I had never been so excited for anything like practical week. When I saw my name in the list for lunch and dinner, all I could think about is the amount of experience and knowledge I would gain by spending so much time in the restaurant under the tutelage of Ms. Floor. That Monday Morning I woke up excited to put on my practical uniform and headed to the roll call. We already knew the drill: Uniform, check. Mise en place, check. Nails and hair, check. And then you’re on your way to work.
At 9:10 am, we entered the Le Marche restaurant for the service. Now, I come from a country where most things are done for you by domestic help and the first thing I was being told to do was to start cleaning the breakfast buffet counter. This was followed by cleaning tables, chairs, floors and polishing cutlery. As bizarre as it would have been for many others from India, it wasn’t much of a ‘professional-shock’ for me. I always knew what the hospitality industry demanded and that it would be challenging for a person who never had the need to make her own bed back home.
Finally, with all of the preliminary work complete, it was time to set tables and get everything prepared for the practical training students to have their lunch first. This meant serving, carrying several plates that weigh almost a kilo each in one hand and placing glasses on the table. Of course, to keep the flow going, I was also trying to follow Ms. Floor’s instructions to maintain, “sequence, sequence, secuence!” At this point, almost everything that seemed impossible to me as a kid in restaurants, suddenly became possible. What a gratifying moment!
So exactly at 12:30, people started storming in and service was underway. During the whole time, all I really thought about was to not drop a single piece of cutlery and especially the plates. I was a bit scared to say the least. After all, what if I made a dreadful mistake and spilt water over the customers? In hindsight, I am pretty sure all of us were having the same thoughts.
By the end of the lunch service, my heels were almost ready to kill me! To be honest, I was never used to working for so long in heels and fortunately the rush of adrenaline that came with the first day carried me through. No, don’t worry, I am not an adrenaline junkie but sometimes fear and anxiety give you that extra push when nothing else will. In this case, it starts when customers begin to pour in and you’re trying to seat them all quickly. It carries through until they have finished eating and you have cleared their tables. However, this wasn’t it though! To add to my rush, as I was walking towards the kitchen with my hands full of plates, I heard a sound – “Swoosh!” To top off my first day, my skirt had ripped open from the back.
By the end of lunch service, I was tired and drained. All I wanted to do was go back to my room and sleep. But no, I still had dinner service! Now, dinner service is supposed to be shorter and less tiring, that is provided it is ONLY dinner service. But considering we had been working since early morning, even a mundane task seemed draining at this point. But then, as I said before, the adrenaline rush came to the rescue once again.
After a short rest, we reported for dinner service at 6pm. This time we were working under Mr. Lopez. He split us into teams and gave each of us specific tasks to do. By the time dinner began I was already sweating and exhausted. The service finally began at 7.45pm and we were on our way again…seating guests, pouring water, clearing tables, and so on.
At this point I thought there could be no more surprises. I had managed to get through two service periods with no major blunders and the day was finally winding down. However, just when I was getting excited about going home around eight o’clock that evening, you guessed it, my second skirt decides to rip open too!
Looking back on that exhausting first week of practical training, I am learning and getting there, eventually. Next week, let there be less adrenaline and more calm!