Life as a General Assistant


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Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Sutherland » Lochinver
September 12th 2010
Published: September 18th 2010
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Being a general assistant at Inver Lodge for the most part is piss easy. Our shifts are split into three categories: Early shift, 8am to 3pm and usually includes a second two or three hour shift to cover dinner; Late shift 3pm to close; or the 12pm to close shift. For most of the day I do nothing. Most tasks are very quick and easy. I pretty much have to do light cleaning duties like vacuum and mop, take the linen down to the laundry, clean and stock the bar, serve lunch when I’m on and man the bar at nights. So yeah the majority of the day I’m doing nothing, it’s only really lunch and dinner that gets busy, more dinner than lunch. At nights I have to serve snacks and drinks to people just before they’re shown into the restaurant for their dinner reservation. Most of the time during this period both GA’s are on, and when both GA’s are on the fun begins. If you’d bothered to read one of my other posts you’d know that through the influence of John, we sneak in a few drinks every now and then. Well it’s more often than now and then. It’s usually when we’re both on. Lately while I’ve been busy doing nothing at work I’ve taken to flicking through the big book of cocktails, you know, so I can recommend cocktails to customers. I’ve been compiling a list of cocktails that not only sound delicious but also ones we have ingredients to make. Naturally we should also know what these cocktails taste like and learn how to make them. So we’re slowly working our way through this list, and it’s quite a big list (I highly recommend the cucumber martini, and of course the mojito). I’ve also been encouraged to try the wine’s we serve by the glass by Mr G, basically because I know absolutely nothing about wine. It could cost me my job if one of the hotel management group people find out that I don’t have a clue about wine. There’s a good reason why I know nothing about wine, basically because it tastes like shit. I’ve tried a few of our wines and not surprisingly, they taste like shit. So I’ve basically taken to asking all the other staff and pretty much memorising what they say the wines taste like. It’s better than telling the guests it’s kinda assy on the nose and tastes much the same. I still try the wines every now and then though. The whiskeys however, I have quite a bit of knowledge about. And of course the whiskeys I have no knowledge about I have been learning about. It’s probably more important than knowing about wine. Most people who drink wine know what they’re getting. Not many people know about whiskeys, and I’ve been asked to recommend whiskeys a hell of a lot more times than wine. And really, considering some of the prices of the whiskeys you’d hope the bar staff can justify it. The majority are under ten pounds, but we have quite a few pricey ones, like the Royal Lochnager special edition at 27 pounds a dram (nice and smooth drink, I got to try it out when I poured a drink for a customer only to find a spec in the drink, and this guy would have noticed it coz he was a stuck up anal prick), Brora at 40 pounds, but the worst is the Johnny Walker Blue King George V at 60 pounds per dram. It’s not surprising that this bottle hasn’t been touched, though neither has the Blue label bottle at 22.80 a dram. I’ve picked up a few new whiskeys but the one I’m probably most impressed with is the Balvenie double wood. Nice and smooth with a bit of a chocolate aftertaste, fantastic for a digestive and only 6.50 a dram!

So here I am, working in a four star hotel and I’m sure most of you that know me probably would never have imagined me working in a four star hotel. Not because I’m above it, more that I’m just too clumsy and unrefined to live up to four star standards. And it’s true. It would be pretty obvious that I’ve only been doing it for a month. Obviously as I’ve already pointed out I have no idea about wine, I also have no idea how to serve wine properly. I often forget to show the bottle of wine to the customer when it’s been ordered and get them to test it. I don’t hold the bottle properly, with my thumb in the bottom bit and every now and then slightly spill the wine when I pour it. Once when I was pouring wine for a woman and slightly spilled it I quite audibly muttered out “Oops, fucked it”. One time in a semi full restaurant I was setting white wine glasses on the only round table, as I was concentrating on the table and wine glasses I completely missed the ice bucket on the ground with a full bottle of wine and walked straight into it. Add to that I’ve also spilt a glass of orange juice on a kid and I quite often almost lose items of food when placing plates on tables. I can’t balance more than one plate on my hand/arm. Well that one I’m not game enough to try out, so I just straight out avoid it. I’ve added to my long history with fires by setting fire to the cloth that we hand out to hold hot tea pots (I’ve also singed quite a few hand and arm hairs setting the fire place). My glass polishing skills are a pile of shit. Although to be fair the cloths we use to polish glasses are a pile of shit too. And our glasses are no match for my strong manly hands and often shatter when I’m polishing. I pretty much always get away unharmed but I have stabbed myself with a glass stem though. Glass polishing is slowly creeping up on my kill list. I can’t stand it, it’s so god damn tedious. At the end of the night us GA’s pretty much have to polish ALL the glasses that have been used that night. And most of the glasses come through after the second GA has left. So depending on how many people have come in the glass count could vary between 80 to 150. It’s fucking shit. We also have to polish the glass panels on the doors into the hotel, bar and restaurant because guests are too retarded to use the door handles and smear their oily finger prints all over them when they push open the doors.

