A funny thing happened on the way to a serious post …


We get a few strange requests in my hotel job and sometimes, the staff make it even stranger.

For instance, we are always very clear on room numbers, for obvious reasons, normally repeating them to the caller before doing anything. We also do not do maintenance (even when called out) on a room that has a “do not disturb” notice on it. So it is very unusual for anyone to get room numbers wrong.

My workmate with the “number 2 with a funny bit on top” hairstyle came steaming down the stairs the other day.  Reception had called us up on an urgent job to fix a fridge.

The process is that all calls must be logged.  If this does not happen (a) we get pushed from pillar to post as reception mainlines the phone with everything from a contractor has arrived, through to a blown lightbulb to more urgent things such as cisterns overflowing and (b) we don’t get a record of what we have done and when.

Occasionally though, they (and we) make exceptions.  Fridges in rooms bizarrely (or not) most used to store medication.  So one going down is usually an urgent call and this was super urgent.

N2WAFBOT arrived breathless into the workshop.  He swore for a bit and then said “I got an urgent call for a fridge”. “Yes, and?” went the response.  “Well, I ran upstairs like shot, went into the room and tried to fix it but I just couldn’t.  So I called reception and told them I could not.”  Having gained our interest, (mainly because there is very little he cannot fix), he paused.  We of course asked why.

“Why?” he bellowed. “WHY? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ^*&(* &hhfdrs &(*&* (&£££$$N FRIDGE IN THE ROOM!”  He had checked the number twice, as had reception.

On our noticeboard is a list of “things we can’t do” which includes: raising the dead, feeding the 5,000, guaranteeing attendance within one hour on site of contractors who have to travel more than 5 miles to get to us.  It now includes fixing non-existent fridges.

We also deal with requests to “fix the broked thing” which leads us to search up and down for something in the room that needs fixing; and I got called the other day to go to a room urgently where it was “too cold”.  Such sorting involved turning the aircon down.  The second call I took of the same nature, I asked whether the guest had tried turning the aircon down and hey presto –problem solved!

Then of course, the other day, there was a fire near to the hotel. A major, all rooting, all tooting out of control blaze.  In a warehouse full of slow burning combustibles. With exploding canisters.  As well as making life hell for those of us attempting to get to work, it led to a guest complaining bitterly.

There is not a lot one can do about smoke. Like air, it tends to sneak in.  We did all we could, including making sure air intake units came in from the non-smoky side, that all exit doors stayed shut, etc., etc. However, we were close enough to have fire-fighting foam land on us as we stood outside.

The complaint was along the lines of “why didn’t you put the fire out and spare us the smell of smoke- disgraceful!!!”  It is probably a good idea that I am not in charge of responding to complaints because I think I would have been tempted to tell them to Foxtrot Oscar.  I did wonder if there was a market for “smokecoats” for hotels, a kind of humungous plastic sheet one could put over a building to shield it from whiffs.

We work hard but we also have a great deal of fun.  Last week, Bossman decided it was Pick On TF day and I was subjected to rounds of abuse, in which I gave (almost) as good as I got.  The main gist of it is that I apparently “lost” an important document. After nearly a whole day of searching, he found it in his own notebook.  Of course, I was then accused of hiding it there on purpose.

His favourite trick when I am on the phone is to talk to me at the same time.  Depending on who is it, he either yells “hello” and has a conversation with the person at the same time they are trying to talk to me or, if it is someone who he does not like, yells various abuse at them from across the room so that I can hear him and all they can hear is background noise.  The latter makes me laugh my head off (difficult to deal with on an important call), the former drives me up the wall.

He also knows he annoys me senseless when he sits on his chair in the workshop and asks me things. I can’t hear him properly when I am at the desk, so have to continually get up and down.  After doing this a few times, he then pretends to ignore me when I come out and yell “what???”  We go through this at least twice a week and this week I got up for what felt like the 50th time to find him sitting on the chair on his mobile.  So I bounced up and down on his knee to get his attention and then yelled “You called.  What do you want?” He hasn’t done it again.  Yet :-).

He also explained something really simple the other day, as if talking to an idiot.  I said “right mate, I have been here long enough to know what that is, don’t treat me like a simpleton”. “Okay” he said, “sorry”.

I should have known that I was going to get my comeuppance.  A few days later, he asked me something very technical and I had to ask him for more details. He was on his way out of the workshop but said over his shoulder “But … I thought you were here long enough to know that?!!” I had in my hand at the time a chunky catalogue.  He didn’t get out of the door fast enough and I managed a direct shot to the back of his neck.

I guess there are not many bosses who irk their staff as much as he irks me but it is hilarious and he takes it on the chin (or the neck) when I get him back.

The hotel is very keen on customer service (as all hotels should be) and there is a facility for certain staff to make decisions about giving customers freebies when things go wrong, all of which is noted and reported.  I was very amused to see the following today: Customer X complained so he was given a bucket of bear.  Truly??

I wanted to ask where we had found a bucket big enough but thought better of it…

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About titflasher

Writer, blogger, animal activist, people activist, dream-catcher maker, mommy to 9 cats and a roving band of foxes ... Blog name comes from my father's suggestion for the title of my autobiography ... after my mother's and my awful habit of flashing whenever the security police took our photo in the dark old days of apartheid South Africa. I love nature, including creepy crawlies and people, find life fascinating and frustrating and have two terrible weaknesses - nictotine and animals in distress ... can't abide the latter situation and can't give up the former. I'm Pagan but not anti-Christian, funny but quite serious, light-hearted but can be annoying. I am warm-hearted until someone p*sses on me too much, then I get soggy and even. Feel free to link me but all the words on these pages is copyrighted, so copy it and take the credit and I will find you and slap you upside the head, hard. The blog is probably best read via category as there is loads on here already, and I just got started :-)
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6 Responses to A funny thing happened on the way to a serious post …

  1. Phil Groom says:

    Love it — great to see your sense of humour is still intact 🙂

  2. titflasher says:

    Thanks Phil – I think it is still hanging about 🙂

  3. Paula Ann Walker says:

    I really enjoyed having a giggle at this, it was also interesting to get a glimpse of behind the scenes at a hotel, ’cause I like staying in hotels. 🙂 I’m still perplexed though – a bucket of beer even?

  4. Paula Panda says:

    Ha ha! reminded me of Fawlty Towers xxx What fun!

  5. titflasher says:

    Hi Paula
    Yes I think (hope!) it was a bucket of beer (and perhaps one with cans in rather than the beer just poured in) rather than the furry variety. The team I work with are probably the most motivated (although under-resourced and under-paid) people I have ever seen and we do have a huge laugh. This is due a lot to my boss, who can be a p in the a but is always, eternally funny. He should actually be doing stand-up comedy!

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