My Austrian misstep: Ich bin “screwed”

My Austrian misstep: Ich bin “screwed”


Nicely decorated, well-kept, small villages that are experiencing the biggest glory during winter months. Yes, I am talking about Austrian villages located in the Alps. There are many of them and you would hardly recognise one from another but after this winter there is a one I will remember well and Saalbach is its name.

To describe my story consequently I will jump into the day when it has all begun. That day I got an offer to spend one and a half month working as a waiter in this (at that time what I thought to be) charming village. The thing was that I just got few hours to make my decision and then had to leave in three days. Honestly, the decision was pretty fast. What is there not to like, about this idea? Quite a good money, nice journey, into the area I wanted to try someday, and last, but not least, an opportunity to brush up on my German language. So I said yes.

I have packed my things and started being excited but also a bit anxious about my journey. The anxiety was there because of my fear from german language, I haven’t used it for quite a while. Ironically, as the time shown up, this wasn’t a thing to worry about so much.

To move a bit forward in the time lets hop on the journey. With my big suitcase, snowboard and snowboard boots in my hands, two train changes, hour and a half waiting in a cold outside for a bus that never shown up and in total around 10 hours of the journey I finally reached my destination with a taxi. A destination presented by a hotel that I was supposed to live in and work for

On the road

But hey, troubles during a journey is something you need to count with and be prepared for. Therefore this didn’t take any of my enthusiasm. Especially when I was warmly welcomed and led into my new room. Which I have to say was quite spacious with a double bed and two closets. What can you wish more for? Well as I found out the other day, for a window maybe, or for a better heater?

Yes, the next day I have started discovering flaws. But this was just the beginning.

The first day wasn’t the best day in my life. I finally understood what is it like to go somewhere when you are just a beginner in the language. Just like my self-confident with german language were far gone and I have found out that I cannot communicate. Also, it was my first day so everything was quite new, nervous and not very easy to get used to for. I think the accurate sentence, that came into my mind that night describing the situation, was: ich bin “screwed” (I am screwed).

After the first week, it started to be a bit better (at least some parts). My german was getting better rapidly (probably not grammatically) but I just got rid of my fear of talking. I was even getting into the system of work (if there was any) and my feet were slowly stopping to heart so much from “running” 8 hours a day through the restaurant.

Unfortunately, my room wasn’t getting any better – no windows and no sunshine during the whole day is something that can get you pretty depressive and I was about to become ill from cold temperatures there. However, as I always say the first week is the toughest one, and with this thought, I was comforting myself to an upcoming day off, when everything ought to settle down.

Zell am see
Zell am see

But the next week was kind of a myth buster for me when I had found out that not every time you can rely on your previous experiences nor your expectations of a country development (especially in the area of respecting people). I always thought that Austria is a well-developed country with some standards, with some system and methods at work, just like some courtesy I got used to in Britain. But that was a very wrong assumption. They were very …well I would say even greedy people ..and with everything – the food, the heating, the staff. With the customers there wasn’t any courtesy required, no talking to people, being nice to them. Just quickly bring the food, the drinks, clean, because there wasn’t enough time since there wasn’t enough staff. And charge the customers as much as possible for everything that is possible.

Therefore, everything escalated quickly. The job was unbearable (and they took the only joy from this work for me, the courtesy of talking to customers) it was too much work for just a two of us there plus the owner was, by my judgment, a psychopath. Every day all the time he was screaming at everyone there, for no reason. Every time he came, he was trying to engage in everything even though he didn’t know a thing about it and just made everything slower and more complicated. And his manners were just obscure. By the end of the second week, I had enough of this treatment. I was actually every night sitting with my laptop translating sentences like – “don’t scream at me, I am not a dog but a human being or how am I supposed to do that or know that”, just all kinds of sentences that I could finally reply to his aggressive and irrational behaviour.

But by the end, I have decided with one of my colleagues,  that no matter how much money we can earn, it’s not possible to stay there, not even one more months. Therefore when we would get our salary for the days we have worked there, we would pack our things and leave this place. And we had done so. We left him there to scream at himself and finally find out what is the job about and how should he treat people. Even though he will probably never realise it but I didn’t do it to harm him. I’ve just done it to release myself from this chains of anger and irrationality.

In conclusion I would like to add that you can never judge a whole country just by one place you have worked at (I know that already from Cyprus) but I have heard even from other people going through same troubles like I had and at that time I had no energy nor passion for staying there and looking for a different place. So my trip to learn german ended up after 3 weeks not very happily, but I take it with a grace, as a great experience, that taught me something new and also made me realise what my next steps should look like. So hopefully I will remember this feeling and realisation and put them into effect.

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