Hotel Management.....Why Do I Do This?

09 July 2008

The Life We Choose.

The familiar beep of a text message, as I threw my coffee down my throat, and looked for my car keys, I read that one of my housekeepers would 'not be coming to work today', as 'things are a bit awkward at home right now'.

I was, I admit a bit pissed off, I don't like letting co-workers down, and I hate being let down myself, so I answered with a sarcastic 'will you be in tomorrow?' type reply, and headed off for my hour long commute to work.

I spent the day whizzing around like a blue arsed fly, we are at full occupancy, and a tiny bit understaffed, so when someone can't get out of bed after a night in the pub, it causes us major problems and huge bad feeling.

She's new, but we missed her, she's good at the job, loads of common sense, and great craic, gets on well with the girls, the guests like her, I like her.

Later in the day, after many mumbled curses about unreliable staff, one of my supervisors told me she wanted to speak 'in secret' with me...a quick look at the translator on her WAP phone, (handy little gadget), told her that 'private' was a better option!

She had just been speaking to our absent friend, and what she told me had me feeling guilty for the rest of the day.

Our housekeeper had arrived home from work the previous evening, to find her husband asleep on the sofa, he had been drinking in the pub all day Sunday, and now she had come home to find that he had done nothing, no meal for the children, the house a mess, and she was understandably annoyed. She told him to stop snoring and go to bed, although knowing her as I do, she must have thrown in a few expletives...words were exchanged and he took this as an excuse to kick seven kinds of shit out of her.

She wasn't taking any calls, so when she finally came in to see me, I was relieved to see that she was ok, bruised, hair missing, in pain, but 'ok'.

She told me a tale of a woman, married to a man for 14 years, two children, who left her family in another country to be with her husband, who miscarried twins.

A woman finally able to go out to work for a little bit of independence, a woman trying to do her best for her children.

A woman with a burst eye.

A woman worried about losing her job.

Unshockable me just could not believe what I was hearing....how had she not hit him with the frying pan, or ran out of the house, or had him thrown in jail? All the questions that you want to ask someone who is pouring out their life to you, but you don't because it must be hard enough to tell the tale without expanding on the misery.

She didn't ask for advice, and I didn't offer any, she is a strong 40-something, she has family support, all I could do was listen and gaze a little too long at her injuries, although most were hidden.

After a week or so off work, she was able to come back. She told me that she had not gone to the Gardai because she didn't want her kids to be ashamed of him, that she was sure he wouldn't do it again, and it was all recorded on her medical files, so that..

... 'if it did happen again, and she died that they would know that he was a wife beater and throw away the key'

She has been making beds as well as anyone today, apart from the discolouration on her face, you would never guess she had been thrown down a flight of stairs.

We all have a choice, how we live our lives, what job we do, who we live with, how do you tell someone that chooses to be a victim that they deserve to be happy?

How do you tell a whiny, freeloading guest to stop complaining about the rotten weather....?





For anyone outside of Ireland....it's raining....hard....every day....*blub*




07 July 2008

'Another Satisfied Customer'

Hmm, long time no blog...

There is never a dull moment in my job, but a combination of my appalling memory, appalling Internet connection, trying to stay sort of anonymous, and age catching up with me means that I don't keep up with the rest of the prolific bloggers who keep telling me off for not writing!

I'm making no promise about how I will sit and write every night before I fall asleep, because I won't keep it, but as it has been pointed out to me many times by certain individuals, I really should document my experiences as I am heading into senility big time, my memory is awful as it is... God knows what it's going to be like in a few years time! (Just had *another* birthday...gulp!)

Recently, something happened that I want to record, and I would appreciate any comments about how I handled it, especially from other hotel workers.

I have a very strong Housekeeping team, and although I am not an Accommodation Manager these days, I still run the Department and, try to, look after them.

We are very busy, running at about 75% occupancy, which is amazing considering the 'credit crunch' and how families are opting for cheaper holidays abroad. Other managers who are friends have told me this week that they wish they were turning over the same as us. Some days I wish we were empty, the days that are manic, and we can't see an end to it, but then you have to remember that it's money in the bank, and the girls are getting good hours.

