By the time their plane touched down again in the UK, both Kate and Polly were feeling serene and relaxed in each other’s company. Kate truly felt like the trip had blown the cobwebs out for her and she felt rejuvenated. A twinging feeling of guilt was making her keep asking if Polly was ok because she was so aware that the trip was meant to be for Polly’s sake, but Polly assured her she was the happiest she’d been in a long time.
Polly drove Kate home and they sat for a moment in silence in the car outside Kate’s house.
“So,” Polly began, “What are you going to do this afternoon?”
Kate drummed her hands expectantly on her thighs, “I’m going to look online for restaurant jobs in the area.”
“Good.” Polly nodded.
“And you?” Kate asked.
“I’m going to tell Ryan that I love him and the kids and that to me this our whole family but if he still feels the same way in 6 months time I am happy to think it over again. Then I’ll tell him I love him again. Oh and I must order new school trousers for the big two. Oh and…”
“It’s ok,” Kate interrupted, “I don’t need your entire itinerary - just the Ryan bit was enough. Good luck!”
She climbed out of the car and went into the house. Ewan was sitting at the kitchen table with a red headed woman next to him.
“You’re back!” He called out through a mouthful of sandwich.
“Hiya!” Kate called.
“Kate this is Fran!” Ewan said amiably and then looked at his watch before jerking backwards out of his chair, “Oh Franny we’re late.”
“Where are you off to?” Kate asked, smiling at Fran who was flickering a wave at her shyly.
“We’re going to meet Zoe,” Fran said shyly, “We have a date.” Kate felt like she would never get her head round the idea of polyamoury but they didn’t half make it look companionable and fun. Maybe she’d put that next on her list of things to do after get a job she liked and find one man she wanted to date.
“Have fun!” She called to them as they grabbed coats and keys and headed out the door. She brewed a cup of tea and opened her laptop to look at job websites. There were several agencies looking for staff but she felt like changing kitchens constantly would be too much - she needed to start small and find somewhere where she could slot in with people who knew what they were doing and work up.
There was an Indian restaurant that she’d been to before down the road, they were looking for waitressing staff. That seemed like a good start - she scrawled down the information. She’d be able to get there after work at the university. She kept scrolling through the lists to see if there was anything that was a starter job or didn’t require several different training courses that she didn’t have. A French restaurant in the centre of town was looking for an assistant chef but the language they used to describe the jobs made Kate feel immediately out of her depth. She kept scrolling. Eventually, an opportunity jumped out at her: it was written in such simple terms that she felt no nerves in picking up her phone to dial immediately.
“Hello, The Golden Hare?” Said a woman’s voice on the other end of the line.
“Hi, my name is Kate Wilcox… I’m, calling about the ad you placed online for the kitchen help?”
There was a pause before the woman said anything else, “Yep, ok - I should warn you, it really is just kitchen help we need: some washing up, some prepping, mostly cleaning and assistance… it’s not a chef job, is that the sort of thing you’re looking for?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. There’s no front of house is there?”
The woman laughed kindly, “Not a customer relations person? Nah, don’t blame you. Alright, well, can you do…” There was the sound of paper rustling on the other end of the line and Kate paused with pen and notepad at the ready to make a note of when her interview would be, “Can you do tomorrow?”
“Yes, absolutely,” said Kate without hesitation, “I should warn you - I don’t have experience or anything, so I don’t want to waste your time…”
The woman cut her off, “Don’t be silly - we’ll soon find out if you’re wasting our time when you get here. 6pm sharp ok?”
“Yes,” said Kate, relieved she wouldn’t have to skip out of her job any earlier than allowed. One of her post holiday resolutions was to make sure she stopped flaking on her job. She needed to get used to working hard if she was going to have a career instead of just a job.
“Great - see you then.”
The next day Kate was a ball of nerves all day. She rehearsed over and over again all the answers to questions she thought she might get. She listed her favourite recipes to herself and any and all examples she could think of of times she had been under pressure and succeeded. She muttered to herself all the reasons she thought sounded good for why she was looking for this change in career. Finally, the clock dragged its reluctant hands round to the time to leave and she jumped in her car and headed out to The Golden Hare.
It was a large, country pub on a single narrow lane a bit out in the sticks. It had an enormous car park and was bigger than Kate remembered and she gulped at the thought of how many covers that meant the restaurant had. Never mind, Kate thought to herself, I’ll just do the interview and if it comes off then I can chop onions and wash dishes and all will be fine.
The familiar, comforting pub smell of fryers and a wood fire hit her as soon as she answered the door. A woman behind the bar looked up at her and smiled, “Kate?”
“Yes, hi… I’m Kate.”
“I’m Anya, nice to meet you. Let me show you where you can get changed.”
“Er, changed?” Kate stuttered.
“Oh, were you going to wear that?”
Kate looked down at what she was wearing - it was the same formal black trousers and simple blouse she had worn to work at the university that day. What was wrong with it?
“Er, I was… did you? Did you want something more formal?”
“More formal? God no, I thought you’d be in something you didn’t mind getting grease on. You are here for the trial shift?”
“Trial shift?!” Kate panicked, “Oh my god I thought it was an interview!”
Choose an ingredient that Kate ends up working with: