Apr 25, 2011

Welcome to the Hotel California

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

The price of living in the ski station and earning money for future trips is hard work. For a week I was able to live my vision of a tamer version of Magenta from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Then I had to start looking like I mean business. When the supervisors had discovered the special abilities of all (which means, both) the runner-girls, it was made my main task to carry everything heavy that needed to be carried, at top speed and smiling, for hours and weeks and weeks on end. Along with the enforcement of this new subspecialization, my short-sleeved, red-lipped, tight-skirted French maid costume was changed for the official monkey suit that made me look like a gorilla in a skirt.

How to prepare onself for military service

You know those cute candles on every step of the stairs, on the tables and shelves, that make the atmosphere indoors so romantically brilliant? My lung capacity went up by X0% due to blowing out 102 candles every evening for two months.

And how do they get the forks so shiny? My fingers went coarse while I was busy becoming the Mistress Cutlery Polisher of the restaurant and I will probably stink of vinegar for the rest of my life.

My biceps have gone up two sizes and support well the wrists that masterfully balance 14 big wine glasses on one tray. I'm astonished at myself if I compare it to the first week when I sloshed a client with beer splurting out of the lonely Leffe bottle that I dropped off the tray.

I have a PhD in serving bread with an oversized pair of fork and spoon. Obtaining it was like a nightly circus school: invariably, I made the little buns and minibaguettes fly across the restaurant or bounce merrily on the tables between wine glasses, indecisive whether to land on the bread plate of the glam mister or the glam misses. The visual circus was always accompanied by the soundtrack of me laughing and overusing descriptive phrases like Oops! or Ooh-la-la! Les baguettes, elles veulent sauter aujourd'hui!

I can speak English with a slight French accent to confuse Estonian customers. Deceiving them into not realizing that I can spy on their conversations wasn't much fun though, because they didn't hold any conversations. To compensate for boredom, they grabbed the bread with their hands like the tiniest of the French children often used to, saving me from the eternal Oops I dropped the bread! game. Unfortunately, the morning when I was off, I missed an entertaining opportunity to drop a comment in the lines of Pole paha... Instead, it was my colleague who was shocked the whole day after having stumbled upon a naked guy walking out of shower while she was serving them breakfast in the room. I would have laughed and saved the story for my great grand children.

By some strange twist of fate I always manage to find the young managers tripping on power or else they are simply too numerous to efficiently avoid them. This job did not spare me either, pushing me constantly into a verbal fight with a certain Napoleon who was sporadically exploding and switching between Bonaparte and Dynamite. Mostly I had to battle for my rights of getting some sleeping hours at nights or a rare 20-second break between hours of racing around with heavy loads. Needless to say, I always lost, for he obviously outranked me in the line of command. Often it seemed to me that the necessity of having me (or anyone for that matter) there and the quality of my work was measured more by how I managed to make myself look busy on the rare moments of inactivity than by how much I sweated for the rest of the 45-55h working hours of the week. Also, I learned to switch off my brain. Any time I failed to do so and applied thinking - or, god forbid, initiative - I got in trouble. For all this training I consider myself experienced enough to be ready for serving my time in the French Foreign Legion.

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'

Not the least important new skill obtained: I learned to make the time go past. The French Foreign Legion will have to fight the guardians of the Tower of London for me, as I am now fit for both. The traditional French style 5-star hotel means that in those moments of boredom with nothing to do and no supervisor around in need of convincing that we're oh-so-very-busy, we were still required to stand still as if having swallowed a long hard stick. No leaning. No crossing hands. No crossing legs. No lost look in the eyes or else sanctions in the shape of Napoleonic explosions shall proceed. Sir, I'm here only if and when you need me, sir. Otherwise I do not exist, sir attitude. A side remark: who would tip a waitress who doesn't exist? Not too many people.

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