Working in Rio has been an interesting experience so far. I'm a chefe de fila or junior manager for a restaurant/bar at a posh hotel in Copacabana. It has been exhausting not only because I'm on my feet all day, but the work week in the service industry in Brazil is 6 days a week. After being a lady of leisure for a year this takes time getting used to and one day off a week is not enough rest.
Part of my job involves managing schedules and vacations for my team and that has been truly eye-opening. What's impressive is that in Brazil employees get 30 vacation days, 30 sick days and about 25 public holidays per year. It sounds wonderful, especially compared to the US and UK, but it can be problematic at times. It's nice to know that I'm compensated when I'm sick here, whereas in all my previous restaurant jobs I didn't get paid if I didn't come to work. However, I do get the impression that people take the piss and abuse their sick days in this industry. On one hand they are there for the taking, but when you know people call in sick and aren't sick it disrupts the whole team. There is one catch though - in order to get compensated for your sick day you have to provide a doctor's note. I've never had to do that before and I hate going to the doctors.
It's also very difficult to motivate a bad employee. In Brazil if you want to dismiss someone for whatever reason, you have to pay 6 months salary compensation. Can you believe that! So apparently companies avoid letting go staff at all costs and employees know that they can get away with a lot of shit, especially in the industry I'm in. What's also challenging is that most of the people I work with aren't really into food or the restaurant industry. It's a stark contrast to my experience in New York and London, where people had to consistently perform well to keep jobs but there was also a kind of foody passion within the team. I really miss that.
I'm also aware that salaries and culture play huge factors. My income pales in comparison to London, but the cost of living here is really high. I make about a third of what I was making in my last job, but our rent is just slightly below what we were paying in Hackney. Also Rio's food culture is centered around butecos, dive bars and street food. I feel like the growing restaurant culture here is driven by the small percentage of gringoes like me and affluent Brazilians.
On the positive side everyone at the hotel has been so welcoming and my Portuguese is really improving. I've noticed that I'm translating less in my head and able to speak more fluidly and naturally. Next week is the beginning of Carnaval, so that should be interesting. I'll let you know how working that goes.