I like the pressure, I thrive on the mania, some of my best ideas have come out of total disaster, I'm not proud of that, I want to be a mouse, quiet, unassuming, keeping my head down, but at a certain age you have to accept things about yourself, and a mouse cannot run this operation.

However much experience you have, whatever the job throws at you, you cannot deny your personality, your morals, or your opinion of dickheads.

The housekeepers were just finishing up for the day, and were unloading the van, and generally getting sorted out for the next day. As I was inspecting the lodges and was close by, I saw a guest at his front door speaking to our linen porter. I thought our guy looked a bit taken aback, and the girls too had shocked looks on their faces.

Once we were all back in the safety of our department, I asked them what had gone on.

The guest had shouted over to the linen porter asking him for some toilet paper, some dishwasher tabs and some towels, now we provide a good stock of these things on arrival, but some people are too posh to shop, and rather than cause a fuss, I always give them a few bits and pieces if they ask.

On handing the items over, the guest asked our linen porter where he was from, the conversation went like this.....


"Where do you come from"? (in his best Dublin brogue)

"Poland"

"When are you going back"?

"I don't know, I am getting married this year and we are settled here"

"Well YOU should go back NOW" (sneering into his face)

At which point he went back inside leaving all that were in earshot a bit upset.

It took me a while to establish what was actually said, my Penglish is getting better, but I needed to be sure before I did anything, I mean, was there some confusion, did he mean that the downturn in the economy was affecting the Polish workers to the point of making them return home, was he anti marriage, catching a glimpse of the dragon within, I thought this a possibility, or was he, as my zen inner voice told me, a fucking racist knob?

Never being one to jump to conclusions, especially as it involved a live, paying guest, I decided to pop down to have a chat with him, just to check everything was ok. I went with the intention of making sure that our guy hadn't got it wrong, that the guest was being misread, but by now too many people had told me that he had been racially abused.

She answered the door, dragonesque in stature and smell, making a mental note to wash the duvets after their departure, I asked for her husband. She shouted at him to come hither and promptly went back to her TV.

I put on my best 'speakingtocustomersyouthinkaretwats' voice, polished my badge, smiled...

"Hello Mr F, I am just calling to check everything is ok, you had a chat with one of my housekeepers earlier. Did you get everything you asked for, as there seems to have been a problem. can I ask you what you said to him?"

"I haven't got a problem, apart from not having enough toilet paper, and I didn't say anything to him"

He looked triumphant, he had made a sarcastic remark, whilst looking down aggressively, on a mere hotel employee, someone who will have to clean up after him....what a man. Instead of walking away and wishing him a comfortable stay, words came out of my mouth, words that are not in the 'exceeding the guests expectations' manual.

"Unfortunately I have a problem in that I have a very upset young man in my office, and I am trying to establish what he said to you, I want to ensure that my staff conduct themselves in a professional manner, and if something untoward has happened, then it is my responsibility to resolve the situation" blah blah....you get the picture?

I think it was at this point that he either couldn't understand what I was talking about or knew he had made racist comments, or his burger was getting cold and he wanted to get back to his fragrant blob, now sitting legs akimbo in front of 'Deal or no deal'...so he did what any self respecting neanderthal would do and launched himself into a no holds barred torrent of abuse.

It's amazing the different colours someones face can go when they're off on one, I think his best line was

"What the fuck do you care anyway, you're not from here either"...

...referring to the fact that I am English, two races in one hit! Clever as well as stupid.

Words, the words, not an argument exactly, but I'm afraid my mask slipped and my badge was less shiny than it had been a few minutes earlier.

I didn't sink to his level, but I wouldn't win any corporate 'employee of the month' prizes either!

The upshot was that he was going to 'have your job' and 'speak to your boss'and 'how dare you speak to me like that'

I took that as a signal to get back to work, so I decided to get everyone off home, and sort it out in the morning.

I came in next morning to a call from 'my boss' wanting to see me. 'Here we go' I thought, P45 for me.....what I actually got was a 'don't worry about it' and 'you're doing fine'

One day, someone will push that little bit too far, and I will have to go and work in a zoo or something, but until that day, I shall continue to serve my beloved Great Unwashed.