Restaurant Challenges

My youthful dreams of owning a restaurant were full of naivety. I was so enthusiastic about all the fun parts of running a business that I hadn’t considered how much work it would really take. Owning a restaurant is no walk in the park. Not only do you need to satisfy the demands of the clients but you also have to take care of unexpected hiccups. Most recently this involved calling a Melbourne drain cleaning company to come fix a blocked drain pipe.

It was actually a bit of a disaster to be honest. The first person to come into the restaurant was the kitchen hand who arrives in the early afternoon to start preparing. He’s the one who noticed the funky smell in the place. He called me immediately while roaming around the restaurant, looking under the kitchen sink and in the bathroom for the cause of the problem. By the time I arrived he’d found it and showed me the damage in the bathroom where the ground was sinking in slightly and there was moisture seeping through the tiles. We looked up one of the more reputable companies who do drain inspections because we had to get the thing repaired before the restaurant opened for business at six. When it comes to drain unblocking, Brighton has some good companies that can arrive within a couple of hours of the call, so we were lucky to have them on the scene asap.

The drain repair guys used a camera to locate the exact position of the problem, which was actually a blocked drain and a broken pipe. I was starting to get nervous that we’d have to close down the business for a couple of days and lose a lot of money, but I was so impressed by how fast they got the job done. When the pipes were fixed I was so relieved I thought we’d have a private staff party after work. Owning a restaurant is hard work but at least it’s rewarding too.

Parents Clearing Drains

I must admit, living with my parents has been tough. I’m a 22 year old university graduate, and a fully fledged corporate professional. I wear pant suits for crying out loud! However when I come home on Saturday night (read Sunday morning) having consumed a bottles worth of sauvignon blanc and eaten the equivalent of a slice of lemon I still find myself having to regurgitate into my mother’s rose bush in the front garden. The location of the family bathroom means my mum and dad would definitely wake up to any mystery sounds in the small hours of the morning. 

I was shocked when Mum told me she needed to pay someone to deal with the blocked drain, Camberwell is lacking in gossip so this is what mum and I talk about at brunch, I was shocked! I don’t understand what caused this problem. Nothing goes down that sink, I don’t hurl myself over thorny terrain to have to stay in for the drainage contractor to come and clear the U-bend, no sir!

She was a little taken aback at my interest in the blocked drain so I had to scale it back a bit. I was pretty excited for the day I’d have a drain of my own, a sink to do whatever in, something that was all mine and I could be as loud as I needed to. Living with the parents is good for my savings but it does come with its trials and tribulations. Of course I had to be the one at home to let in the drain plumber. It didn’t take him long and he said it was his easiest drain repair. Melbourne apparently is a bit of a mess when it comes to old pipes. It doesn’t compare to some of the stuff he has seen blocking drains out in the country. I didn’t engage all his drain chat. I had a driveway to hose down, turns out my aim isn’t always spot on and the rose bush is further back than is visible in the night sky!

Party Cooling

I used to love going to my friends birthday parties when they were at the local kids restaurant. The ice cream cakes were the best and the party host was always dressed up in some great costume. I thought they were the best birthday parties ever. Unfortunately, Mum could never afford to let me have a birthday party at that restaurant, but I got over that a long time ago. It was one of my son’s school friends birthday party today and he was having it in the Party Room. I walked my son in, just to reminisce and things had really changed. I couldn’t work out if it was because I was a child and thought everything was amazing, but the Party Room sure had changed since my day. There wasn’t even any air conditioning and the place was a mess.

The party host entered, wearing a normal clown uniform, and asked all the mothers to take the children to the playground as some people from the air conditioning repair company in Melbourne were coming through to do some maintenance. We took the kids outside and two men put a ladder up in the middle of the Party Room, opened a manhole in the ceiling and climbed in.

When the kids came back inside the ladder was still in the middle of the room, meaning the guys were still taking care of the air conditioning service. Melbourne was rather sunny that day so the kids spent a decent amount of time outside running around to work up an appetite. We moved the food so the kids didn’t have to navigate around a ladder constantly, but the big surprise came when the host brought the ice cream cake out.

The cake was placed in front of the birthday boy, candles burning bright. We moved the ladder so we could take some photos of the kids and just as the birthday boy went to blow out his candles.  Unfortunately the man taking care of the air conditioning service was still on the ladder and fell on the table. He had misplaced his footing, thinking the ladder was still there and fallen from the ceiling landing directly on the birthday cake. The boy started crying and the host rushed in. This was one of the most eventful parties I’d been to in a while.

Old-School Style

Maybe I watched one too many TV dramas set in the mid-twentieth century while I was at uni, but I always imagined that paid work would take place in an inner-city office filled with filing cabinets, teetering stacks of paper in overflowing in-trays, and minibars on little trolleys. Despite the fact that the characters in these shows never seem to be having the greatest of times, I can’t help but long to participate in their particular brand of mundane glamour.

 

I should have known that actual workplaces, here in the contemporary (and non-fictional) world would be completely different. To the credit of real-life offices, things are considerably more efficiently organised than they were in my imagination. Paperwork is not really a thing in this day and age, so hard-copy files and physical in-trays are virtually non-existent in most workplaces. Minibar situations, too, appear to out as far as Melbourne office fitout trends go.

