- Location: 200 La Trobe St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
- Cuisine: Thai/Chinese
- Phone: 9639 7677
I am a former employee of Spicy Noodle Café (SNC). I worked at SNC from early March to yesterday, which was my last day of work. I would like to share this experience with you.
When I first arrived in Melbourne I wanted to find a part-time job really quickly. I put my resume together and distributed probably about 50 copies to every café or restaurant that advertised for staff, and the occasional café that didn’t. All these were situated around the Melbourne CBD/Carlton area where I live. Nobody called me so I tried again. I canvassed the Chinatown area this time, and distributed lots of resumés, and thank God one supervisor hired me on the spot. However, I only worked there for about a month. The supervisor was really friendly and taught me a lot of things about the job, but I left because of the shift timing. I worked once a week on Saturday from 4.45pm to 11.30pm. The problem was that I had to go to church on Sunday mornings, and I wanted to be able to rest early on Saturday nights. I informed the supervisor about this and he was very understanding and allowed me to leave after a week’s notice.
Then SNC called me. Because of the number of resumés I distributed I couldn’t really remember every single place that I went to, so when SNC called me even after a short conversation with the lady on the phone I still had no idea where SNC was. That very night I took a tram down to the address given to me to check the place out so I would know where to report for work.
My first day of work – Wednesday 7pm (I can’t remember the date). I arrived early and was introduced to an Australian-born Chinese guy who was to teach me all I needed to know about the job. The first thought that came into my mind was: what in the world is a local doing in a Chinese café? You see, it is a well known fact that Chinese places underpay their workers and no one would want to be underpaid, right? Later I found out that this guy was the boss’ son. That explains it.
Anyway, this guy, let’s call him Peter, gave me instructions which I duly followed, and tasks which I completed to the best of my ability. I mean, I used a metal scourer to scrub all the black stuff off the bottom of a pot which couldn’t even fit in the sink. The boss was impressed and I was really happy. I believe in doing my best even though the circumstances may not be optimal (remember I was underpaid). During the trial period I was only paid $7 an hour. Peter’s dad spoke to me after my shift and said he was satisfied with my work and invited me to work for him. I accepted the offer. Thank God for providing me with a source of income.
Peter was a great guy. He never bossed me around just because the boss was his dad. We worked together really well and I could turn to him if I was unsure of anything in SNC. Then I started working on Thursday evenings as well, at 7pm. My classes at uni generally end at about 5.15pm so I wanted to have some time to go home, put my stuff down, have a quick meal, then go to work. That was until Peter’s dad, let’s call him John, told me that if I worked a 4 hour shift I would be provided with a free meal. At that moment I was working from 7-10pm, so if I worked from 6-10pm I would get a free meal! From that point onwards I rushed down after uni to reach there before 6 so that I could get the free meal. I was only paid $8 an hour at that time, and one meal in Melbourne costs slightly above that, so I really wanted to save the little amount of money that I got in whatever way I could. Then I started working Friday lunch shifts as well. I was actually supposed to replace someone who couldn’t make it for that week, but all of a sudden Peter’s mother (John’s wife, Mary) told me that because she had already rostered me to work Friday lunch shifts I couldn’t back out of it. I needed the job to support myself and my expenses, especially that of my car so I agreed. After a month, my pay was increased to $9 an hour and I could do with an additional $36 a week (I never got a pay increment after that).
All this took place from the beginning to the middle of last semester. When it came to the end of the semester and I had lots of work piling up, I wanted to take a day off each week so I could spend more time on my studies. I asked to take Friday off so I could have the whole of Friday to study then go to church at night for prayer meeting. Mary refused even after I asked her thrice. So I told John that I wanted to quit. I know what some of you are thinking – I wanted to quit just because I was refused a day off? How immature. But I would ask of you to please consider my circumstances. I work 12 hours a week, and study full time. I came to Melbourne primarily to get my master’s degree, not do underpaid work. My studies take priority over my part-time work. I hope that justifies my decision to quit. But John said he liked me because I was an honest, hard worker and he didn’t want me to leave so he gave me Friday off. I continued working on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
I continued working on only Wednesday and Thursday nights until all my assessments were submitted, then I started working on Fridays again. Thank God my working relationship with Mary wasn’t too awkward during that time.
This semester my timetable changed and so my shifts had to change too. I informed John and Mary that I’d like to work only two shifts this semester so I could have more time to focus on my studies. So I was allocated Monday and Thursday lunch shifts.
Well, assignments are piling up again, and for 5 weeks starting from 18 November I will be attending an intensive course at RMIT which will teach me how to teach English. During that time I will have no time to work so Spicy Noodle will have to find someone to take my place during that period. And during this period I would benefit from more time with my studies.
So I decided to quit, for real this time. I informed them of my decision last Monday, so last Thursday was my last day of work.
Because of my passion for food I really enjoy working in restaurants and kitchens. One thing that I regret is that I was not given the opportunity to work as the kitchen hand and help in the preparation of the food. At least I could work as the waiter and the dishwasher and be close to the action.
Ultimately, I learned many things from Spicy Noodle, and this experience gave me insight into the F&B industry.