Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hard work

Its amazing how little time I spend online, now that I am working my ass off. I am loving my job abd working really hard and spending almost no time online, my friends think I have deserted them, my housemates think I am partying till the early hours, and my blog is looking woefully neglected.

However, I now have internet at home! Finally a first world comfort! Bizzarely, I had better access in Sudan. Crazy though that is.

Now I just need my own laptop/pc. Currently I am on a housemates one, and the keyboard is German, so trying to find the letters is frustrating. This is just a quick note though, to say a couple of things.
1. I DO have every intention of writing a proper post soon
2. I didnt REALLY put the phone down on that woman. I actually managed to control myself enough to say goodbye (sweetly.. you know that voice? The type you use to speak to a person you arent sure will understand you..ever?), and put down the phone (rather firmly I´ll admit) and went and had a cigarrette.

In other news, The Magnificnet Long Distance Boyfriend arrives on 27th June. Go ahead. Count.... yup, thats 38 days from today. I try not to count but I mentioned it at work, and now all the waiters say things like:

God, man, only 38 days till she gets laid. Maybe then she´ll get off our backs.

OR.. the simpler version.

Morning Sarah! 38 days! *wink*

Its getting painful. Anyway, more updates soon. Any person that counts down days to me may be subject to a violent reaction...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I found the new crazies!

You know, I always thought that it was just the nature of the jobs I had that I work so hard and such long hours. I realise now that maybe it why I chose them..
Anywhoo, thats my excuse for no posts in ages. Life has been hectic, settling back into my routine, getting to know my friends again, finding places to live. (I currenlty live with Uncle Nazi. He starts sentences with 'now, you KNOW how tolerant I am.. BUT... and goes on to explain 500 reasons why he isnt. Its a temporary measure. Own place to follow soon)

I do, however, have a new job. Which I absolutely love. I am the Guest Relations and Training Officer for a gorgeous pair of restuarants in Cape Town. Despite the massive dip in restaurant sales, and tourism, our restaurants are booming. We walk around and the restaurants around us have more empty tables than full, and we have a waiting list as long as my arm. Its wonderful.


However, one of my roles is Events Coordinator. This means that every group of over 30 that comes through our door, I have to look after. Everything from set menus to corporate functions, to special dietary requirements, to tables for bodygaurds. Thats me. It can be fun, it can be stressful, and every now and then I have a desire to shoot people in the head. Must be a hangover from Sudan.

To give you an idea of the people I deal with, I shall relate a story. I havent exaggerated in any way. I promise.

A woman I shall call Sue contacted me for an Event. The group is a a bunch (35) of businessmen in the booze industry being entertained by a local brewery.
No problem, we can turn on the style and make it a great corporate event. I send her all our set menus to choose from, as well as a form to fill in for any dietary requirement. I get all the info back except the dietary info. No problem. I hounded her for a few days, and finally, the day before the event, she sent me the form. On it are two Kosher people. *blink*

I called her immediately and asked her how Kosher these two are. "Are they the sort that say steak with creamy muchroom sauce, but hold the bacon... or are they the separately packed, signed and sealed sort?" I asked apprehensively.

"Not sure", says Sue, "I will get back to you."

About two hours later she called me back
"Yup, fully Kosher"

"Um.. Sue, you know we arent a Kosher restaurant, right?" I asked.

"Well, what do you mean?"

(Has the woman never MET a Jewish person??? This is Cape Town for heavans sake!)

"Well, we serve meat and milk, we serve crustaceons, and we serve pork.. ALL of which are completely outlawed for Kosher food," I explain.

"Oh". She sounded dismayed, as if she had had no idea we might not be able to cater. "Well, cant you do something for them, like prepare just a kosher meal for them?"

I stifled a scream of frustration, and managed to explain that no, we cant prepare kosher food, because we dont have a kosher kitchen. This woman knew so little about the requirements of people with special diets, it kinda amazed me she was functioning as a tour leader.

I called around, and managed to find a local Kosher deli that would not only prepare and deliver a sealed Kosher meal, but would also match the food as closely as possible to the set menu planned for the night. It was getting on to 4pm in the afternoon when I called her to tell her that all was confirmed and that I had managed to arrange some Kosher meals for the clients.

"Oh one last thing," she says as I close up the conversation. "I just found out that one of the guys is celebrating his birthday. Can you make a cake for him?"

3 long deep breaths.

'We dont omake cakes here, and thats a large order, cake for 35 people.... but you are welcome to bring one with you."

"No that just wont do. can you outsource one for us?"

*sigh* "yes, Sue, let me see what I can do"

I rushed around, found a bakery that was willing to take the order so late in the day and managed to get in the order just before they closed for business at 5pm. I called Sue back and told her the cake would be ready when they arrived, told her the exorbitant cost, and she just accepted it, then said "Hey, can you ask them to make it Kosher?"

