Working in New York

It was after I’d been working at the sandwich bar for over two months that my boss told me she’d only given me the job because I looked like her brother!
It’s just as well she had, too, because it was my salary that was paying for the rent on our dimly-lit basement apartment in Brooklyn. My girlfriend was spending most of her money on paying off her school fees (thousands and thousands of dollars in America, by the way) and on top of all that we were trying to save money to leave the States and start a new life together somewhere else.
Despite the fact that money was tight, I was having a ball. Catching the bus along Atlantic Avenue to go to work, and occasionally the D train into Manhattan to go sightseeing. Food shopping in Korean delis and drinking beer in sports bars with the locals. How many Brits get the chance to live an authentic New York experience?
I was having fun at work, too. My colleagues were young and up for a laugh, the Filipino chef was a bright, cheerful woman with huge glasses perched precariously on her tiny nose. She made excellent food and I can still taste her spicy chicken salad to this day. Even the customers were civil, polite and friendly. They loved my British accent and would often chat enthusiastically as I refilled their coffee cups and took their sandwich orders. In addition to my salary, I made pretty good money on tips and I even scored a side-gig as a barman serving cocktails in a black tuxedo at dinner parties.
When I first arrived in The Big Apple, I was unemployed. I went from shop to shop for days on end looking for any casual job that didn’t need a formal work visa. By the end of the second week, I’d found work in a religious Jewish supermarket, packing boxes at the checkout and carrying the shopping to customers’ cars. But that job didn’t last long and it was badly paid and ridiculously long hours.
The sandwich bar was a much better job and I only worked from 9am until 3pm. After work, I would catch the bus back to the apartment and jog around Prospect Park for an hour enjoying the spring weather and laid-back vibe of one of Brooklyn’s green spots.
Six months after I arrived, my girlfriend and I were packing our bags for the next exciting chapter of our lives. I was sad to leave Brooklyn and it holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been back there to visit, but it no longer holds the same magic. Not only had the neighbourhood changed, but I had, too.

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