Table(cloth) That Discussion

| NS, Canada | Bad Behavior, Bosses & Owners, Liars/Scammers

(At the hotel where I work all front desk employees have specific responsibilities. Mine is to manage the banquet/meeting rooms. I have to manage the reservations, submit all the catering requests to the assistant general manager, and make sure that the rooms are clean and set at all times. After a recent meeting, I noticed that four of our tablecloths are stained with what appeared to be nail polish. After having housekeeping pass it through the wash twice we still aren’t able to get the stains out so I ask my boss what I should do.)

Boss: “Just throw them away.”

Me: “Okay, but I have a meeting coming up next week that needs table cloths so you’ll have to tell me how to go about replacing them. I’m not sure who our supplier of linens is so—”

Boss: “Excuse me? You have nothing to do with ordering, you got that? You are a receptionist. What makes you think you have authority to spend the company’s money?”

Me: “I… I’m sorry, it’s just… We need to replace these if we’re throwing them out, so I thought—”

Boss: “You haven’t been working here long enough to know how things work. Just throw them out. I’ll deal with it.”

Me: “Okay, no problem, boss.”

(I go ahead and throw them out and get on with my day. The following week I am setting up for the meeting that has requested the tables be dressed with tablecloths, napkins, and name cards. This particular client is especially important; he is one of our investors and from what I understand there are some negotiations taking place that could end in us getting extra funding for some much needed renovations. It is essential that this meeting go as planned. I realize part way through that I really don’t have enough tablecloths to do all the tables. I go see my boss to find out if we replaced the ones we threw out.)

Boss: “I told you before; the ordering is none of your business! Where do you get off trying to put your nose into our affairs? This has nothing to do with you. I will get some new tablecloths when I get them. Now please, learn your place and do your job. Go set the room, please.”

Me: “Well, that’s the problem. I can’t finish the set up without the tablecloths!”

Boss: “So take them from the other meeting rooms!”

Me: “Those tables aren’t the same size! The tablecloths wouldn’t fit and even if they did, those rooms are occupied and the tables are in use. I can’t just walk in there and steal their tablecloths.”

Boss: “Then finish the job without them.”

Me: “I can’t.”

Boss: “Yes. You. Can.”

Me: “No, I really can’t. [Boss], the request was to have all the tables dressed with proper place settings. I am missing four tablecloths. That means that four tables will have napkins and place setting but no tablecloths. Four ugly, brown tables in a sea of white and burgundy. Do you know how mad [General Manager] would be if she knew I left the room like that?”

Boss: “Now you listen to me, girly, you have NO RIGHT to question me! I will be telling [General Manager] about this attitude of yours and if you don’t like the way I run my ship then you can jump ship and find work elsewhere. Got it? Now don’t you EVER question me again. Go set up the meeting room, then clock out and go home. I’ll cover the front desk for the rest of your shift; I don’t want to speak to you again.”

Me: “Ok… Fine. I’m sorry. I’ll go finish up and head out.”

Boss: “Thank you.”

(I go do the best I can but the tables obviously look ridiculous. It doesn’t help that they are old and worn, with the tops scratched and the cork board showing in some places where the vinyl wood finish peeled off. Part of our potential renovations would include replacing these old tables but for the time being we’ve been using the table cloths to cover up these flaws. I try to make sure the least offensive tables are the ones left uncovered but there is only so much I can do. I finish up and clock out. I am off the next day, when the meeting takes place, and come in at seven am the following day.)

Boss: “[My Name], I need to see you in my office, NOW.”

Me: “Um, okay.” *we go into her office* “Is everything okay, [Boss]? Is this about the other day with the table?”

Boss: “No, things are not okay. We depend on everybody here to pull their weight and keep things running smoothly. This is not a daycare we are running here. We were depending on you to get that meeting room set for [Investor] yesterday. You knew how important this was and I feel like you threw us under the bus. We lost the investment because of your insubordination and we will NOT be getting our renovations because of this. I can’t even begin to tell you how angry I am with you and it’s only because of [General Manager] that I’m not firing you today. Instead I am writing you up and you are suspended without pay for one week followed by one week of retraining.”

Me: “I don’t understand. What did I do?”

Boss: “What did you do?! My God, [My Name] you left that room looking ridiculous!”

Me: “How exactly? I did exactly what you told me to do.”

Boss: “We had four tables with no tablecloths! And the tables were all disgusting looking! [Investor] was so insulted and embarrassed that all his colleagues had to see that. He brings these people in here bragging about his business and this is what he is presented with? That was totally unacceptable.”

Me: “WHAT?! You have got to be kidding me! [Boss], I TOLD you we were missing tablecloths and you told me to set it up without them!”

