Friday, December 22, 2006

Hazardous to my health

I sometimes think that this industry should carry a health warning, much like cigarettes do, and if the Eurocrats get they way wine bottles too. Maybe it should be enblazoned across our wage slips - Warning - working in the hospitality industry will ruin your sleep pattern, your diet, your social life, your financial security - it will generally just f&*k you up! I feel I have earned the right to say that. My diet is appalling - partially a victim of circumstance and partly my own apathy to change it. My eating pattern is shot to hell and beyond. I currently get by on one or if im lucky two meals a day with "nibbles" inbetween. That meal is usually served after I finish work - ie around one am. My only exercise consists of running up and down to the cellar several times a night, not to mention the miles we walk everyday. Im currently "surviving" on around four or five hours of interupted sleep a night (not entirely the hotels fault - my three year old has developed an internal alarm clock he has set to 5:30am, and believes that because he is up, then everyone else should be too.Im starting to sympathise with the parents in those NSPCC adverts, although I would never ever condone violence towards children, I find my temper getting shorter and shorter with each passing day.) I need an industrial sandblaster to remove the layers of dead skin that are building up on my feet daily due in no small part to spending the best part of fourteen hours a day on my feet.

My relationship with my wife and family is almost non-existent. Working an average of 56 hours a week, more at xmas and may races and stocktake week and busy weeks, and most weeks in fact. An average day is at least twelve hours at least ten of which will be spend on our feet. I speak to my wife almost everyday on the phone. I see her in the morning when she leaves, and at night, asleep, when I come home. Of our two days off she works one day, leaving me one whole day with her and the kids. We spend an average of 12 hours a week in each others company. Thats a really shit deal for her, as she has to deal with the kids on her own five nights out of seven. Perhaps its no wonder that Ive been given till April to get a new job, or find a divorce lawyer.

In fact after looking at this sorry state of affairs the only saving grace is that I dont smoke. And better than that, the hotel is a smoke free environment, so Im not even second-hand smoking. So if youre reading this and thinking about whether or not to get into the hospitality industry you might be thinking "well why do they do it?". Good question! It sure as shit aint for the money. My salary averaged out over the number of hours I work works out to less than minimum wage. The hospitality industry is notorious for slave labour like wages, until that is you hit the upper management levels at which point the rewards are pretty serious for the right places. So why do we do it? I often wonder that myself, and the answer that I always come back to is we do it for the love. You see at the quality level I work at, we all love our jobs. Sure we bitch and moan about the hours and the pay, conditions etc etc. But we all get an enormous amount of job satisfaction from a smooth service. When people walk out the door at the end of the night, having had a great meal, with good, friendly service and they come back several days/weeks/months later with friends/family/colleagues, then we know we've done a good job. It gives us a sense of pride, of acheivement to know that we can make a persons evening special.

So next time you're out in a restaurant, take a look at the staff, smile at them, be appreciative and you'll get a lot more in return. Its karma!

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