While I was on holiday, I got a message (which had been sent to all the managers in the company) asking if anyone was willing to help out at another rural pub, this time in the Scottish Borders. I sent a message back asking if there would be any accommodation available, then carried on with my holiday. Two days later I got an email from somebody at head office thanking me for agreeing to go to Scotland.
During my time with the cruises, being moved from ship to ship with little notice was commonplace. They often overstaffed anywhere with spare cabins and then moved people elsewhere as vacancies arose due to visa problems, medical situations, missed flights or just changes of mind. It made sense for the company but for the crew members who had packed for Alaska and then found themselves in Fiji it was less convenient.
At least this move gave me a few days of notice to pack and the move from Northern England to Southern Scotland was not such a culture shock. My line manager had agreed to drive me rather than take the risk of being stranded for hours at a train station nobody can find on a map. Plus, it was only for ten days… How bad could it be?
Well, the general manager was away. His assistant was new in the role and didn’t know I was arriving. The entire kitchen team had resigned at the same time and the whole place seemed to be staffed by people yelling in a wide variety of languages. It was like a really angry version of the UN.
I have written before about the wonders of temporary staff, well at this place everyone (including me) seemed to be a temp. Luckily, all the systems were the same so I could get into the computers and work the tills, unlike most of my colleagues who seemed barely capable to work out what shoe goes on what foot.
On my first night, I refunded one meal that contained a metal screw and a salad that came with a dead wasp. I dealt with a waiter who didn’t understand the difference between starters and main courses (“its all just food, whats the big deal”) and persuaded the bar tender that it was his job to clean the mould from the bar fridges.
My second day involved a major row in the kitchen involving a chef who refused to make desserts as he was too busy preparing his own dinner (for nearly an hour). I was asked to come and talk to him. He told me he wasn’t able to make desserts, even though customers were waiting, as he had fish on his hands. This caused more yelling in a variety of languages. Later I found out that the chef ate his dinner and then went home three hours early without telling anyone. All of this made for a very entertaining handover report (which I later found had been widely distributed around the company).
The following morning the general manager, who had been away, turned up unexpectedly. From the reactions of the team, it seemed like this was a rare event. I went over to introduce myself to him but he said he was too busy to chat, asked why I hadn’t tested the fire alarm and then left again.
Oh well, eight days to go. What else could happen?
To be continued…