I am a Hospitality Goddess

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
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53
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Trip End Nov 31, 2005


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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, June 2, 2005

Looking back I see that my only real entry about my job in Port Hedland was on my second day, so I feel that I should give people a bit more of a sense of what I've been up to for four weeks and will be up to for another three.

The cycle of this job begins at 4:45 every morning when I suddenly open my eyes, a nauseous feeling beginning in my stomach: oh, crap, I've overslept, I'm gonna be dead meat. I fumble around on top of the airconditioner and find my alarm clock and check. Oops, nope, I can sleep for fifteen more minutes, it's alright.

At 5:00 the alarm goes and I slip down off the bed, tiptoeing out so that I don't wake Donna, who usually sleeps in 'til about 1:00 because she's been up late the night before. I yawn my way through breakfast; I ponder my three skirts and three dress shirts and my name tag and try to decide which outfit to affix it to today. At 5:35 I go out shivering because even though it's probably twenty-five degrees, I am determined that it is cold. I drive the car past these three dogs who are just as hide-bound in their routine as I am. As soon as they see me pull the car out, they rush to the corner of the fence and stare. Only when I get the car in drive and start to pull out do they begin a chorus of ferocious barking; as soon as the tail end of the car clears their fence, they stop dead and slink off.

At 5:45 I arrive at work and rush to complete everything that needs to be done before the reception opens at 6:00. Since my return from Exmouth I've been promoted because Julie, who was the reservations expert before I left, is gone now and so now I'm in charge of reservations. This means I get a desk of my own and that the general manager calls me a lot to quiz me about things. "Cath [Australians are, as a rule, unable to understand the nickname 'Cat,' and they don't seem to like 'Cathy,' preferring 'Cath'], how have I lost two rooms for June 13th? What don't the new girls understand about asking you before they enter anything into the computer?" What the new girls probably don't understand is that I, should, by rights, also be a "new girl," and that one of the "new girls" is old enough to be my mother and probably has decades more experience in these sorts of jobs than I do.

Two minutes later she might call again. "Cath, go look at this paperwork for me. What's going on with this guy's purchase order?" When Glenda says jump, we jump, because she is ferocious and scary when she wishes to be. For most of the morning I'm balancing my time between checking people out, charging breakfasts to people's accounts, taking calls from housekeeping about what they've cleaned, entering reservations into the computer, sorting out stuff for the next day, making sure everything is ready for people to check-in, answering phone calls and generally dealing with any sort of chaos that might arise. Hotels can produce chaos pretty easily, especially if I'm the only person on the desk, there's three calls on hold, four people trying to check out, four pieces of important paperwork have gone missing, and one of the credit card machines is refusing to get on-line.

The most important part of it all is to smile prettily and make stupid small chat to distract everyone from the fact that not everything is running like well-stirred pancake mix. It's moving more like peanut butter.

I have a small advantage in keeping up the small talk, and it sounds something like this: "I'm trying to place that accent."
Pretty smile. "Canadian."
"I thought so, and I didn't want to say American. I know you guys hate that!" (I get told this at least once a day, honest to god).

I am a hospitality goddess now. When the new "girls" are flustered on the phone and saying, "umm, I'm not really sure about that, I, uhhh . . ." I get to say, "just put it through to my line and I'll take care of it." When I'm dealing with my reservations stuff in the back and there's a sudden panic out front on the desk, a head will pop into the back and say, "Cath, can you . . ." with one of those helpless shrug faces. Yeah, I'll be right there.

At about 3:00 I'm usually done with everything I need to do; making sure everyone got charged their mini-bar charges, that the credit cards are in balance, that we haven't had any cash go missing from the cash box, that all the paperwork's lined up for the night shift to start.

At the backpackers I usually have errands that take me 'til about 5:00, ranging from walking to the grocery store to dealing with some business at the post office. Then it's dinner and time to make sure I've got breakfast and lunch for the next day already taken care of. At about 7:00 I go for my nightly run, to and from the hotel along the water's edge pathway. Takes about an hour. Shower, dry my hair, read a bit of a book, watch random TV or monopolize the DVD player to play my CDs. I might socialize a bit out in the outside lounge if I'm feeling chatty, or watch a few episodes of Little Britain with people if I'm in the mood to laugh. By 9:30 it's bedtime because, well, I have to get up at 5:00 the next day again.

And that's how you learned that travelling isn't always particularly exciting. (But it can, in fact, be financially rewarding).
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