at my new job: among thieves, cocaine-addicts, rose-sellers and narrowminded ex-pats living in a pubble

I should be so lucky.
I have a job in Barcelona.

This guy sells blinking plastic rings. He is from Pakistan, his name is Mohammad, he is 42 years old. His wife and one daughter are still in Pakistan, He has been here for 8 years. Some nights he sells nothing. What he makes, he sends back home. This evening it was very cold and he came to the place where I work, to warm himself up a little bit. He works in the barrio of Barceloneta, a neighbourhood by the beach.
So do I.
Another Pakistani guy leaves his bunch of roses by our Walkers crisps. He is out every night of the week, walks from pub to bar to restaurant, selling roses. Most owners and staff throw him out- he is not allowed.
One night he came to me after a long nights' work, and asked me to please change his earned money for the night into a €10-bill. He gave me €9.80. I felt so happy to give him that 0.20 so he could say he had earned €10.
Another night three Catalan men came into the place I work, and ordered the cheapest beer we sell, and then asked me "do you have a bicycle?". I said "no, I use Bicing, why?" and they pointed out to this particular bicycle-stand, and said there is a guy sitting there, with a saw, quietly stealing a bike. I immediately went to the window, opened it, and said "Oye, la bici es mía, dejalo!" - hey you, the bike is mine, leave it! He walked away, saying, "Vale"- ok.
An hour after Mohammad had left, he came back, and gave me a gift. But it turned out to not be working. So he promised to come the next night with one that could do the blinking.
And so he came, and we had a chat. The place I work in was not that busy, so I stood over the bar, and watched Mohammad write my name in Urdu. It looked beautiful.
A regular customer, a lady in her 60's who has lived in Barcelona for 7 years, and speaks no Spanish, looked at me through her drunken eyes and then called me over and said, with a serious and deep voice "Are you allright?" and I said, yes, why..? She said I shouldn't encourage that man. He was not allowed there, she said.
One morning, I received four CV's from people coming in to ask for jobs.
My boss saw them, and threw them in the bin.
I picked them up again. I thought they were very brave to go inside an establishment and ask for a job. In person. I have been too afraid to do that. I have felt embarrassed to do it.
I looked closer at the CV's when I got home, because I was afraid to do it in front of my boss. They were all around 30 years old, and from different countries; Romania, Peru, Pakistan, and Chech Republic.
Why have they chosen to come to Spain, with its economical crisis?
Are their countries even worse off?

Then there is me. I have this job, that many people would be super happy to have.
And I got it. But I wish I had another job. I don't like it so much that I am serving British people British food and drink in the sun. They abuse alcohol and cocaine, they don't speak Spanish. They live in the pub, inside their British bubble. They live in a pubble.
I just don't understand. Why did they come here, if they want nothing to do with life here?
This guy, from England, sits there every single weekend, and drinks til he can't speak and stand properly. When "his" football team is playing, he is screaming out loud to the TV-screen "Don't do stupid things, you fucking idiot!" and I can't help but wonder who is doing the most stupid things. He's not even playing- he's just sitting there, drinking!
All of them have "their" team, and when they are really drunk, they discuss "their" football team. Imagine a very drunk, loud voice talking about the latest Arsenal-game in "we"-form. "We scored..."
And then there are the people on holiday.
Some days I am just seriously shocked. I serve them the food from "their" culture and hear them talk on the phone to their friends at home. "I'm in Barcelona! This was John's Christmas present to me..innit... Lovely!" And the fat British girls who told me they'd just arrived in Barcelona and were so excited to be here, and their first stop is...the pub. The pubble.
A regular customer who is always blood-red in his face once told me his girlfriend has lost all her family and he's all she's got. I heard myself saying that he should consider stopping all that drinking, then, if he cared about her.

One part of the Barcelona population is living in a bubble, with addictions and too much time and money to spend. The other half is desperately searching for a new life, money, a job.
At least from the point of view of where I stand, behind the bar.


  1. Ouch!
    And "Are their countries even worse off?" - YEAH and that's a fact!
    Very good written.

    1. thank you Dani... yes i guess they are worse off... at least we have sun here? or..? today i met a polish guy my age, living on the street... he says he cannot go back to poland to ask his parents for help, he's "too old" for that. so he prefers to be here, where the winter is very short, and where he can sleep in the bank cajeros... wow.
      big hug to you!!!


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