 

I just think that a tiny injection of that old-school vibe could go a long way in terms of making some of these places more fun to work in. Now, I get that work isn’t necessarily supposed to be fun, but is there any reason why it shouldn’t be? As far as I can tell, when it comes to recruiting office designers, Melbourne businesses tend to opt for companies that can reflect their unique brand. As it happens, ‘fun’ is not typically part of that.

 

From what I understand, there are many companies around now that do see themselves as ‘fun’, and their offices as thrilling environments to work in. Call me old-fashioned (please, do it), but my idea of fun is not lime green sculptural seating and on-tap vitamin water. My idea of fun is role playing a character from a glamorous age gone by. Sure, this might not be about to happen for me any time soon, or even halfway appropriate given that I work for a robotics company.

 

Perhaps I need to shift my mindset to one of being a character in a fictional future.

Bridesmaid Shade

Who said planning a wedding was stressful? I’m fine… just fine. Seriously – can’t you see how fine I am? Just because there’s steam emanating from my ears and an ominous red glow behind my eyes doesn’t mean I’m turning into a bridezilla. I’m not even the bride, so that can’t be it. Besides, it’s totally normal for the maid of honour to be under a bit of pressure at times like this. 

I mean, the bride gets to sit back and lap up all this attention while I’m spending my every spare minute tracking down some improbable flower arrangement, floating cupcake stand or edible calligraphy ink. That’s not to mention things like making sure the celebrant has a suitable shade of nail polish to wear, or organising marquee hire. Melbourne isn’t a bad city to be doing all this in – it’s pretty well stocked – but even so, it’s not like it’s easy to sort these things. You really have to do some legwork to find what you’re looking for. 

It’s true – I imagined being a bridesmaid as a bit less stressful than this. Still, I think I’m holding it down quite well, and it’s partly because it’s not my own wedding. Marquee hire and setup, Melbourne airport pickups for siblings from the UK, grazing table design and wardrobe coordination for a best friend’s wedding are one thing, but for myself? I’d be an actual monster right about now. Like, I’m definitely not at full throttle. Not even close. 

The thing is, there are three weeks to go, and I can’t stop thinking about everything I still have on my to-do list. It wouldn’t kill the bride to shoulder just a bit of the load, would it? Either that, or she could pay me. Why, by the way, is it assumed that best friends can be put to work for no pay in the case of a wedding? I’d at least like to claim costs from all the taxis I’ve caught while being batted between cake designers, caterers and florists.

Times Like These

Okay… it’s definitely winter now. A mere week ago, I was all like, this isn’t so bad. Sure, it’s chilly and all, but this level of freakish cold that people go on about? They just need to knuckle down and get themselves a half-decent coat. Well, I’m about to eat my hat on all that. It’s as cold as a witch’s earlobe, and I’m feeling it. 

I’m feeling it all the more because my car’s heating system has dodged out on me, just as winter has finally decided to kick in with a vengeance. It’s my own fault for forgetting to book a car air conditioning service. Near Moorabbin, where I normally go to work, there are plenty of places that could probably do it on my lunch break. But I’m doing that project way out in the sticks for the next month, so it’s going to be really hard to get it dealt with now.

To make matters worse, I have to leave at 6 o’clock in the morning, which is basically the middle of the night at this time of year, and it’s frosty as all get out. So, not only am I on the verge of frostbite, but I also can’t see out of the windscreen. The demister is powered by the heater, you see. Today I resorted to wiping the glass down manually with my scarf, which then became too wet to wear. And the windscreen got all smudged. Good times. 

I’m just going to have to look around out here for a local mechanic workshop. Bentleigh might be easy enough to get to on the weekend… but are garages even open on the weekend? Probably not. What’s a guy to do, then? Maybe there’s some kind of portable heater I can rig up in the car, and position under the windscreen to act as a demister.

That’s a thing, right? Otherwise, what are those of us who forget to schedule our car maintenance supposed to do at times like these?

Seasonal Stress

Every year on December 26, I tell myself that I’m going to give myself a break next year – you know, give the whole Christmas thing a miss and disappear to a remote island for a month instead. “There’s heaps of time to arrange that,” I think to myself. “I’ll sort it out in a few months.” Of course, it never happens, and next thing I know December has rolled around and I’m at my wits’ end once more.

Well, this year I’m discarding my supposed festive obligations to family and friends and booking myself in for a last-minute holiday. I could call it a present to myself, but it’s actually just basic stress management. Melbourne might not be the most jitters-inducing city in the world, but it’s no tranquil haven, either – especially at this time of year. I’m over the sleep deprivation, heart palpitations and general state of anxiety instilled by the endless hubbub of traffic, advertising and assorted social demands.

I mean, sure – there are probably some stress management techniques I could apply in my day-to-day life that might keep me from reaching the breaking point of needing to chuck in my plans to go sit on a beach alone. Like, maybe if I occasionally had some time to myself throughout the year, I would feel so overwhelmed by December’s high social load.

