Sunday, 27 August 2017

Dan // Hotel Waiter (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of Dan's ongoing saga of working in a high-end hotel in Eilat: read Part 1 here.

I worked split shifts to start with. A full day of split shifts would start with the breakfast shift at 7am through to 1pm, then home for 5 hours then back from 6pm to midnight for dinner. It wasn’t great.

As I imagine is the case with most commercial eating establishments, the restaurant was separated into segments. At the start of a shift you were given a segment, and that was then yours to take care of: serve food and drinks, clear tables, clean up and re-set them, etc. I would linger in the staff locker room before the shift started: pretend to lose my name tag, find it again, just really drag things out. If everything went to plan I'd turn up after most of the sections had been doled out. I'd self-designate as a support role and wander around everyone else’s sections, gently helping out for a couple of hours until the hall had filled out nicely. Then I’d go to the door and seat a couple of families in a new section I'd claim as my own, only ever dealing with these two or three families instead of the usual 10 or so in any one section. Alan would sometimes exasperatedly attempt to get me to haul anchor and go do stuff elsewhere but I’d be damned if I was going to deny these good people the close and attentive service they deserved, few though they may have been.

The trays we used to carry all the shit back to the kitchen from the restaurant were huge, just massive things. I'm pretty useless at everything I turn my hands to, so I had no idea how I was supposed to put more than a couple of plates on this thing and carry it back without dropping something. Obviously there's a safe, efficient way of holding the tray: one hand under it, resting one side on your shoulder for support. However on my first day I held it at my waist, one hand at each end like an accordion. This was a terrible way of doing things. As soon as there was a little weight on the tray it would start bending and buckling, sending everything at the edges sliding towards the middle, before spectacularly crashing onto the floor just as I made it into the back kitchen.

I was gently roasted by my co-workers for being such a weapon, but Alan seemed genuinely pissed that I didn’t immediately start stacking plates 50 high. I didn’t appreciate the chewing out he gave me that - as they often did with him - verged on the ad hominem. During a quiet moment later that day one of my co-workers taught me how to hold a tray properly, but for the next few days any time Alan was near I’d hold the tray like an accordion again, gazing at him with unconvincing apologetic fear in my eyes as another couple of glasses smashed on the floor.

At the end of a shift I'd gather up all the little ceramic pots full of sugar sachets, put them on a trolley, and take them down to the very end of the buffet hall where no-one could see me. There I'd dump the sugar and sweetener sachets out onto a table, then extremely carefully, precisely, and slowly, re-pack them with new sachets. This was - I think - a real job that had to be done, but I turned it into a whole big operation that could only be completed in studious isolation, far away from the gritty, unpleasant work of the final hour, such as clearing tables and wiping down seats.