Grinding my teeth together I told her no. I told her that the Kosher people would have to go without cake. Then I told her that I had another call coming through, and to have a nice day, and put down the phone.

I stood in the restaurant for a few minutes, and breathed. Just that. Breathed.

The next day the event group was due to arrive at 6.30pm after a sunset cruise round the bay. No people at 7pm. No one at 8pm.

Finally they arrived at 8.30pm, drunk as lords. No problem, I can handle this. got them all seated, fuond the contact person, aske dher where the Kosher people sitting so I could tell the waiter.

No idea she says. Ask around. I finaly found the names from my list, approached the customers, and endured their drunk and scornful laughter as they cracked up at the very thought that they might require a kosher meal. Apparently, no one at the table had requested Kosher. they had mentioned they were Jewish. Thats about it.

Next I went to the contact person again and asked who the birthday boy was so we could bring the cake out at the appropriate time. "Oh hes not here" she slurred. "dont worry, we will take it with us and have it at the lunch at the brewery tomorrow."

I sighed and walked away, banged my head against the wall a few times, and left. The waiters could handle the rest.

I arrived at work the next day, and at about 12 noon, I recieved a phone call from Sue. I had just finished reading the manager handover report from the night before. 'Group was riotous and had to be repeatedly asked to be quiet, for disturbing other customers. Group was rude to the hostesses, claled them cheap escorts to lure in the rich men. group make a speach mid way through dinner service. Customers asked to be moved away from the group... etc'

"Hi Sarah. Thanks so much for the function. They all had a wonderful time, food was great, very happy customers. Thanks for getting the cake too. By the way, the customers forgot to take it with them. Just deliver it to the brewery for them. they will need it in about an hour. Thanks."

'Uh, Sue, we are a restaurant, we dont do deliveries"

"Oh I am sure you can find a way to have it delivered, cant you?"

"No..... I cant," and put down the phone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back





I am back from my travels again, this time in the wonderful company of my delicious man in the beauty of my own amazing country.
Plans go ahead, house has been moved into, and man to follow soon. New interviews appointments for permanent jobs made, and much in between.

Its all a little crazy right now. More to follow when the appropriate internet connection allows. Updates soon, I promise....

(Internet cafes are not conducive to effective photo uploading)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oh to be paid to be beautiful

This is the night of the 3rd. New years has passed, the madness is over, but half of Johannesburg is still in Cape Town, as are half the celebrities.

I started my evening with a fairly standard section. One table that seats 14 people and two 2 seater tables. This is a pretty good section actually, right up until you realise that at 9pm the 14 seater is leaving, an extra table is being added and 20 people are being seated there.

I try desperately to get the early seating to bugger off, they know they only have a limited amount of time, as they only booked that afternoon. They are still slow to leave. Finally I get them off the table, and the booking arrives. I havent yet got enough glasses on the table, but the manager seats them anyway. They are clearly middle eastern. The host of the table turns to look at me, an expression of obvious disdain on his face.

'This.... (he waves at the table) ... is not good enough. The service is rediculous. The Sheikh is going to be at this table!' He then turns to the trainee (male) that I have shadowing me for the evening, and says to him, 'sort this out'.

Another waitress comes over to me with a look of horror on her face. 'You serving 'The Bastard'? Oh dear. Ok, hun, this is what you do. You smile, accept the crap. I will have a gin and tonic, double, in the back area for you to sip on, and just grin and bear it. He is an absolute C**T but he tips.'

With this information in mind, I sip my G&T and return to the fray. As I am hurriedly placing glasses on the table a dark skinned Arab man arrives with a bevy of beautiful women on his arm. 3 are Russian, 2 local, and as they sit down The Bastard answers the phone.

"Yes, they have arrived..... Yes, I am happy, they are very beautiful... of course, I will let you know if there are any problems..." he says, looking the women over one by one as they sit down and sharing a wink with the man, whom we now know to be the Sheikh.

With this transaction completed, he starts giving me wine orders, which I rush to collect. As I speed back into the restaurant, a man touches my arm, and very politely asks me if I can give him some directions, holding out a piece of paper with a street name on it. I start to explain where it is as rapidly as possible, knowing that The Bastard will be tapping his feet imperiously, but as I look up I realise that the man I am talking to is Richard Branson. Against every anti-celebrity bone in my body, I start to blush. Luckily I am able to keep talking as if nothing has changed, and manage to keep going with the directions. He thanks me, then pauses and asks me the inevitable question.

"So what is an English girl doing working in a restaurant in Cape Town?"