Boss: “Well, you should have made more of an effort to make me understand the situation, then. That was your responsibility.”

Me: “I tried! You told me not to question you and to leave early because you didn’t want to talk to me, remember?”

Boss: “This conversation is over, I’ve told you before not to question me and you just don’t listen. Something needs to change here. Now, please leave. We will have a nice discussion about your future at this company when you come back next week.”

(At this point I’m close to tears because I’m scared for my job and also because I can’t afford to miss a week’s worth of pay. I decide to take a chance and go into the general manager’s office.)

Me: “Excuse me? Can I come in to talk to you for a moment.”

General Manager: “Yes, come in. I imagine you had a talk with [Boss]?”

Me: “Well, yes. That’s what I wanted to discuss.”

General Manager: “You know, you really let us down yesterday. You’ve been doing such good work that up until this I was considering you for a promotion, guest relations/banquet manager. But now, I don’t know. You’re slacking off, leaving early, and you cost us a significant amount of money. I’m so angry right now that I can’t even adequately express it. I feel numb right now. What the h*** happened with you?”

Me: *breaking down in tears* “I told [Boss] last week that some of the tablecloths were stained and housekeeping couldn’t get them cleaned so she told me to just throw them out. I told her I needed them replaced in time for [Investor]’s meeting and she chewed me out for trying to get involved with ordering and spending the company’s money. She told me to learn my place and do as I’m told. Then when I was setting up the room I asked her if she had gotten the replacement tablecloths yet and she chewed me out again and told me she will buy them when she buys them and to finish the set up with what I had. I tried to explain that I really couldn’t do that without making the room look stupid and she told me not to question her and that if I don’t like how she runs things to go find a job somewhere else. Then she told me to finish without the tablecloths and leave early because she didn’t want to talk to me anymore. I did what I could. I really don’t understand how I’m being held accountable for this!”

(The general manager just stares silently for a moment, then removes his glasses and rubs his temples.)

General Manager: “She threw them out?”

Me: *sniffles* “Yes, four of them. They had nail polish or something on them.”

General Manager: “Nail polish…?”

Me: “Yes.”

General Manager: “Did we by any chance host a bridal shower in that room last week?”

Me: “Yes, I’m pretty sure they did makeovers and stuff. The table cloths and carpets were a mess and the room reeked of nail polish remover the next day.”

General Manager: “You do know that our security system records audio, don’t you? And that I’m going to be checking to see if your conversation with [Boss] really took place, right?”

Me: “Go ahead and check them. We spoke at around quarter-to-one outside her office the day before last. The conversation about throwing out the tablecloths was two days after the bridal party, around eleven am, at the front desk. Might have been close to noon, actually; we ate not too long after, I think.”

General Manager: “Okay… I told [Boss] that her sister could not host her bridal party here because we are not a party facility. We host business meetings and conferences. I was not aware that she went around me and had you schedule it anyway.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know…”

General Manager: “And we never throw out linens without logging them in the defects book. Any damaged linens get recycled into rags or floor covering for maintenance and we get our suppliers to replace damaged stock. If ANYBODY had bothered to tell me we threw away four tablecloths I could have had [Supplier] ship in a whole new set in time for the meeting.”

Me: “Oh… I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you…”

General Manager: “No, it’s not your fault. That’s [Boss]’s responsibility. Go home; take the day off with pay while I sort this all out. I’m going to get [Head Housekeeper] to do an inventory of our tablecloths to see if they are, in fact, missing. I’m also going to be checking those cameras. If I find that you are telling me the truth I will call you myself tonight to let you know what’s going on.”

Me: “Okay, thank you so much. And again, I’m sorry about all of this.”

General Manager: “Don’t worry; just go home and rest. I’ll you later one way or another.”

(I did get that call later and was told to resume my normal schedule the next day. My boss was suspended without pay for two weeks and mysteriously ceased to be on staff three days after returning. I have a new boss now who listens and doesn’t act like a tyrant and yes, I did get my promotion about a week ago. I couldn’t be happier!)


Check And Double-Check The Check

| New Forest, England, UK | Bizarre/Silly, Employees, Money

(My siblings and I arrange a weekend away for our parents’ anniversary and book some rooms in a B&B run by a couple. I do most of the admin for organising the trip but I arrive last due to a delayed train, so the landlady doesn’t meet me until the next morning, when I am dressed in very casual clothes. When it is time to pay, my sister and I find the landlady. We have agreed that I will pay by cheque and my siblings will pay me back, as the B&B doesn’t accept card. Note that in addition to wearing very casual clothes, I look very young.)

Me: “Would you mind giving me the bill so we can pay?”

LandLady: “Ah, yes. How would you like to pay?”

Me: “Cheque, please.”

