10am – The Day Begins
I arrive at work at the posh hotel, we all get a piece of Christmas cake which it turns out was from the supermarket as the chef forgot and secret Santa begins.
I hate secret Santa. It seems to me that nobody gets anything they like, rather everyone gets mid-priced bath sets or socks. One year, I got a 6 pack of Coca-Cola.
My present arrived and I really tried to sound enthusiastic.
“Oh wow, a mince pie scented candle, thank-you Santa” I tried to say, while wondering if I should give that to somebody else or just leave it behind.
11:30am – Santa’s Christmas Lunch
This is one of the annual highlights at the posh hotel. A five-course meal featuring a visit from Father Christmas. The regular Santa was in isolation with Covid so we had a replacement, the brother of a bar tender who turned up with out his trousers so wore jeans instead.
We had 188 people booked in. Due to a series of ‘unfortunate incidents’ mostly connected to a super spreader event the previous week, when the staff of a luxury car manufacturer refused to wear masks at their party in the hotel, 64 of them caught covid (our fault, of course). This also meant we were down to five waiters (for 188 people). The guests had paid £65 per head.
Noon – The computer broke
This meant we were no longer able to access the pre orders. They had been printed out but nobody was quite sure where they were. We now had to take all the orders again. However, the new orders were in no way related to the number of dishes that had been prepared.
12:30pm – A numerical issue
Having the restaurant split into three sections, each with its own head waiter had meant that nobody knew what the other sections were doing. Two different table 44s went unnoticed until one large bill was produced though only having 158 chairs for the 188 people became apparent much earlier in proceedings.
I was dispatched to empty hotel bedrooms looking for 30 unoccupied chairs, many of them were on wheels and had arms too high to fit under the table, but still, it was better than standing.
1:30pm – Things were flying
Still nothing had come out of the kitchen, the orders were completely lost. Santa was on break and the only remaining bar tender (Santa’s brother) had gone home in a bad mood. Tension was building.
“Please can I ask why this is taking so long”
“Are you trying to mess this up on purpose”
The five waiters were getting stressed, three entire trays of food were dropped on the floor. To try and distract from this, I turned the music up a little louder, then inevitably somebody shouted
“This is the worst Christmas ever”
2pm – People started to leave
Santa was now serving behind the bar, having taken his hat off. We had run out of presents and the unfortunate food and beverage manager was giving out gift vouchers to all involved. Housekeepers, gardeners and maintenance people were all now running around with trays…
“Anyone want the salmon?”
“Where is table 26?”
“How do I get the till to work?”
Many of the customers showed themselves to the door.
3:30pm – a meeting was called
The hotel manager had come in on Christmas Day (a rare occasion) to address the chaos. The 188 people had been refunded their £65 along with the gift vouchers. To try and restore morale, the hotel manager brought in mince pies for the staff.
“Please try and understand, we didn’t mean for this to happen” he told us, followed by “does anyone know what happened to Santa’s trousers?”