The stress in my life could be seen as a good thing, I suppose, since it brings viscerally to my attention the fact that my lifestyle could do with a bit of a touching up. It is certainly motivating me to prioritise what’s actually important to me, namely my health and wellbeing. I don’t really have any choice – if I keep this up, I’m going to end up with high blood pressure or something.

 

So, having thought that through… what’s the plan? Do I take myself off for a well-deserved break – stress leave from family, friends and acquaintances, so to speak – or do I simply do my best to carve out a bit of time for myself this festive season?

New No More

Disclosure: I don’t understand how people can be into that acrid ‘new car’ smell. If car air freshener manufacturers are to be believed, there are those who like it so much they’ll actually go out of their way to buy products to create it – apparently, they’re big sellers. As for me, it makes me want to retch. That’s why I’m thrilled to say that my car has finally stopped smelling that way.

Unfortunately for my wallet, this coincides with it being time to take my no-longer-so-new car for the first of many annual services. This is the first new car I’ve ever had, so I’m on a mission to hook myself up with the best mechanic Northcote has to offer. It can’t be that hard, can it? A lot of garages these days do servicing and repairs by the manufacturer’s logbook, I’m told, and are just as good as going through a dealership.

Still, there’s always that slight bit of trepidation around mechanics that we all carry around. You know – that fear stemming from that one time we had to get an unexpected transmission service four hours inland from Byron Bay, shattering both our bank account and our self-confidence in our ability to adult.

Trust me, this concern can be overcome – it’s just a matter of reminding yourself that you’ve lived and learned, and you’re no longer driving a van that you bought from your mate’s older brother for $400. You’re not driving across the desert on a whim, entirely unprepared. You might not be driving a new car, or even a reliable one, but at least you’re have an awareness of limits when it comes to your ride’s capabilities. You understand the value of a current roadworthy certificate.

To be truthful, I never even wanted a new car – partly because I hate that smell, and partly because the stakes are higher when it comes to maintaining the thing. I like stuff that’s a little bit beaten up – just enough to not have to cringe for days when you put a scratch in it. Anyway, my car’s officially no longer new… yay!

Tender Loving Car

Cars: so convenient, yet such a pain in the rear end. Honestly, sometimes it’s like having a temperamental child – granted, one that you can leave out in the driveway and only wash when you feel like it. That’s been my experience, anyway, up until now. I’m super grateful to have a car that’s dependable, resilient, and up to the task of everything my lifestyle throws at it.

The poor thing has had a couple of injuries in the past week, though. First, I discovered a big scrape in the paintwork after parking in a narrow street, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t my doing. Then, I somehow managed to clip the left side mirror on a pole, causing the glass to smash. I guess it’s time for a trip to see a mechanic. Ringwood people, tell me who’s good for getting this sorted in a hurry.

That’s the thing about cars. You become reliant on them, and then your whole schedule gets thrown out of whack when you don’t have access to one. Things stop running like clockwork when you’re exposed to the realities of public transport, which I suppose is kind of healthy. It’s not my style to be utterly dependent on a machine to run my life, and it’s good to remember that there are other ways of managing things.

I might as well think about if there’s anything else that needs doing on the car if I’m going to take it in to Ringwood. Automotive services aren’t something I’m great at keeping track of, and it’s possible that I’m due for one right about now. If so, that’d actually be pretty handy – gotta love a bit of efficiency. 

My elderly neighbour did ask me if I could talk to someone about RACV inspections and roadworthy certificates, although I’m not totally sure what he has in mind. I assume he’s looking to sell his ute. But I think looking out for one car child is about all I can deal with right now.

Family Values

There’s no finding the sweet spot when it comes to creating a comfortable environment for the whole family. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but it can’t be denied if you’ve ever attempted to manage the climate control preferences of at least three people at a time. You’d think genetic relationships would make it easier – like, that at least one of the kids would have similar preferences to at least one of the parents. I can confirm that that’s not necessarily the case.

The best solution I’ve arrived at is to continually toggle the thermostat up and down until the next round of complaints. I have to say, adults do some of the worst of the worrying, partly because they’re concerned about the kids getting the chills, overheating or simply being exposed to too many fluctuations in temperature. Then they start getting in a flap about how they haven’t booked their ducted gas heating repairs. Melbourne might be getting cold, but there’s still time before winter – settle down, will you?

Honestly, it’s a luxury to have any form of heating system, let alone ducted heating and cooling. Melbourne is an extremely fortunate place to call home – much safer for your kids than a good many other places in the world. So how about relaxing a little about those tiny imperfections in your home environment?

Besides, here’s the thing: the kids are going to have to get used to fluctuating temperatures, no thanks to our love of climate controlled comfort. You might as well let them get accustomed to it early by letting it be a couple of degrees off that elusive perfect air temp. I’m sorry if that seems a bit dark, and I’m not trying to make you feel bad. It’s not your personal fault, and I know that I’m sure as heck not going to hold back from heating my home over winter. It’s just some food for thought next time you start obsessing about whether your kids are in their optimal growth setting.