Real life dinner dash
Noor-E-Shahrin Weekend

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Recently, we have come across the privilege of sneaking a peek through the lifestyle of a true public servant residing among us. His kind is as selfless and hospitable as they come. Yes, a waiter of an eatery in the capital. Here’s how he introduces himself to us.

Name? “I am Rashed Kalam.” Age? “24 years old.” Family? “My parents live in my homeland, Natore. I live alone here, for now.” Address? “Badda.” Rashed is clearly a man of very few words.

Rashed narrates the story of a day in his life starting from the top of the morning to the peek time of night.

He works in the first shift (the restaurant works in a two-shift mechanism) which starts at 10am. “I wake up as late as possible”, said Rashed. “My morning routine consists of minimum tasks; showering and other hygiene related tasks when there is water available.” He wears his uniform and is out to make the town right.

The restaurant is generous enough to provide its entire staff with food when they arrive. “But, I always have my morning tea at a nearby stall to get me started for the day”, added Rashed. “I read the headlines and captions on the newspaper which I borrow from the stall’s owner.”

Rashed mainly has two means of transport: his bicycle or a rickshaw. “It’s a huge advantage having my workplace so near; my colleagues often remind me how they envy me for this reason.” Surely, the hectic traffic of Dhaka gives us all road rage.

If it isn’t clear enough how much the recent terrorist attacks in the nation has affected the citizens of Dhaka, Rashed is here to tell us, “Every morning since the beginning of this month, we are being searched from the inside of our shoes to the tip of our hair for weapons and bombs.” Even the ID card isn’t enough now. But of course we all understand the severity of the situation and how important the security checks are. So no waiters are seen complaining.

“We are not allowed to use our cell-phones during work which is why we deposit our cell phones in the staff room.” Duty calls!

Soon as the clock strikes ten, the waiters are on their mark. Customers start streaming in at accelerating numbers. “Since the restaurant follows buffet system, we don’t have as much work as the waiters in other order-based places”, says Rashed. “Our first job is to make sure all the serve entrees, spoons and name plates of food are placed in order. Then, all we do the rest of the working period is remove plates from the tales of the customers who are done with the meal.” Of course other waiters have jobs like supervising the serving line.

Apparently, this process goes on and on until 3pm. But the job isn’t as simple as it sounds; rather arduous. “The worst kind of customers is those who take more food on their plate than they can digest. All that food goes to waste.” Rashed’s disappointment is totally justified as there is a huge clear display message reading “Please do not waste food”, both in English and Bangla.

A second batch of staff comes in at 2pm. As soon as the clock strikes three, Rashed goes for his three hour break. “I have my lunch here in the restaurants’ staff room and leave for home.” On asking how he spends his leisure he said, “A siesta is most often opted for as my legs hurt due to standing up for so long. Sometimes my colleagues stay over as my house is so nearby; those days we simply talk over some light card games.”

His shift starts again at 6pm. Again resumes the old “looking for empty plates” and getting customers drinks or extra napkins. This goes on until 9pm when he again goes to the staff room for dinner. He takes his cell phone from the guard and heads straight home.

After that brief account of an average working day, when asked if the salary he earns is enough for him and his family (he sends a portion of it to his parents), he said, “It’s much more than I hoped for before I came to Dhaka. I must say I am well-off and grateful for it.”

As he doesn’t have any different future plans yet, it looks like this sector of work has grown on Rashed and he too has blended into his job just fine. So far, Rashed feels like this job will be his source of income till retirement.

An after-thought: Dear Readers, please remind yourselves to thank your waiter politely and tip generously next time you have a meal in a restaurant. One word of appreciation can make a waiter’s day.

*A different name for the waiter has been used and the restaurant’s name kept anonymous by the request of the restaurant’s manager.

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