26 October 2007
Snakes & Rattlers!
SNAKES & RATTLERS!
By Hoda Nassef
As the layman knows in the hospitality industry, each hotel and beach resort has daily early morning meetings of all the Department Heads with the General Manager, in order to discuss the forthcoming daily activities, keep up-to-date with the other departments and the daily operations, air grievances and solve problems.
Recently during one of these Daily Briefings in a 5-Stars Hotel and Beach Resort, while I was taking down the Minutes, the Executive Housekeeper admitted that the linen inventory had been accomplished, but several towels of all shapes and sizes were missing. Strangely enough, these occurrences, he said, started after the Hotel hired a batch of new “casuals” for the Housekeeping and F & B Departments. So, the General Manager suggested to re-check the Laundry Room, the Staff Housing, the Storage Rooms and even the Guest Rooms, to locate the missing towels.
No sooner had this decision been made than we heard a commotion outside in the Lobby near the Front Office. As the voice of a foreign lady penetrated through the insulation of the conference walls, the General Manager stopped the Briefing and decided to see what all the racket was about.
The guests were a family of four. The foreign couple had two children who shared adjoining rooms with their parents, and the mother insisted on changing the rooms, pronto, or leaving the hotel. The father, however, asked in an agitated tone to see the G.M., who was just then behind his shoulder, and right on time to intervene and help the flustered Front Office staff in their dilemma. But, the lady would not be mollified, and raised her voice even a bit higher. All we could make out were strange words, as “rattlesnakes”, “black magic”, “frightened”, “voodoo”, “pharaoh”, “that man”, “beds” – words which sounded more like the preview of a thriller, or our in-house science fiction movie.
Just as I was about to put my foot in my mouth by suggesting that they could change the T.V. channels, the lady finally elucidated in a loud but coherent voice: “Every day when we return from the beach to our rooms, we find rattlesnakes everywhere – in the bathrooms, on the tables, the sofa, and the beds. That man is doing ‘voodoo’ and scaring the children with his black magic! Come and see for yourselves!”
A big procession went trotting off to the rooms to investigate. Not being too partial to snakes, nor black magic, I kept a good distance at the tail of the procession, wishing I had armed myself with a flute and basket, instead of my pen and writing pad.
As I tiptoed belatedly into the room, I nearly tripped over a big laundry basket …(with snakes?) and saw the Executive Housekeeper bent in half … (from poison pangs?) To my amazement, he was laughing! I peaked inside the ominous basket, and saw a bunch of towels in funny twisted shapes – then was pop-eyed when I looked further beyond. The beds, sofa and tables were covered with towels, in the shapes of swans or ducks. However, apparently the new housekeeper brought with him a towel-shaping ‘skill’ from his former post at another hotel, but was not too adept at his ‘towel technique’; most of the long-necked swans had no bodies! The awkward swans and ducks actually did look like rattlesnakes!
The General Manager looked aghast, and was apologetic to the Guests. The Front Office Manager looked sheepish. The Executive Housekeeper had his arms wrapped around his waist to try to control his hysterics, and the rest of us had our mouths agape.
All’s well that ends well! The new housekeeper was not fired, but was warned and reprimanded for trying to ingratiate himself in getting more tips from his towel tricks, let alone wasting so much time (and towels!) for only one set of rooms. The Guests were satisfied with the G.M.’s explanation of the housekeeper’s good intentions, and were invited to a full day of free meals. And, the ‘mystery of the missing towels’ was quickly solved!