The tale of the can.

One night in a busy pub far far away there was a man who clearly had no cares for the standard of his work and far too much ego to burn. Now this man he was very funny, and a joy to work with, but how badly he treated customers was evident early on. Now he was a larrikin this man, and fun to joke with, he would greet you with a smile, but annoy him, or increase his workload and you would soon  be feeling his juvenile wrath.

So on this fateful busy night there was a girl, lets call her Thelma and her friend, lets call her Louise. Now Thelma and Louise were out at the pub getting particularly white girl wasted when they came up to me at the bar and ordered two schooners of Carlton, a particularly cheap beer at our establishment. I served them their beer and went to take their money.

Me: “That’ll be $5.50 thanks!”

Thelma:”Aw but it was $5.00 last time.”

Me: “Nope, it’s been $5.50 all night hon.”

With the awkward money exchange taken care of Thelma waits for Louise to fish the coins out of her purse to offer up to our capitalist gods, and while she waits she decides to finger the froth out of her beer on to the bar top. A motion not missed by our Larry larrikin bartender.

Larry turns to Thelma and orders her (in a laughing but serious tone) to clean up her mess as this is apparently the fourth time she has frothed on the bar. He hands her the cloth to which she stares at him shocked. Good old Louise pipes up indignant at this stage in defence of her friend exclaiming that she did nothing wrong and that this treatment is ridiculous, I stand back amused.

Poor Thelma embarrassed wipes up her mess and stands next to her clearly annoyed friend as she continues to fish coins from her purse. What feels like an eternity later Louise finally hands me the cash and continues to berate Larry. I return to Louise with the change and as she places it in her purse she accidentally spills her beer. Ho-ho what a chance to extract revenge on Larry.

Louise: “Oh no, I’m so sorry, I accidentally spilled my beer on the bar may I please borrow the cloth so I can clean up my mistake.” (Or some drunken version of this script.)

Silly Larry hands the girls the cloth, she wipes up her mess then pegs it right back at his face, and man do I snigger, you go girl! Larry turns to me shocked and I give him my best OMG what a cow face before quickly averting my gaze and busying myself in the spirit well. Larry takes himself off to the dance floor.

Some 10 minutes later Larry comes laughing into the bar….

Larry: “I regret that (hahahaha) I really regret that…”

Me: “What did you do?”

Larry: “I was on the dance floor cleaning and that drunk chick was right next to me so I threw an empty can at her (hahahaha)!”

Me: ………

Now this exchange is pretty bad, but wait, there’s more!

…….. 20 minutes later……

Thelma and Louise approach the bar, I am busy serving so they have to order from Larry, I keep my head down trying to eavesdrop while still being external to the drama.

Louise (clearly the dominant friend): “Can we just have two glasses of water?”

Larry: “No.”

I am shocked, it is literally illegal not to serve a patron water… I quickly look up…. Thelma and Louise are horrified. Larry walks off. The girls turn to me, yes, I am still serving someone else.

Thelma and Louise in chorus: “Can YOU please get us some water?”

Me:”Sure girls, just let me finish these drinks up here, I wouldn’t let you not have water.” (Glare at Larry)

Larry ambles to me and whispers in my general direction… “I’m scared they’ll throw it at me.”

All I can pray is that they do, my goodness what justice, many laughs… I pour them their drinks, they scowl at Larry, but no drinks are thrown (disappointing). The girls slink into the darkness of the dance floor and are never seen again. Larry jokingly berates me for not having his back. I leave my shift equal parts horrified and bemused.

 

THE END

 

Instalment One: city hospitality

So I have worked in and out of hospitality since I was a little girl. My mum was a waitress, come bartender, come manageress, and my father is a master pastry chef. We have worked in small towns, coastal oasis’, and bustling cities. But one thing I have noticed is that the hospitality industry is losing its hospitality.

I meet ‘career hospitality’ members who don’t know the answer to  – “how do you greet a customer” or, “how do you deal with complaints?” The new generation seems to be hell bent on fancy spaces, and cool décor rather than customer relations and atmosphere. Everyone seems to think they can open their own restaurant and do it better than the guy before them, unfortunately though, doing better than rubbish isn’t much of a goal.

I am sitting down over the next few weeks to share with you some stories that make me really see the lack of care, attention, and most importantly hospitality in the hospitality industry. Some of these stories have happened to me, some I have merely observed or been told. These are not complaints, they are observations, these are not necessarily new tales, I have had my eye out for many years. So sit back, cringe, laugh, cry, and enjoy.

Instalment one:

The city, a bubbling cosmopolitan, a mixing pot of colour, life, and enjoyment. You only have to stroll down one street to meander past a varying array of pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants. While this adds choice and variety to the consumers, it adds uncertainty and increased pressure to those who man the bars, and run the food.

In the past few years of living in the city I have noticed unlawful practices left right and centre, mismanagement and inappropriate conduct from staff that goes unchecked purely out of fear. Because, why would you correct someone when there are 100 more people ready to take your place? The employers know this, and it seems in a city they take full advantage of it.

I have worked eight hour shifts without so much as a five minute break, I have been called a bitch, a cunt, incompetent and stupid for things I haven’t even done, I have had rosters that ignore my university timetabling which was a promised factor in structure, and all the while I keep quiet because I need the money and the market is so competitive. These things would never happen in the smaller towns, the coastal oasis’ but we deal.

I have watched girls hit on, grabbed at, forced to pay for transaction mistakes and tips not shared out when they are promised. I have watched men forced to do all the heavy lifting, jobs not anywhere close to their actual job descriptions. I have noticed rostering that doesn’t allow for the legal break between days… the list goes on.

However, despite the crappy conditions that workers endure in the hospitality cityscape they sit and deal because at the end of the day it pays the bills. And sit and deal is literally all they can do at one particular job. I have observed a place who takes full advantage of the employee pool by fully leaning on their staff regularly. This establishment is busy predominantly on nights where there are events nearby, on these nights pretty much all employees are rostered on, but if you arrive at your rostered time and its not yet busy? You better believe you will sit outside not clocked in, not getting paid, just waiting, waiting, and waiting, and you say peep? You better believe they’ll probably replace you, so you waste your night, on illegal hold. Yes the work is fun, and yes it pays the bills, but should workers really have to endure such wasted unpaid time just because they’re deemed replaceable?