New job..... should it be so full of surprises?


(Zoe Buckley) #1

So, my new post is a bit odd. It's mostly the elderly mother of the directors, she thinks she's in her living room, and the guests are her friends and the staff are her kids. She goes through the bins to see if we threw out anything she can re-use. Doileys, drink stirrers, cocktail sticks and so on.


Then there's the way they don't trust the staff at all, EVERYTHING is rationed. The coffee for breakfasts is made down to the precise number of cups they'll be pouring. If someone asks for a top up, we have to go and get the granny to make more, because the waiters don't have the right to make coffee. The bread, it comes from a bag the granny drops off, and there is never more than one baguette in the bag at a time. When she sees that the bread is getting low, she disappears off into the corridors and comes back with another baguette. Glasses of wine are poured in the bar, by a director, because they're scared that if we pour the wine at the table, we'll pour too much. At the end of the meal, if someone wants a coffee, or a tea, I have to go and find a director, even though I am the restaurant manager, because they don't let the "staff" behind the bar. I spent half an hour the other night looking for a bin bag, because yes, they're also counted and rationed. I always say that the bin must be emptied at the end of every service. The granny reckons it should only be emptied when it's overflowing. She gave out to me for emptying the bin tuesday night.


Then there's the dogs. Three labradors that are constantly under our feet. Even in the kitchen. In fact, the dogs have dinner in the kitchen during the service at night. Their food is kept in the kitchen. In the lobby, the lounges and the carpeted areas, there is dog hair matted everywhere.


I said all this to the actual boss, the daughter of the granny, and how they took me on and told me to help them, to improve things, to make changes, yet I can't, because her mother is set in her ways and "ah, it's always been like that" for everything. I took on this role thinking "wow, this is me, this is what I am good at, walking in, identifying problems, and solving them." For once, I thought, I'll not just have the responsibility, but also the authority to make changes, improve the level of service, really get into it. Up until now, I have found myself in postitions where it's not a maitre d'hotel that's needed, but a whipping boy. Having to assume responsibility when things go wrong, but never actually having the power to change things. It turns out, this hotel is no different. Until the elderly lady steps back out of the role of restaurant manager...... there is no place for me in the hotel.


I now have to decide if I can let go of some of the hiccups.The rummaging through the bins, the dogs in the kitchen, the constant harassment about how the service is not good enough, despite the fact that I have only ONE staff member to manage (and was told I would have 5).Two people. For dinner service, there needs to be two of us on duty.... do the maths and see how easy it was for rostering this week. I might be able to let that go. The lack of confidence in staff, I might get over that.... trying to economise, fair enough, but to what degree. I cannot, however, get over re-using napkins, doileys.


I will never be able to "just let slide" the fact that there are three dogs wandering around the back areas of the hotel. I will never settle for emptying the bin every three days, and using the same sponge to wipe the tables as they use to wipe the dog's bowl. Where do I go from here?


(Jan Wallace) #2

Time to look for another position, make sure you have one before you go and make sure you tell to their faces why you are leaving and don(t forget to call the Health dept once you've gone.


(Zoe Buckley) #3

Twice I have written lengthy responses, but only the first handful of words show up.... In short, they are just making me feel unwelcome without actually talking to me about it.


(Zoe Buckley) #4

I think we might have m


(Jane Williamson) #5

Zoe if this affecting your health, there is no alternative but to say goodbye.


(Elizabeth mearns) #6

Having diabetes and suffering feet puts another perspective on this tale.
You’d probably better quit, for health reasons.
Shame really. I love your stories.
Keep us up to date I. Meanwhile and good luck


(Zoe Buckley) #7

I have laid out for them in writing that I CAN stay, but only under two conditions... I am still waiting for them to reply. If I am blocked once more, I already have my lettre de demission in an envelope in my locker, waiting for the moment I need to just hand it in.


(Zoe Buckley) #8

I have said to them that if I am to stay, it is under two conditions... that I run the restaurant from A to Z without interference from the family, placing people, giving menus and chatting is fine, but telling me how to run the place is out, and secondly, I need to be able to buy. Oh, those vases I had ordered (through the chef)..... well they somehow got cancelled, and I also asked for proper sponges, sweeping brushed and real mop (rag in a bucket is how we clean floors here), everything was "not really a priority", and I was given an old sponge that I think mamie might have been using to wash her car.

