Sunday, October 07, 2007

IF THE BANQUET MANAGER AINT HAPPY, AINT NOBODY HAPPY

“Mike, wake your black ass up”
“What time is it”
“Six A.M. brother man, time to rock the house
Mike was the Café Sous Chef and he came in every morning about 3;30 to start breakfast. Mike was a good guy, but when I would come in at 6:00, some days he would be on the bench in the dressing room, balanced somehow on a 6” wide wooden plank.
Sound asleep.
He would de snorin’ like a bigdog, with this huge smile on his face. He has gold tooth with a big "M" on it, and a gold earing. Of course his head was shaved right down to the ebony.
Mike liked to party.

I got dressed and headed upstairs. I was the Garde-Manger and the 1000 room hotel had been insanely busy the last 6 months. Chef kept sayin’ stuff like “After this week the bottom falls out”.
Not today, hell, not this week.
I was starting to think the Chef was just stringin’ us along and we were, in fact, confined to being busy as snot for the rest of our sorry lives. When I would tell people that I worked 85 hours last week, and that I would be having a 14 hour day today, they would nod and say something like
‘Yeah, me too” and expect that I didn’t believe them just like they didn’t believe me.
But hey, that’s Foodservice man, and right now there was a deadline to meet.

At 7:30 there was a Breakfast for 300 people and I had fruit mirrors to be placed on the Buffet.
Chief Steward would bring a Queen Mary, we’d load it up and upstairs we would go, along with Granola and bowls of Yogurt, Jelly’s and butter and we’d take Danish from Pastry as well.
Me and my four ladies of the cold food were finishing up the mirrors when I heard the ruckus. It was Bill, the Banquet Manager and he was over by the Cafeteria line.

“Where are my fruit trays?” Bill was asking a Busboy.
‘Where are my Fruit Trays” Bill was asking a Line Cook.
‘Where are my Fruit Trays” Bill was asking the Potwasher.

Bill Bobbers was always dressed to the tens. He had a handkerchief that matched his tie, and just the right amount of cuff showing out of the sleeves of his Gucci. Hell, I wouldn’t know a Gucci from a Mens Wearhouse, but Bill always looked like his momma dressed him. He had two Banquet WaIters with him, and he wore them like bodyguards
Bill had not been with us long, just several months, and he had seemed fairly capable. He had transferred from Jersey, or Boston, or Buffalo or somewhere.
I had not had to deal with him much, but I could sense he and I were about to go ‘round.

“Over here, Billbo, I’ve got em” and motioned to him. I had taken to calling him Billbo, but I don’t think I‘d let him in on it yet
“What did you call me?” He asked.
“Umm, Billbo” and I gave him my best smile.
He frowned.
‘I need those trays now” he barked.
“Well, I’m almost ready to send ‘em up, Tony (The Steward) should be here in a minute”
“ But I need em now” and he turned to the Main kitchen and announced “I need a Sous-Chef over here”

I could tell Bill was stressed and that probably I hadn’t helped with my pet name, but now I was pissed.
“Goddam you Billy Bobbers, what do I look like …Chopped Liver?”
I pointed to my embroidered "Garde Manger/Sous Chef" insignia that I had given Blood, Sweat and Tears for.

He turned and glared at me. We shouted, we cursed, we were two real idiots in the cold food area and we were about to get nose to nose when Tony pulled up with his Queen Mary.

“See Billbo, just chill out, its all happen’ just like Jaheezus the Christ planned” I said.
And you know that didn’t help any.
From what I recall, this set the tone for everyone in the hotel that day.
At about 2;00 P.M., the memo came from the F&B Director that there was to be a meeting at 3:00 and it listed about 12 people to be there, including Mike, Billbo and I.

Seated in a circle, we were going to clear the air as directed by the F&B Director, Kurt, who sat two seats down from me.
‘I want us to go around the circle, and everyone just go ahead and say who they have a problem with and why.
Now, I had worked with Kurt for two years and it did not surprise me when he said..
‘Bulletholes, you go first”
…because he knew that I will speak right up.

I glanced around the room. I knew that I had to try to play this right or risk looking like as big a jerk as I can sometimes truly be.
Or worse.

As this was going through my mind, I noticed Mike, my Sous Chef buddy, was just about to fall asleep. Then it hit me.

“Mike!”
Like most Kitchen people I have a big voice, that is too say, I talk too loud.
Mike jumped and I continued as per instructions.
“Mike, I know you come in at 3;00 in the morning and the odds are good you didn’t get to bed last night, but when I find you asleep in the Locker Room it just pisses me off. Try to stay F’n awake at work will ya?”
Mike just grinned at me.

And I continued around the room. If I didn’t have a problem with a particular person I just made one up because there was no way in hell anyone was going to claim I was cryin’ about Bill “Bilbo” Bobbers.
And when I got to Billbo I said:.
“Bill, I don’t know what you’re problem is …maybe its just that you are a Yankee…all I know is when you open your mouth, you could say "Good Mornin” and it would still sound ugly. It would still piss me off. But I’ve never once heard you say “good anything” to anybody. "

I looked at Kurt and he seemed to give me a nod of approval.

Well everyone else went around said whatever, including Mike who slammed me pretty good on…
who knows what, probably dinkin' around too much…
but by the end we were all ready to get the hell out of that room.

You know, sometimes us Southern folks, we can get away with saying some ugly things without sounding too ugly. I never gave anyone a nickname without clearing it with them again.

But the Moral of this story, if there is one I would say is
“If you are going to have a problem with someone, you may as well have a problem with everyone”

But there’s an even better version of that, and it fits for lot of stuff…Kurt taught me this:
‘If you think you are not part of the problem, you are part of the problem”

2 comments:

peacefulstorm24 said...

Even though the "around the table" setting was probably uncomfortable, it sounds like a good idea...I might have to use it with my team, if I ever get back to work.

bulletholes said...

HAHAHAH!
I don't know how you found this!
Its really still under construction, my rough draft!
I tried to bury it for my pal banquet Manager...too funny!
i Stormy!