I'd been working at Ciao Bella Roma, an Italian-owned pizza joint in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. It wasn't a bad job. I'd been more-or-less relegated to the basement, doing mostly prep work and little pizza-baking. But it was okay work — low-stress, and reasonably well-paying. I was making £6 IRL (7.62) an hour cash, about £225 (€285) for a part-time week. (It's a reflection on the food-service industry that I considered this "reasonably well-paying.")

I was living in Mountjoy Square, sharing a two-bedroom flat with three others.

I had been living in a hostel there in Temple Bar, and one Saturday on the way to work had spoken with Damien, at a stand in the Gourmet Food Market. He was slinging baguettes and the like. Some time later, he called me and wanted to talk about a job opening.

Damien, who was the manager at Boulangerie des Gourmets, offered me a job as baker for what seemed like a lot of money. It's embarrassing. He said "fourteen fifty." I swallowed my reaction and calmly agreed. He meant £14,500 per year. But that's enough about that. And anyhow the job was so awful that money wouldn't have made it okay.

The head baker decided early that I wasn't good enough. But there was no skill required — nothing to be good at. The job consisted of nothing more than pumping units....

What actually happened when I took the job was that Damien said he'd decided to wait until Leon, the head baker, got back from holiday. I'd quit my job at Ciao Bella Roma.

They'd hired somebody else at Ciao Bella.... I started to run out of money....

Paychecks were distributed monthly, there at the boulangerie (the weekly pay-packet is normal in Ireland.) When I asked for a "sub," or an advance on pay, Damien told me that it was against company policy. I managed to wheedle a small bit from Olivier, the owner; but I didn't get enough to take care of any of the trouble about rent, which was £70/week (€89) to share a room, with me several weeks behind.

I kept returning to Damien and Olivier, as I was accruing hours, and asking them to help me out. I was rather bold and shameless about it, and for good reason. I needed it. Damien was snide and condescending, really rather incredulous that I could get myself into such a position. Olivier, a bright-eyed smarty who has probably always been rich, had me in a position, alright.

I told him I was going to get evicted. This was true. S_, a flatmate, was pretty sweet on this Australian girl J_, who had no place to live. He kept asking, nice-like, whether I could pay the rent. Yeah, I could have stayed... living in a "Playstation house," sharing a room, unwanted [wanted-less-than-the-girl-was-wanted.] I was getting evicted, as far as I was concerned.

Olivier said he had a flat for me to live in. He owned a place where some other of his employees lived. So I rented from him, for a while. And I worked for him, at the Boulangerie, for a while. Soon enough, I could stand neither the job nor the house, and I left Dublin.

— I lived in Dublin from 17 June until early September. I went to Galway, briefly, en route to Kilkenny....