They keep telling me that it's all about "rodage", and "getting used to each other", but a month down the line, I am seeing the politics here, and thinking that on top of buying a new property, moving both house and shed, taking on a building project, and having discovered that my diabetes has started to act up on my toes, I am just not sure that starring in my own little "hotels from hell" is something I have time for.

If everything was going smoothly, yes, running a restaurant is quite easy when you have systems in place and the right people to implement changes/rules, but when it's anarchy in it's lowest possible form, it is just too stressful and time consuming. I take three steps forward, take a day off, and everything is back to square one.


(Jane Williamson) #9

I think that you have been hired under false pretences Zoe. The problem is the old lady and no one is going to be allowed to tackle it, least of all you.
Family problems need to be sorted out by the family.
Cut your losses and leave them to it.


(Jan Wallace) #10

Seriously it's time to knock this job on the head, if you are not happy with practices that you know are contrary to health and hygiene regs and the owners are not willing to rectify them for fear of upsetting Granny then you have no choice. As Manager you are the fall guy, and when the inspectors finally come down on them it's you who will bear the brunt of the criticisms. It will do your reputation no good to be labelled an incompetant Manager, it's time to start looking for another job.


(Zoe Buckley) #11

I am starting to wonder if I am actually living this, or if it's just a dream, and I'll wake up working in a REAL hotel.

Comedy from last night and today includes flashbacks of mamie rummaging in the bin, grumbling about how someone threw leftovers AND a doiley that could have been reused in it, her telling me that I'll break everything, and me responding that "of course the staff are clumsy, they are really not at ease, myself included, we are under constant surveillance, and being continously harassed, it's only normal we are all shaky".
The dogs, pulling yoghurt cartons out of the bins and smathering yoghurt around the floor with them, then licking the floor (in the still room-office area)

The waiter thaat seems " a bit touched" having a nervous giggle attack, and laughing out loud while pouring wine for a table of VIPS, then being confined to the back to polish glasses for the rest of the night....... I could go on... I really would give anything to go in there with a hidden camera, but the legal bits and bobs behind it are too big a risk to take.


(Elizabeth mearns) #12

Please keep on reporting. This is such a great story. You deserve your own show.

Trying hard not to think about where Madame may be storing the baguettes while she guards them.


(Zoe Buckley) #13

I was actually thinking of going into that line of work myself... not from this experience, but it's something that has always drawn me... walking into a hotel from the outside you see all the issues.... issues that the staff and management are too involved to see. The issue with most establishments seen on these TV shows seems almost always to be an old family member set in their ways, getting under the feet of anyone wishing to be progressive. This place is no exception. I


(Shirley Morgan) #14

Sounds like you need Alex Polizzi (the hotel inspector) there :slight_smile: give her a try, I expect she knows and speaks French!


(Zoe Buckley) #15

This is not as funny as fawlty towers, folks, it's actually kind of scary... the sort of thing you see on hidden camera on 60 minutes.

So, I managed to get bread.... because up until last week ,mamie hid the bread in her apartment and came up with it, baguette by baguette during the service. I had to storm into the office and say "ALLO!!, it's a quarter past seven, and I have no bread.".... since then, I've been left a bag of bread, but I still have no idea what bakery it's from, nor how it gets ordered.

Two new waiting staff have arrived.... one seems to have a mental disability, the other is a pro and is in the same state of shock I was in 15 days ago.


(Zoe Buckley) #16

It's pretty easy, it's the only 4 star in Combloux, and even the French say that it's not really offering the facilities of a true 4 star.


(jeff clark(2)) #17

pack it in


(Norman Clark) #18

Elizabeth, I think she is a Colleen but I could be wrong?


(Elizabeth mearns) #19

French version. Where are you from Zoe?


(Norman Clark) #20

Elizabeth, Fawlty Towers has already been written ,and at best this could be a sequel?