Now I can’t talk about work without talking about the guests. For the most part, they’re rich. There have been quite a few fancy cars sitting in our car park. A lot of guests are really nice and can hold a really good conversation. Some can be interesting. Some are just twats. We recently had a British actor stay with us. He wasn’t really famous, he was in the Monarch of the Glen TV series but he acted like he was a rock star. Always came in late for breakfast and dinner. Him and his girlfriend would always stay late in the bar and keep me from closing. To be fair he was pretty nice, but he took up valuable pub time on Fridays and Saturdays. Whenever he’d come to the restaurant, all the British staff would talk to him and pretty much just jizz everywhere the whole time. This guy would simultaneously jizz everywhere from all the attention he was getting. It was sickening. You’d think if someone like Liam Neeson or some other good British actor came along you could justify the jizz. But he was some nobody in some shitty TV show. I also noticed that his hand has been super glued to his girlfriend’s ass. I’m fairly sure the only time it wasn’t on her ass was when he was beating off from all the attention he was getting.

Most of the guests come up here for the fishing and stalking (deer hunting, I still chuckle when people tell me they’re stalkers) season. We recently had a Colonel come in for the fishing season (he didn’t catch a thing). He comes here regularly with his mistress for the fishing season. Now before I met the Colonel and his mistress I naturally assumed that it was like a middle aged man with a younger woman. Imagine my surprise when I find out that they’re probably both in their late 70’s or early 80’s. I can imagine an 80 year old guy with a mistress, but an 80 year old being a mistress? Fucking sick. We also had an American family touring around the country playing golf. For some reason it seemed that they were desperate to give me all their money by way of tipping. One afternoon the grandmother came into the bar for some green tea while the rest of the family went for a walk. After she was done, she walked off and came back and she said to me, “I’m sorry I didn’t tip you before, but I had no money. So I went to my room to get you a tip. I hope it’s enough after you convert it.” as she handed me two American dollars. I thought I could turn this into a funny anecdote and I tried it on no less than four people, only for them to try to buy the money off me instead of even chuckling. It would have been worth them buying it off me, if I’d try to convert it at the bank I’d probably end up owing them money from the fees. I promptly told each person to fuck off, mainly in spite for not even acknowledging my shitty anecdote.

My absolute pet hate from people isn’t how rude they are or loud and obnoxious, it’s how they can fail to successfully put food in their mouths. Seriously the amount of crumbs and chips and bits of food I have to clean up after people is ridiculous. You’d think that these people honestly believe that the carpet is a living thing and needs to be feed, like your pet dog hanging around the dinner table. There was even this one time where these Irish girls came in for lunch and dropped some grapes and cheese. How the fuck can you drop grapes and cheese on the floor and not even notice? It wasn’t even like they were small and rolled under the curtains. It mainly pisses me off because it can be embarrassing when people come in for lunch and I don’t get an opportunity to clean up the mess. I know I’d be less than impressed if I came into a four start restaurant and paying extortionate prices for food (a serve of chips is literally nine chips in a three by three stack) and having to sit in other people’s crumbs.

Actually I have another pet hate which I have just realised, probably not as bad as the food thing though, in fact probably more just my imagination. It’s probably just the vernacular of the affluent, but it almost feels like they’re being rude in a nice way. Usually after doing something like serving them a drink or clear things off a table they’d say something like “that’s perfect, thank you” or “good job, well done”. That’s perfect? Good job? All I did was pour you a drink and put it in front of you. It’s not like I did something awesome like carve a statue of them or cured cancer. It’s just a fucking drink. Back home though there was a charcoal chicken shop and whenever we handed money over to pay for the food we’d get a “well done”. I guess this is pretty much the same thing, it’s probably just the affluent that annoy me.

For the most part the job can be enjoyable. I’ve met quite a few different people from different places of the world, and they are mostly nice. And the few Aussies that come in do enjoy hearing the Aussie accent again. One couple were rapt because I gave them the first “no worries” they’d heard in a month and another because I could make lemon lime and bitters properly. And I’ve been talking to other people about my travels and future plans, and getting some tips on places to go too. Most of the time I get along with the other staff, we try to make the most of the long hours by having fun. Obviously when stress is involved tempers can flare, but usually at the end of the night we all get along. As much as I like it and the other people I work with, I’d really much rather be off travelling and having no responsibilities again but unfortunately I need money to spend money. Only six weeks til I’m done, and then I’ll be driving around through the highlands, up to Orkney and down the Isles of Harris, Lewis and Skye before flying on to Ireland.


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