Zaragoza, Spain, 2003. I work in an Irish pub called Flaherty’s instead of loyally attending university classes during my Erasmus year. It turns out to be the best Spanish language teaching I can possibly get due to the international team we are – 2 French, 1 Romanian, 1 English, 2 Irish, 2 Spanish, and 1 German. And being in Spain working in a pub – no matter if Spanish or Irish – the team is required to speak proper Spanish to keep the customers.
One day I attend two elder ladies ordering each a different kind of coffee. Coffee orders in Spain are unlike the Italian categorization into capucchino, espresso, etc. Here coffee orders amount easily to sentences with 15 or more words. For example:
“Un cafe largo descafeinado con leche de vaca desnatada semi calentada sin azucar pero con endulzante y con mucha espuma y chocolate en polvo arriba.”
In Italy that equals a caffe latte with low fat milk, I guess. Being still new to Spanish language and the bar business, I asked the ladies kindly to repeat their order. Still slightly in doubt, I asked once more. That was one time too much. They look at me grimly, speaking the firm words, “Go back to your country! We will order our coffee somewhere else!” (*)
I work mainly night shifts, starting around 9 p.m. and finishing around 4 a.m. Nights are usually fun, since the lot of customers make my work time pass fast. During night times, especially on weekends, we also have lots of games, quizzes, or other events going on, which make the interaction with customers a happy one. At the end of my work shifts around 3-4 a.m. I swop floors and tidy everything up. It’s a time when I actually wish to change to a day shift in order to exclude these tiring activities.
My time in Flaherty’s in general, though, is a true pleasure, and being an artist I use a collage to express my feelings about the place and it’s special work team. Actually, my love to Augustas and the distance of place and time until seeing each other again inspires me to do so even more. With photos shot previously in the pub, I cut and place the important pieces according to my feeling, and finally glue it down onto paper. The result pretty much mirrors my Flaherty experience.
(*) It was the only such experience within the 9 months working at Flahertys, due to the fact that it made me learn proper Spanish even faster ;D