My job as a breakfast room attendant in a mid-range hotel is going well. I don’t deal with too many clueless or entitled people, so I don’t have many interesting stories from my job to share. When I worked as a camp host and parking lot attendant and later as a clerk in the campground store, the can-you-believe-it stories rolled in faster than I could write the down. Honestly, I’m glad to have traded blog post fodder for a workplace with sparse drama.
Of course, there are little events to break the monotony of my workdays. People look frantically for the coffee, somehow missing the large pump containers marked “regular” and “decaf” on the counter right in front of them. Guests try to open the wrong side of the handleless refrigerator door. Folks ask for orange juice when we only have apple. I try to help them solve their breakfast problems without embarrassing them or making them feel bad. That door tricks someone every day, I joke to lighten the mood after telling a guest they need to pull on the other side of the aforementioned refrigerator door. I figure it’s early, and we’re probably all struggling.
The most puzzling situation I run into are the people who don’t push in their chairs when they leave the table. This doesn’t happen once a day; it happens several times a day. Is this a new phenomenon due to COVID? Folks must touch the chairs to pull them out. Why would they hesitate to push them back in after they’ve eaten? If the reason is laziness, these people have taken laziness to a whole new level. There doesn’t seem to be a particular age demographic refusing to push in the chairs. Young people, old people, middle age people, they all fail to push in their chairs. Pushing in the chairs is not a hardship for me, but having to do so leaves me asking why.
The most annoying guest are those who come in after the breakfast room is closed but still want to enjoy all the amenities. Breakfast is over at nine o’clock sharp. The moment the “The Drew Barrymore Show” pops up on the television, breakfast is OVER, and I’m hustling to put everything away and get everything cleaned up as quickly as possible so I can go home. Guests can linger in the breakfast room as long as they like, but they should get in by 8:59 if they want to find the toaster plugged in, the waffle iron on, eggs and sausages in the steam table, and cereal on the counter.
One morning a guest came into the breakfast room at 8:58. She puttered around making herself a plate. At 9am I started putting away things she wasn’t using. She must have seen me removing salt and pepper shakers from tables and turning off the waffle iron. Maybe she just didn’t notice. In any case, she finished making her plate and left the breakfast room.
A few minutes later (so probably at 9:05 or 9:07) she returned. In the time she was gone, I had dumped the uneaten eggs and sausages. When the guest came into the breakfast room, she made a beeline for the steam table. She lifted the lid and found the pan empty.
Ma’am, I’ve already gotten rid of the eggs and sausages, I told her.
She seemed perplexed. I bet she wondered how the eggs and sausages disappeared so quickly. What she didn’t know is that at clean up time, I’m quick!
(The next morning the same woman was in the breakfast room making her plate by 8:30.)
Latecomers throw off my cleaning schedule, but they make my life especially difficult if they want a last-minute waffle. If I turn off the waffle iron at 9am on the dot, it’s cooled enough for me to clean it after I’ve done all my other tasks. Twice I’ve burnt my arm while cleaning the waffle iron while it was still hot from after-9am waffle making.
People sometimes want to use the toaster after breakfast is officially over. This desire causes problems for me because as soon after 9am as possible I unplug the toaster and steam table. If a latecomer wants to use the toaster, I have to stop whatever I’m doing to plug in the toaster. (The toaster plug and electrical outlet are inside a cabinet, so I would have to stop my work to explain to guests where to find the plug and the outlet even if I didn’t feel responsible for plugging it in for them. Also, I have to stoop way down to get to the outlet, and we can’t ask the guests to get down on their hands and knees to plug in a toaster.)
(On a toaster tangent: Why, when cleaning the crumb trays, do I occasionally find globs of melted then resolidified butter stuck to them? Who butter their bread before toasting it? Is this a thing? Are toaster novices staying at the hotel? Are toasters made to handle buttered bread? I think not! I’m afraid butter in the toaster will someday start a grease fire.)
One day I’d cleaned the breakfast room and put everything away, pushed my cart to the storage area/dish room, washed all the pots and pans and utensils and serving trays I’d used to prepare and serve breakfast, and headed back to the breakfast room to sweep, mop, vacuum, and take out the trash. It was after 10am.
As I was pulling the broom out of the storage closet across from the breakfast room, I saw two guests walking down the hall. They were a young (mid 20s) couple, (ostensibly) a man and a woman. The woman had been in the breakfast room earlier; she’d made a plate and left. As the couple got closer, I saw the man was holding an everything bagel in his hand. One bite had been taken from it.
The two young people stopped at the door of the breakfast room and looked in. They then looked toward the reception desk and must have made eye contact with the manager standing there. As I was coming out of the storage room to ask if I could help them, the guy asked something about our toaster.
How can I help you? I asked. (At least I hope that’s what I asked. I hope my question didn’t come out more like What do you need?)
Is your toaster still out? he asked, gesturing to me with his bitten bagel.
I realized that from where he was standing and the way the toaster was positioned on the counter on the far side for the steam table, he couldn’t see it.
Breakfast ended at 9 o’clock, I told him. Everything is put away. (I figured the toaster being unplugged was as good as being put away.)
The young man looked disappointed, but I held firm. It wouldn’t have been bad if I’d only had to plug in the toaster, but I doubted it would have been as simple as that. He’d need to cut the bagel in half, so I’d have to get him a knife. He’d probably get crumbs all over the counter I’d already cleaned, and I’d have to clean it all over again. I wouldn’t be able to sweep until the entire operation was over because he would probably get crumbs and sesame seeds all over the floor. The whole situation would have really slowed me down.
Also? He wanted to put a bagel he (or someone) had chewed on into a community toaster! Gross! Germy! Yuck! At home? Sure, put your own germs into your own toaster. But in a community setting? Let’s keep our germs to ourselves.
So, no, I did not invite him into the breakfast room to toast his bitten bagel.
Honestly, the hardest part of my work day is getting myself out of bed at 4am. Also difficult? Going to bed at 8pm on the evenings when I’m not totally exhausted and ready to sleep the afternoon and evening and night away. But overall, I don’t mind the job too much. Somebody’s got to feed the people.
In related news, I took the 60 minutes food handlers course for my state and passed the test with a 97%. Apparently, I’m still good at taking tests.