Planet Hollywood Waiter Job…….Putting off the Real World

After college, I decided that I would put off the real world and do the CIEE work abroad program. I’d highly recommend it to anyone as I had a great time. So I set off to France in search of employment, armed with broken French and a card which lets me work there on a student exchange.

Lots of my friends were travelling around Europe at the time, doing the post college Eurail thing that Americans do, and so I made plans to meet them. However, the train was full and so after an several hours of waiting, I found myself alone and confused.

It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me.

I decided to go to the eiffel tower and some guy asked to borrow my phone card. I let him and, perhaps seeing the bored look on my face, he invited me along to his picnic. It turns out that it was a picnic of a bunch of Finnish summer workers who turned out to be my best friends while I was there. Plus they all spoke French, to improve their abilities, so it beat the usual expat crowd. After a nice long session of drinking on the lawn at the eiffel tower, guitars out and drawing a crowd, we all crashed at the person with the smallest rooms place in a show of solidarity. Very fortunate since I had no place to stay.

So this was supposed to be about my work experience?? Well, now that I had my social life in order and I had gotten my french skills up, I went around looking for jobs. Nothing fancy, just something to earn some money and keep me busy…

I knocked on quite a few doors, adresses provided by the program and found that my maleness was a big hinderance. Seems that the French prefer attractive women in stores…come to think of it, I’m fond of attractive women too and cannot blame them.

My lucky break came when I heard that they were opening a new Planet Hollywood at Eurodisney, about a 40 minute train ride from Paris. I didn’t quite think of myself as cool enough to be a waiter there with all those celebrities (I now laugh at this), but nothing ventured, nothing gained…

So I went out there and I was amazed how my English opened doors. There were a lot of people there and a lot of people to interview with, but as soon as they realized that I was a native English speaker, I quickly moved up the food chain to the main manager who stated that, as an American, I knew how to work, and so he would definitely want me.

So life was good…We were all new waiters at a new restaurant which was really exciting. Training together. And there were many more picnics and singing sessions with the Finnish people.

Work was tiring but fun. Waiting tables can be a really hard job as sometimes there is simply not enough time to do it all. If someone wants to take a long time ordering, you can’t leave and it throws all your timing off. But eventually I got the hang of it, and I enjoyed running around the restaurant to the music….Occasionally, they would play ‘Turn Around Bright Eyes’ and I’d stop working and just enjoy.

But the French staff took it a bit seriously, in my opinion. I guess it was a career for a lot of them….but we English speakers worked just as hard, but had more of a sense of humor about things. In my opinion, at least.

There was one bad night when we were assaulted a bit in the subway, as Bastille day brings out the ruffians in Paris, but otherwise it was nonstop fun!

My apartment was great with a really hip couple which had cool stuff all around. They threw a party once which I got to invite all my friends to (they didn’t mind the big blonde Finnish women crashing)and in the middle of the party, my friends who had stood me up the first day called. I had chanced upon some travellers from my college one day in Paris and given them my number. They ran into my friends in Italy and gave them my number…weird stuff!

But alas…all things must end. First, the Finnish people had to leave. Then, work lost its novelty and I began to think I was wasting my $100,000 education.

So I returned to the US, but it was a great experience which I’ll always treasure and I did learn to speak passable French (lest the French customers curse me).