Hospital & Hospitality staff! Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year
Xmas and New Year is a time for relaxation, family time and of course big spending! For hospitals and hospitality it is also the time of madness when the similarities between hospitals and hotels and restaurants are most obvious .
Already during the year we have a lot in common. Not only do we both provide bed and breakfast – of different standard where sometimes the hotel is better and – honestly - sometimes the hospital. We also work for little money with as much unpaid overtime as possible. We work on public holidays and weekends. We are really busy in the evenings, late into the night and at all impossible times when everybody else is on the couch.
Our feet are used to a marathon every day. We are constantly in contact with our clients who tell us that we are the best, they love us - right after the other guy told us that we are the biggest useless piece of crap and should be skinned and shot! We love them all!
If you work in hospitals or in hospitality you appear to be a mental case. Actually – you are! The only reason why they don’t put us in this long sleeved white shirts is that they need us to do the work. And then comes Xmas and New Year and they need us even more!
The festive season starts for hospitals early because as soon as the first firework gets sold the first people start to blow themselves to pieces. Burns are routine and they can only compete with traffic accident victims as nobody could have foreseen snow and ice on the roads in winter.
In hotels and restaurants the Christmas and New Year parties have started already as every company has to entertain their Board, investors and employees. Bankers have to spend as much as possible of their expense account - your money - before the end of the fiscal year and families that don’t want to see each other under the Christmas tree finish this part of celebrations off early. Reservations for New Years Eve and the important Christmas days are pouring in. The owners and managers push hard to take as many reservations as possible in order to make maximum money.
“Shall we open the terrace?”
“In December - minus -5 Celsius?”
“It’s just a matter of selling it right!”
“Put one more table near the fireplace!”
“It’s getting too close. You want to burn them?”
“Extinguish with Champagne and put it on their bill!”
“We need more staff!”
“No - once a year they can move faster and work longer!”
“Do we pay overtime?”
“It's hospitality! It’s what they have chosen for themselves! Not my problem!”
Back in hospital the pre-season victims are getting treated while preparations starts for the Christmas time when Grandma falls into the potato salad, the rustic holiday makers are chopping wood and body parts in equal amounts and self-made Christmas presents put super glue in festive looking eyes! What a joy! As on every weekend or late at night it is a good Christmas season tradition that in the hospital emergency room people will show up with a two-week-old toothache, a headache, nose bleeding or with a slight feeling that they might not be that well at all. These people of course tremendously help Emergency Nurses and Doctors to get a little relaxing distraction from the serious cases that are piling up. Hospital duty schedules for the peak days are getting prepared. Of course, nobody has to work on New Years Eve or Christmas Eve who has children, relatives or great invitations.
Are you joking? It’s a hospital! It’s what they have chosen for themselves! Not our problem!”
Then the wonderful days are here! In our hotels and restaurants we elegantly serve Champagne and 8-course menus. We smoothly pull the cork out of the 1999 Chateau Petrus and flambé the Crepes Suzette to perfection. The sommelier tastes every single bottle for the big banquet to make sure they have no cork and now has to be discreetly carried to the linen room to have a nap. The headwaiter explains with outmost dignity and in colourful, elegant words the Amuse bouche to the guest who, after the third Martini really doesn’t care. It is the same elegant headwaiter who ten minutes ago shouted the final words in the staff briefing. ”Take the finger out of the a…! It’s run or die today!” There is a back and a front of the house! In the back we sweat and swear, calm down the dishwasher in tears and try to find one more coffee spoon. Just one more coffee spoon, please!
Meanwhile, the elderly lady that has burnt her fingertip on the table candle runs to the toilet to save her dress from spots - stumbles over the carpet - hits the waiter with a tray full of Champagne glasses - scatters them all over the place and all those very well dressed people. Wonderful! We clean up – pay for the mess - and arrange her transport to the hospital where our soul mates will take care of her.
The cook down in the kitchen who just burnt himself the fifth time today is okay - at least up to now no real deep cuts - no intestines hit! But the day is still not over! Good that we don’t have time to feel the pain. Aren’t we lucky?
Peter the new waiter gets the order from the headwaiter to pick up the bloody damned goose for table 5 from the kitchen. Peter hurries and snatches the goose looking lamb at the kitchen counter as fast as he can. Proudly given to the headwaiter - the headwaiter is willing to kill him! The cook is ready to kill him! So a kick from the headwaiter brings him back to the serial killer smile of the Executive Chef who hands him the real goose as this moron seems not to know the difference between a fish and a tree. “And the sauce you take with it” says the Chef. “Either in the dish or I can spread it all over your jacket. What is easier for you?” Peter feels great tonight and hurries back to the headwaiter who wants to kill him. Peter joined hotel business because he likes to work with people. Great choice!
Meanwhile in the hospital the first totally drunken ones arrive. Finally! The nurse already had the feeling that something was missing tonight! Most threw up in the ambulance but some saved it for the reception here. Thanks from everybody working here - now the aroma comes close to perfection! It smells of burns, blood, urine, medicine, alcohol, sweat and … yes – the guy with the food poising and diarrhea adds one more component. Thanks - almost perfect!
Where in hotel and restaurants it starts to calm down after midnight to three o’clock our soul mates working in hospitals are experiencing peak time. It’s peak season. The hotel and restaurant and hospital owners make top profits. Thinking about the overtime not paid to the staff it even looks better. They get tips anyway! The staff can count their tips later but divided through the 18 hours they worked today it is better not to mention it. And they still have to clean up. The hospital staff doesn’t even get tips.
The hospital accountant will also be happy – next week. He is in the Maldives as office hours are office hours. The Insurances are happy too. Good – tough enough - they will have to put in some overtime to increase fees for everybody who claimed something tonight. Your injury will heal thanks to the hard working staff in the hospital – the increase in insurance payments will never go away – thanks to the guy from the insurance - who is right now also in the Maldives!
Believe it or not! As perverted as it might sound! We like it! We enjoy working hard, putting ourselves to the edge and we even have fun doing so! To survive all this we also have a healthy life style in common consuming a lot of coffee, cigarettes and alcohol – alcohol of course after work – mostly! We love our colleagues – we have a common bound. We serve! We have a rough language and a straight forward behaviour. We talk straight and have tremendous amounts of empathy, sympathy , tolerance and respect for everybody. If someone recorded the talk in a hospital or in a hotel we could be all charged with discrimination, racism, abusive language and many other felonies.
We are not politically correct – we are just honest and we care. We do it all for you but - honestly - we don’t give a dam what you think of us – we will still serve you!
Thanks to all of you in hospitals and hospitality! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.