Staring in horror at the plunging figures every time I update my bankbook, it dawned upon me that I could no longer survive without an arubaito. And my scholarship term ends in two months’ time. My pockets are screaming and widening by two centimetres every time I dig into them in front of the cashier. I chanced upon a Singapore restaurant looking for new part-time workers, thanks to a friend, and without much hesitation, I grabbed the phone and punched in the numbers.

Before I knew it, I was running down the streets of Azabu-jyuban, like a lost sheep, and arrived at the restaurant, five minutes late, for the interview for the part-time job. A few days later, I received a phone call from the boss, and he announced to me, much to my delight, that my name had been included in the five slots available, out of the fifty applicants who tried. Being a Singaporean who speaks Japanese, I guess, played a huge part in elbowing my  way through the other 49 candidates, despite being one of the last few applicants.

The five triumphant successful candidates gathered one cold winter night at the restaurant, and the boss brought us all out for coffee, while he explained to us in great detail the various aspects of the jobs, the expectations, the menu and most important of all, to let us have a feel of the unique working atmosphere at the restaurant. He then treated us to some Chinese dumplings for dinner, where we had a long chat and broke the ice.

Four days ago, I turned up for my first day of work. Having hardly memorized the menu, which I was told to, I felt rather guilty, but was ready to make it up in any other possible way. The morning preparations, the standard procedures of serving customers(which weren’t strictly formulated), the afternoon cleaning up, the evening preparations, and the night cleaning up- all this pretty much sums up my work for the day. Sounds like a piece of cake, but it was rather hard work, for someone like me who hasn’t worked in a physically demanding job for many years. I left my house at 9am, started work at 10am. With some hours of rest in between (which I spent chatting with the boss and the other staff), I started work again for dinner, all the way till 12 midnight, when I could finally get some form of respite. I took the last train home, and after gobbling up some ramen, I slotted the key in, opened the door, and took off my shoes (which hurt my feet for the past ten or so hours), at 1am.

Pretty tough job, but I guess it just takes time to get used to it. I was never confident in serving customers, but on my second day yesterday, I was miraculously praised by a couple- an English-speaking foreigner (probably American) and a Japanese lady. Talking about the internationality of this restaurant, the boss is Japanese, and among the staff and kitchen staff, spreads out a myriad of bloods. Under the roof of the restaurant, including the kitchen, we have people from Japan, Singapore, Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and perhaps more whom I have not met. The cook from Bangladesh used to study in Russia and speaks Russian. I wanted to hear and speak some Russian, but I could imagine my confused, still face, with Russian words shooting at me, yet not understanding a single word of it.

Despite having only been to my new arubaito for a mere two days, I could see myself toughening up and gearing up for the working society I have to face in a year’s time.

Before that, let me memorize the food and drinks menu.