I explain that I am indeed South African, and that I just have a habit of picking up accents where I live, having just returned from the UK. And then apologise and tell him that I am sorry to cut him short, but that I am in the middle of a wine order. He rapidly apologises for keeping me, and I run on to deliver the wine.

As soon as the wine is delivered, I go back to the service area and have another sip on my G&T at which point the other waitress comes in and looks at me, and we both simultaneously have a girly moment including holding each others arms and bouncing up and down squeeling 'Richard Branson was here!' I am not a celebrity follower. I am not even that impressed by famous people, but for some reason Richard Branson tickles the heart of almost any woman. The richest good looking man out there. Its definitely worth noticing...

Anyway, the evening continues much as before, tables get served, my two seater tables keep asking me for gossipy updates on the going ons of The Bastards table, and the Bastard continues to live up to his nick name. I grit my teeth and continue, thinking of the money to get me through.

Finally the end of their meal approaches, the bill is asked for, but as I walk outside with it one of the other members of the party intercepts me, and says he would like to pay the bill himself.

'Has service been added?' he asks me.
'Yes, 10% service sir," I reply. Normally at this point very rich people add on another 5/10%.
'Thats fine', he says, and waits for me to put the black American Express through on the machine. Damn Damn damn fuck and damn. The Bastard #2.

I did, however, see him slip a few R200 notes into the hands of one of the 'ladies' for hire. I think I may be in the wrong industry. All she did was sit there and look sultry.

I can do sultry...

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Madness

I always work new years. Its one of those things. I figure, why go out and spend loads of money on a night that essentially means nothing, when I can work and earn money instead?
I really wish I hadnt worked last night. Although, if I hadnt, I couldnt have laughed about it today.

I worked a double shift. This means that I started work at 10am, and fully expected to only be finished work at 4am. It didnt quite turn out that way but I was expecting a long and draining day. I was also determined to make it as fun and stress free as possible. However, I forgot the most important part. This is my life. When is it ever dull?

The day shift passed with no major stress. Half of the country is in Cape Town right now so finding parking near the beach was frigheningly hard, but I managed ok. Customers were great, mostly tourists. I made some decent cash and was looking forward to the evening shift. Me and another waitress (the only other lone female staff member) took our break at the same time and decided (maybe not wisely) that a pre-madness cocktail was a good idea. We headed back to work at about 6pm, and helped finish setting up, admittedly slightly drunkenly. The official new years eve bookings only started at 9pm so the place had quite a few people standing around having cocktails (I would like to mention at this point that the weather was GORGEOUS!) when a policeman came in and asked to check our liquor licence. Instantly all the staff vanished, and all the managers suddenly decided for the first time that they would acknowledge the fact that the head chef is the senior member of management. Why? Because every one of us knows that the liquor licence doesnt exist.

I wasnt actually supposed to know, but as a personal licence holder (the only way you can sell alcohol in the UK is to have a licence holder on the property), I make a habit of checking licences. The licence on display in our restaurant is for another branch of the company, in another city.

Instantly all alcohol sales had to stop. All the customers were told that the bar was closed, and all the staff informed that on this New Years eve, in the middle of summer, the hottest spot in Cape Town, which is booked to overflowing, could not sell alcohol.

The staff greeted this information with hilarity. Right up to the point that the policeman walked out the front door and the manager ran around telling us all that we were basically going to continue ignoring the law. Now, I should really have walked out, if I was a nice law abiding citizen. On the other hand, new years eve money is not to be sniffed at, and frankly, I am not the most law abiding of citizens. Screw it, I was gonna work anyway. The interesting point here is that it IS legal to give alcohol away. So naturally, us staff just taking the drinks we wanted for the evening was essentially the most legal thing we did all night. Right?

The evening progressed with the usual madness and insatiny, swearing and barely restrained punches, right up until my 24 seater table asked to pay. Individually. I nearly screamed at all of them, but managed to restrain myself, as they were obligingly paying before they started dancing and getting down to some really serious illegal drinking.

In a suprisingly short space of time, the restaurant empied and the duties were done. It was time to leave and only 2am. I headed over to a friends place, where stragglers were still drinking by the fire outside, and talking rubbish amongst themselves, had a drink, and headed home. Except that as I walked outside I discovered that my car had been broken into, the window smashed, and the bag which contained my nicest dress, and my brand new shoes (which I had packed in the event that I was let off work early) had been stolen. Also in the bag had been a Christian Dior bag, full of Dior makeup that a regular customer had given me. The fact that she gave it to me was more important to me than the fact that it was Dior. And now its gone.

Happy fucking New Year.

I was pretty bleak about the whole thing. I have calmed now, and the events of last night were suffiently amusing that I have moved on. I shall relate them to you in due course. They include rich Sheiks, high class prostitutes, and Richard Branson. Stay tuned.