The Era of the Blue Tongue
Trip Start Nov 05, 2011
8Trip End Jun 30, 2012
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Where I stayed
Blue Tongue Backpackers Brisbane
Read my review - 1/5 stars
Read my review - 1/5 stars
I had looked online at the selection of hostels in Brisbane while I was in Byron Bay and had booked a room at the Blue Tongue Backpackers. It was described as a big house with a lot of long term residents, so I figured this would be a great place to get some advice about finding work in Brisbane. Sure enough, when I arrived I met Ronnie, a 25 year old and very tall German guy who had been doing casual hospitality work with an agency called Pinnacle. He helped me find their website and showed me how to get an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate - mandatory for hospitality workers in Queensland since Australia has such a widespread drinking problem apparently)
The event at the Entertainment Center was a comedy show by an Aussie comedian so the crowd was pretty much all Aussie. I just cleared glasses and bottles from the cocktail bar and tried to observe everybody. This was my first exposure to such a large crowd of Aussies and I definitely began to notice some consistencies among them. They scoff at people who drink water while drinking alcohol, they prefer to drink beer from a bottle rather than a glass, sometimes they nod their head while saying no, they tend to refer to themselves as "we" instead of I, they say "ta" for thank you, they call Sprite "lemonade" (and they just don't have our version of lemonade), they call appetizers "entrees" and entrees "mains," when you ask them how their food was they say "gorgeous" or "beautiful" instead of delicious or amazing like we do, and if you say sorry or thank you, they respond with "you're all right" when they mean no problem or you're welcome. I also noticed that white Australians have mostly either blonde, strawberry blonde or ginger colored hair, white Australian men are characteristically tall and barrel chested, and Asian Australian men are still small but muscular, unlike Thailand where the men are all out of shape. Australia has a large Asian community, but whereas the Asian population in California is largely Chinese, Japanese and Korean, in Australia they are mostly Polynesian, such as Maouri, Samoan, Tongan and Fijian, as well as South and Southeast Asian
That night, as I walked home from the Fortitude Valley train station, I noticed for the first time all of the homeless Aboriginal people hanging around the street mall (kinda like 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica). They generally sat in groups sipping on bottles of beer and were clearly very, very drunk. This was my introduction to the plight of Aboriginal people, who were displaced and forced into Western civilization by the English settlers that came to Australia in the late 1700s. Unfortunately, over 200 years later, there is a huge disparity and noticeable segregation between the two races and it is very apparent in Brisbane. I have been told not to make eye contact with them for my safety, which seems like a shame. But my friend Damien was approached by a very hostile Aboriginal man one day on the street right outside our house and, well, it didn't end with kind words, so I guess they were on to something
Earlier that week had I spent two days working for this insanely hostile Russian woman at Abraham's restaurant in Brisbane's CBD (central business district) before she fired me - possibly because I was indignant but hey, I don't like people who are assholes treating me with disrespect. So yeah, I was indignant! That was my first experience working for a rude hospitality manager and it was not the last. I never thanked Abraham for sticking me with that atrocious woman but I figured some things are better left unsaid.
In the meantime at the Blue Tongue I also met Kira, a young German woman who directed me to the restaurant where she was working at Eagle Street Pier, a fun area with lots of restaurants overlooking the Brisbane River. I didn't end up working at her place, but did score a job at Sake, an upscale contemporary Japanese restaurant in the same area that same week. I did a trial shift on Friday night and worked my first shift the following Tuesday. All in all, things were looking up!