"I am actually a jane-of-all-trades"

(Wo)man at work: Hostess at Radium Boulders


Anouk Broers/ 22/ first-year research master’s of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience/ works on average 15 hours a week/ earns €11 net per hour

T.I.T.S., Dikke lul 3 bier, Lowlander IPA, tripel Karmeliet and various other craft beers are in the refrigerator at the bar of the Radium Boulders climbing hall. The bar is a match for any fancy bar. It has a hip, industrial style and everything is at hand: from draught beer to pizzas from a brick kiln to fresh coffee from a large luxurious coffee machine.

“Two ice coffees, please,” says a father with his son Tom to Broers. “You are quick on the draw,” Broers laughs while she mixes a little coffee, ice cubes, some milk and hazelnut syrup in a glass. The ice coffee has only been on the menu since yesterday. “This was the first time I made one, but I think it went well.” Tom and his father give an affirmative nod. Broers: “Colleagues came up with the recipe yesterday and put it in our group chat. We had a workshop for the other coffees.”

Manning the bar is only one of Broers’ tasks. “I am actually a jane-of-all-trades: I welcome people, I occasionally wander through the hall, I process subscriptions and I …” “I forgot my pass,” says a young girl of about ten. “What's your name? Then I can have a look on the computer,” Broers answers. “I've checked you in, you can go climbing.”

Normally, climbers check in by holding their personal pass up against the sensor, Broers explains. “When the light turns green, you can continue and if the light turns red, you most likely have an unpaid bill that you will first need to pay. Then you may go in. After checking in, the majority of the climbers grab a long spoon to take a sweet from the large jar beside the sensor. Especially the young climbers are quick to find the sweet jar, and not just once. “We started it and now we have to keep it going, we will never get rid of it again, ha-ha. It takes ten kilo a week.” 

A guy comes to the bar: “A grip is loose.” Broers goes into the kitchen and returns with a drill to fasten the screw on the climbing grip. “That is also part of the job,” Broers says. Just like selling the special climbing shoes in the shop beside the bar. They can also be hired: sizes 29 up to 51 can be found on the rack at the other side of the bar.

After a Bachelor's in Utrecht, Broers - who is from Groningen - came to Maastricht for a Master's of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience. It is her mother's native town. Her grandmother, uncle and aunty still live here, but apart from them she didn't know anyone here. To meet new people, she joined Maassac, Maastricht's student climbing association, even though she had no climbing experience. Together with them she visited former rubber factory Radium for the first time, where the climbing hall is located. “The week after, she went back to talk to them about a job. I go climbing myself when it is quiet, because if I go when it's busy, I spend my time just chatting, ha-ha.”

What makes it so much fun? “Climbing is a good workout, but also a very social sport. When someone is climbing, there is usually a group at the bottom puzzling along with you.” The social side seems to attract her most. Every customer who enters is greeted with “hey, how are you?” and every colleague gets a hug. “I practically live here and most of my colleagues are always here, even when they are not working. We officially close at 11 o'clock, but we usually stay for one hour longer.”