Hospitality industry may be glitz and glamour to the outside world, but it certainly is one of the hardest and frustrating places to work. Whether you are a receptionist, bell boy, waiter, barman, housekeeper or chef, guests often utter the most annoying stuff ever heard in a civilised work environment.
“This beef is so tough! Was the bull slaughtered during independence?” utters one insensitive diner but just when half-way done with the juicy steak, perhaps looking for excuse not to pay! And then the troublesome customer continues: “No wonder the restaurant is empty because no one can come here for this miserable meal.”
The hapless waitress trembles on the spot, speechless. But she can never dare utter a word because she was taught at a culinary school that a guest is always right. She hardly knows what to make of this outburst at that moment.
From asking for meat in a side dish yet the guest had initially indicated that he’s a vegetarian, to a mother changing diapers at the dinner table to a mean mzungu rolling a Sh50 bob note and hiding it in a straw, these catalogue of behaviour make hotel staff cringe in anger.
Have you ever wondered why waiters deliberately serve a guest who has just arrived after you and intentionally delay your food? Now you know! It’s to teach you a lesson to be polite and courteous next time!
Remember that night you raved and ranted at a waiter about the size of the serving plate at the buffet as if you were denied a chance for a second and third helping? Be patient, it will bite back. Hotel staff note these annoying habits.
You sure do not want to eavesdrop on the horrendous but justifiable stuff they say about you as they hurriedly and carelessly fix your tasteless meal. However, their jobs are nerve-wrecking and often thankless and traumatic.
As if getting customers’ orders right and carting away a mountain of plates expertly without breaking any is not a tall order by itself, there is a litany of problems that come with it. A staff is supposed to wear a permanently infectious smile regardless of personal issues at the moment, wink, meet and greet even the coldest of guests.
Going home weary and hungry at the wee hours with gravy down your white blouse, tomato paste stain on your hair and grease on your chin is fairly common. And that’s on top of being relentlessly harassed by marauding sex pests in the name of clients who keep demanding for your mobile number pretending to want it so that they may order a birthday cake at a later date.
“You must have a king-sized heart to forgive and forget and not manslaughter, assault or sue a guest who behaves such inappropriately,” confesses a waitress who recently resigned from a five-star hotel when she could no longer tolerate sex-hungry clients who spank them every round they serve.
More so, waiters are blamed for incidents that are in the remotest chance their own. A recent case: A waiter takes sizzling grilled chicken on a very hot platter to a table and she is holding its brim using a cloth. “Careful please, the sizzler is damn hot,” she loudly warns.
But guess what? The the guest goes ahead to stupidly touch the sizzler! That is when hell erupts on the horrified waiter and hotel management as the infuriated guest blames the hotel for “severe fingers injury” while threatening to sue unless the manager offers the meal on complementary! Then there are guests whose mission is to see a waiter in despair.
How else do you explain this: A waiter is precariously carrying loads of hot plates and spilling beverage while manipulating her way to your table. “Salmon fish and French Fries?” Silence. “Who is having goat spare ribs with mashed potatoes?” Blank stares.
“Freshly-squeezed avocado juice with dash of carrots juice?” Mum across the table as guests ignore her. In that case, the waiter infuriatedly dumps the orders on the table and lets the clueless guests sort their orders! Then there is a breed of guest every hotel staff dreads.
He’s called “the last man sitting!” It is clocking midnight. The kitchen is closing, the tills are shut and all the tables are relapsed ready for tomorrow. But there is one lone diner at the table who is never in a hurry!
When the push comes to shove, the adamant guest is regrettably ejected from the premises by security. Often, the dozen or so “Have a good night Sir and thank you for patronising our hotel” by a tired waiter fall on deaf ears.