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This review is based on my personal experience at one Wetherspoon pub, and on other viewpoints from friends who have been employed by J D Wetherspoons.
WHAT IS J D WETHERSPOON?
J D Wetherspoon is a chain of restaurant/pubs in almost every city and large town around the UK. J D Wetherspoon also has 10 lodges covering the UK. They have separate smoking, non-smoking and family sections. There is a menu of around 50 meals from fish and chips to lasagne, all at reasonably cheep prices and offers on food during the week. They cater for almost every drinker; they have a variety of guest ales, alcho-pops, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks. Again, these are cheaply priced and there are offers on throughout the week. Most of the J D Wetherspoon pubs are in old buildings of historic interest, normally with contemporary interior design. J D Wetherspoon has a reputation for having odd toilets! Usually with sofas and chairs, or barricades of mirrors.
WHO ARE THEY AS EMPLOYERS?
J D Wetherspoon claim to provide the following things for their staff… (Information from www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk )
A decent wage Fun Develop skills Enhance experience A lively working environment Rewards for the effort you put into your job Flexibility to do different hours Opportunities to develop into a shift manager Award-winning training program
However I did not experience any of these.
HOW I GOT THE JOB
On my first summer holiday back home from university I needed to get a job. Primarily my need was for money, but I also needed to get
out of a house I had no control over!
The experience that I had at the time was waitressing and pharmaceutical assistance, but I wanted to work in a bar. Why? Because I’d just spent a year at university stinking of alcohol and my parents hadn’t been there to mind, now I was at home I needed an excuse!
So I trundled around a few pubs in my home town (Exmouth) until J.D.Wetherspoons (The Powder Monkey) said that they had a position. In an informal interview (with coffee provided) I was asked about experience, although I had none they were willing to train me, and I would start that night. I was to be paid £4.10 an hour, which at the time I thought was incredible. I would work different shifts each week, 10 – 5, 12 – 9, or 6 – finish. They were longer hours than I had ever worked before, but the pay was better and I was working in a pub!
THE FIRST NIGHT
It is Friday. By the time I’d pushed my way through the developing crowds in the “Monkey” I was terrified. I knew that swarm of people were all waiting for someone to serve them, and that someone would be me. I was shown where to put my clutter, handed a uniform and told to change and by the time I got down the stairs I felt ready to start pulling pints.
No such luck, despite being told that I would be working at the bar; tonight I would be on the floor. This meant pushing my way through the mountains of customers, to get to the tables that they were hoarding around, to collect any used plates, glasses cutlery and anything else left on the table, only to find my self faced with a bombardment of questions like “Were is my Burger?” the answers to which I did not know, nor did I know where to find out from.
The night went on and I began to find my feet, but by 11:00 my feet wanted to loose me! At 1:00, after more cleaning up, polishing tables and setting them out for tomorrow morning, I was approached by the manager, “You have done a really good job tonight Treley, especially as you were pushed in at the deep end.”
So far, I had no real reasons to complain, this was my job and that was how it was going to be; my feet would have to get used to it.
SOME TIME LATER
£4.10 was a joke, the hours were a joke and the job was a joke! I’d be on the rostra for a Friday night, which could mean working until 2:00am, and then also for the following morning at 10am. I would be aloud one half an hour break during this time, where I had to cover up my uniform if I was going to eat downstairs. I had to pay for anything I ate or drank. One Saturday night I had to take all meals out, bring all plates in and glass collect while the “Floor manager” spent all night gossiping in the kitchen. When I asked him for help he just told me, “You are doing very well yourself.” I was not trained on the bar until I had been working a month, despite this being my job description.
SOME MORE TIME LATER
It is a Monday. By this time I knew that bar work was better than washing glassed and an understaffed bar. I had a second job at a Young’s pub by the beach which, in spite of its busyness and the pain in my feet, was a fun place to work in. I wanted to stop working for Mr Wetherspoon, only I felt sorry for the rest of the staff who would get my work load. I walked in on the dot of 11:58 and stalked upstairs to change. Little did I know that there was a reason that I had stuck with this job for so long, and that reason was waiting downstairs to be served. As I reached the bar there was a man wearing a brown leather jacket with an empty pint glass in front of him. “Smile then, love” he commented, “I’m here, why should I smile” I mumbled while giving him a sarcastic grin. “I’m smiling on the inside. (Stupid, drunk man!)” He was served by the other (equally as depressed) barman and then waltzed back to me. I was desperately trying to polish a clean bar and serve imaginary customers… Anyway, to cut a long story short, that is the man who I am engaged to marry, and the man who gave me the courage to quit!
WHAT I LEARNED FROM WORKING AT J D WETHERSPOON
How to pull a pint. That most of the food served at J D Wetherspoon comes straight out of the freezer into a deep fat fryer (the same one for everything aside from chips). That “floor” work hurts your feet. That some men who drink at 12 noon are actually quite nice!
GOOD POINTS OF WORKING FOR J D WETHERSPOON
You can transfer to any other pub around the country, which is perfect if you are a student who spends the summers at home. There are always positions available. Informal interview process You don’t have to have experience, as full training will be given (eventually) You are working in a pub, which has its good points! If you are more than a “Bar and Kitchen Associate” (a monkey) then you can get a decent wage for little work, that’s what the monkeys are there for! You may meet your ideal partner (but you could do this anywhere!).
BAD POINTS ABOUT WORKING FOR J D WETHERSPOON
Poor wages for anyone under a supervisor. Unsociable working times. Knowing how the food is prepared. Being over worked and underappreciated. - see evaluation below.
The staff in my local Wetherspoons are a bunch of drips. I actually think that the pub has been on the verge of closure for ages due to a drug problem! Classy!
Lancashire_Angel 06.04.2004 21:37
My brother was a bar manager, later a branch manager for JD's for several years before giving up to go back to uni and he had the exact same complaints as you, he often worked a 7-day week with no negotiation, and when he had the flu AND had an exam the next day (he was re-sitting his A-levels) and didn't go to work for the first time in 4 years they rang up and gave him a load of abuse for not turning in so he told them to f*** their job and quit (rightly so). He often had shifts ending at 2am and starting up again at 6am taking deliveries and stuff and one Christmas Eve he even had his hand bottled by a drunk punter whilst trying to break up a fight and spent Christmas Day in hospital waiting for stitches, not so much as an apology, or compensation from JDs although they did let him have that night off (generous eh?) Important I think to spread the word that not everyone's experience is so rosy and I'm glad you decided to quit! Sharron xxx
m.lyon 06.04.2004 18:42
I rather have them pulled than do the pulling!!! Great op. Marc