Sunday, August 13, 2006

Helping Out

Working in a hotel, it is inevitable that you will recieve many calls for help from other departments. They need help covering someone who just phoned in sick, they're getting hammered with walk-ins, there's just been a huge delivery, etc etc. I always try to help if I am able, and usually end up helping even if Im not. After all the more you help others, the more likely they are to help you when you need it. Thats the situation I found myself in this morning.

Henning, the Brasserie manager, asked if there was anybody free to help out for a short while with breakfast. Those words strike fear into the hearts of the bravest of men and women. Breakfast is the combat zone - full scale conflict, its never pretty, but less so on a Sunday morning, staring down the back of a full house on Saturday. There is just something about mornings that makes people cranky and irritable. Im speaking from experience here, because I hate mornings, Im a night owl kind of person. Needless to say my two co-workers this morning didnt volunteer, so I felt obliged to help. Now I really hate helping out in an environment where I know nothing, and the brasserie falls fair and square right into that category. I dont know table plans, layouts, where the mis-en-place is, the menu, anything. I dont work in there so why would I? So I volunteered to clear tables - thats almost always a safe bet, and its fairly straightforward. Besides that also the one crucial job on a sunday morning scrimmage - clearing tables - because there are always loads of relays.

So armed with my squirt bottle of cleaner and a couple of cloths, I set about polishing the empty tables so they can be relayed. Then I start clearing the dirty tables that people have left. I've had some bad experiences doing that, where I've accidently cleared someones table while they have been up at the buffet. That didnt go down too well!!! And all the while Im doing this I start recalling some of the nightmares that I experienced at Gleneagles working the breakfast shift until I refused to do it anymore. For the six months that I stayed in staff accomodation up at the Glen, the sommeliers were regularly rostered on for Sunday breakfast. Now that truly was a combat zone. Breakfast was served then from 7am until 10:30am. Guess what time 70% of residents chose to come down for breakfast. 10am. The first three hours were dead, the odd guest who happens to be an early riser, or have a longe return home ahead of them, then come 10am BANG - you get slaughtered. The queue ran from the restaurant doors all the way up the long corridor until it got to the bar, then it snaked round the corner and got tangled up with reception. People start off grumpy, then they get frustrated then anger sets in, then they get really stroppy and start mouthing off. We used to have a couple of guys run up and down the corridor fetching them muffins, juice and tea or coffee to try and ease the pain a bit (for them and us!!). Then the carnage begins as they get seated and set about demolishing the buffet. The buffet was staffed by six people (I always insisted on working the hot buffet) and three runners who just constantly replenish the trays. Those poor buggers run miles each and every morning backwards and forwards from the kitchen. Then as soon as it all started, its all over. Its 11:30 and youve got one hour to completely reset the restaurant for lunch. That is why I hate sundays, or more specifically working on a sunday. Luckily the Arkle is closed on sundays so I dont have to suffer the pain. But today has brought back some unpleasant memories, and thankfully it is only once in a blue moon.

No comments: