Just so everyone is aware, this post will not be about writing. I figured I should HAVE at least one or two token posts about life, thus justifying my blog’s title (or subtitle if you rally want to be technical). But enough of this. Here we go.
During the months of September through April, I am a full-time student. This simply means that I go to school every day of the week – as if you didn’t already know this. During these months I work part-time, and over the summer months I work full-time hours and then some. This in itself is a pretty basic concept. Most students go through this routine. For me, the tricky part comes when I have to explain not just what my job is, but also what the function of my workplace is.
Sure I can say that I am a Dietary Aide at Queen’s House, but since nobody seems to have heard of Queen’s House I don’t waste time waiting for their questions, so instead I say: “I work as a Dietary Aide at a retreat and conference centre”. Even that, however, can throw people through a loop.
“So what do you do as a…uh…Dietary Aide?”
Well, in all honesty, it’s pretty much just a fancy title for dishwasher, although I do have other jobs. When I explain it to people I usually just stick with the dishwasher response, because it’s quite simple and short. However, because this is my blog, I can go into as much detail as I wish. And I will.
Aside from washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen at Queen’s House, I do things like make salads, veggie trays and fruit trays, like these:
I get to prep food for the cooks (they seem to love having me peel and chop potatoes), decorate desserts and other minor jobs (like making garlic butter, slicing meet, pouring coffee and tea at fancier banquets, and so on). There is actually quite a range of tasks that I can do in any given day, which is why I really like working there. I’m not stuck at a sick washing dishes for eight hours, just as I’m not stuck wiping, cleaning, sweeping and mopping for eight hours either. I get to do a little bit of everything. It’s the best part about the job. Well, that, and all the free food I get.
While this is all fine and plain, many people seemed stumped as to the purpose of a ‘retreat and conference centre’. Yes we have a full kitchen and several dining areas, some larger than others. But no, we are not a restaurant. Yes we have over seventy rooms for people to stay overnight, but no we are not a hotel. Basically, groups of people – sometimes as small as half a dozen to as large as 150 – rent out the building, or parts of the building, for any number of things.
Some people go on retreats for an extended period with a church group, workplace or any kind of group. Last week we had seventy priests on retreat, all of them staying for the whole week. Every day this week is a different group of 100 teachers, who are here just for the day. A while ago city council rented out a room here. People have used us for their family reunions. There have been retreats for people with AIDS, or people suffering mental health issues, or people with addictions, or just a community or group of people that go on a retreat to get away from their lives for a little while, which is why the official title of my workplace is: Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre. Queen’s House is serviceable to pretty much anyone. A group of writers on a writing retreat, a church group for a centering prayer, a Buddhist silent retreat, a weekend of yoga….I could go on and on. I’ve only been there nine months now, but I’ve catered to dozens and dozens of different groups all there for a different reason. There’s something new and exciting every time I work. Each group has a different agenda, so it’s not the same mundane thing day after day.
I hope that helps to explain what I do a little better, and I hope you now realize why I short answer is really not the best way to explain my job. It’s not like saying I’m a teacher, or a doctor, or a police officer. It’s not a job, or a workplace, that I lot of people know about, which is kind of cool I guess.
And, it’s got to have the best property in all of Saskatoon. It’s at the end of a fairly major street here in the city, but it overlooks the river, is encompassed in trees and really makes you feel like you’ve left the city. Just an ideal spot…the perfect place for a relaxing retreat. There are so many windows in the building, too, and it’s in an almost pyramidal shape, with half of the building extending into a basement, so that each dining room, conference hall, meeting room and prayer room feels like it’s secluded from the rest of the building. It also has a full sized chapel for any religious functions.
I absolutely love working there.
This was pretty much a very long way to say that I am quite happy in my life right now, and not even my work is a negative aspect.
Don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still enjoy my job.
That’s all I’ve got.
Thanks for reading!