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Hi, I’m Kay!
I’m an English teacher and today we’re talking about student jobs
The other day I was chatting to one of my students about her plans for the long vacation. She told me that she was planning to take it easy all summer and do nothing at all, as she was shattered after all her months of study!
I was amused, because when I was a student I didn’t have the option of doing nothing all summer no matter how drained I might be feeling. In fact, it was a welcome opportunity to earn some money to supplement my student grant in the next academic year or finance some foreign travel.
No, what I’m referring to is the type of experience which people sometimes refer to as the University of Life or the School of Hard Knocks! In other words, becoming a humble cog in some part of the vast working world, and experiencing at first hand how to deal with all types of people, dilemmas and situations.
Over the years, I did a variety of student jobs. A job as a nanny in an aristocratic household with four unruly children was a total nightmare, but it did give me the chance to practise my Spanish with the cook, the gardener and the maids, learning a lot of interesting colloquial expressions mostly featuring irritation and exasperation!
I also worked in a supermarket, starting off as a shelf-stacker, then progressing to delicatessen assistant, before ending up with the coveted position of check-out girl. This was the dream job, we all agreed, because it allowed you to take the weight off your feet and spend the whole day sitting down, rather than ending up with backache from standing behind a counter all day or lifting heavy boxes.
I also spent various spells teaching in language academies and tutoring students who had failed exams and had to spend the summer revising in order to pass the re-sits in September. Needless to say, they weren’t always the most motivated of teenagers!
But the job which I remember with most affection was my stint as a chambermaid/waitress in a small boarding-house at the seaside. It had, say, a dozen rooms and operated on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
My job involved arriving very early in the morning in time to set up the tables for breakfast, and then taking the orders from the guests and serving the food. After breakfast I had to do the washing-up in the kitchen (no dishwasher in those days!) and then help the housekeeper to clean the rooms and change the beds. My boss – let’s call him Mr Johnson – had been a tea planter in a British colony. He’d taken early retirement and used his golden handshake to invest in a new career as a hotelier. He treated all the staff with great courtesy, but I was rather taken aback at first by one of his habits. We offered the Full Scottish Breakfast as part of the deal – the usual bacon, egg and all the trimmings. For some reason it used to enrage Mr Johnson if a guest requested two fried eggs rather than one, which really couldn’t have made that much economic difference to the business. Whenever I read out a breakfast order, adding ‘with two eggs, please’, Mr Johnson would exclaim ‘greedy pig!’ at the top of his voice before turning back in a fury to the frying-pan. He was the chef as well as the owner.
On one occasion, when an American guest did not appear for breakfast and we couldn’t get in to clean his room, Mr Johnson opened the door with his passkey and then sent me in first to check on the situation while he stood nervously outside in the corridor. Afterwards I realized that he had probably been expecting to find a corpse and didn’t want to be the person to make the grim discovery. So he sent the student in! It later turned out that the guest had simply gone out at the crack of dawn for an early round of golf.
I can say in all honesty that I don’t regret having to do any of those sometimes rather humble tasks – I learned such a lot about human nature!
What about you? Do you think it’s good for students to do casual work during their long vacations? Or do they really need to rest?
Now try and find how we say the following in the text. The questions are in the same order as they are in the text.
- hecho polvo
- una muy buena oportunidad
- con la sabiduría que da la experiencia
- una temporada (dos expresiones)
- de primera mano
- sentarse a descansar un poco
- dinero que una compañía ofrece a un empleado como gratificación al jubilarlo
- un cadáver
- al alba
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