LandLady: “Sure.” *starts to write out bill* “And are all of you paying?”

Me: “I’m paying the full amount and then my siblings are paying me back. It’s a surprise holiday for our parents.”

LandLady: “You’re paying it all?”

Me: “Well, yes, but my siblings are paying me back.”

LandLady: “Okay…”

(She hands me the bill, which is a few hundred pounds.)

Me: “All right, great. Let me just write out the cheque.”

LandLady: “That is quite a bit of money.”

Me: “Yup.”

LandLady: “Are you sure you want to pay it upfront just yourself by cheque?”

Me: “Yep. I’m afraid I didn’t fancy carrying this amount of cash around with me and your website said I could pay by cheque.”

LandLady: “But it is quite a bit of money.”

Me: “Yes… and I have the money in my bank account; I checked before I came up here.”

LandLady: “If you’re sure… I mean, if your siblings wanted to pay some of it… You know, chip in…”

(At this point, my sister decides to step in as I’m not understanding what the landlady’s problem is.)

Sister: “She’s actually the best placed to pay upfront. She probably earns the most of the three of us; definitely a lot more than I do.”

(The landlady looks at me with some surprise.)

LandLady: “Um, what do you do?”

Me: “I’m training to be a lawyer in a corporate city law firm.”

LandLady: “Oh. Oh! You understand, don’t you, the worry we get when people write cheques, though? Since we can’t do card up here…”

Me: “Yeah, I know.”

(She was already very pleasant to us but I noticed she seemed to treat me a bit more like an adult after that.)


Doesn’t Know What You(tah) Are Talking About

| MD, USA | Employees, Extra Stupid, Geography

(I am moving cross country by myself with all of my belongings in a little pickup truck. Note that I’m female, in my early 20s, and look like I’m 14. After a long day of driving, I pull into the first hotel I see that looks like it is in my budget.)

Me: “Hi, I’d like a room for tonight?”

Worker: “Okay, I need your ID and a credit card to put you in the system.”

Me: “Sounds good.”

(I handed over my driver license and credit card. The worker stares at my ID for a moment and says:)

Worker: “Utah? Where is Utah?”

Me: “It’s a state? Further west of here?”

Worker: “I’ve never heard of Utah before.”

Me: “I promise you, it’s a state in the USA and that’s a real driver license.”

(He takes my ID and credit card to a back room where I see him talk frantically to another employee for about five minutes. I am exhausted, so I lean against the counter and wait.)

Worker: “I’m sorry; your credit card is no good. The charge won’t go through.”

Me: “What? Are you sure? Can you try running it again? I know there is more than enough money left on it for a room tonight.”

(He took my card and went back to that room for a moment.)

Worker: “I’m sorry; your card isn’t any good. You can’t stay here tonight.”

(I left the hotel and went to another place down the road. The worker at that desk knew where Utah was, saw how tired I was, heard my story, and reserved me a room. He then told me that he wouldn’t let me check in until I took a coupon from their lobby, got myself a hot meal (using the coupon), and gave me a killer discount! A few days later, after settling into my new home, I checked my bank account. The first hotel had charged me as a no call, no show and their corporate office refused to believe that I had shown up and been turned away. It took a lot of arguing to get them to refund me the money for that night.)


You Have It All In Español

| USA | Coworkers, Language & Words

(I used to work as a front desk clerk in a hotel before switching to housekeeping. My coworkers hate their jobs, but I prefer it rather than dealing with crazy, demanding customers. I’m also bilingual, and this conversation is in Spanish.)

Coworker: “Why would you want to work as a housekeeper? You know English very well! This country discriminates against us Spanish speakers. If you don’t know English here, you can forget about getting a good job.”

Me: “Because I like this job.”

Coworker: “But why? If I knew English well, I’d be out of here so fast…”

Me: “Doing what?”

Coworker: “Huh?”

Me: “What kind of job would you do once you know English?”

Coworker: “I don’t know… A bank teller, I guess…”

(I tried to tell her how crazy the customers are, but she ignored me and demanded I teach her English! If she only knew…the grass as always greener on the other side, I suppose.)


A Race To Prove A Point

| NB, Canada | NB, Canada | Bigotry, Bosses & Owners, Job Seekers, New Hires

(I am the front desk manager at a hotel. It is important to note that I am a First Nations individual and I live on a First Nation reservation. It recently became necessary to hire a new front desk agent and since I had a number of resumes on file already, I chose to go through those before posting a new ad for the position. I call up all the qualified applicants and schedule interviews and finally decide on a potential candidate. Before I can offer him the position, my boss calls me into her office.)

Boss: “I think we need to have a talk.”

Me: “Okay, about what?”

Boss: “About you racially profiling potential applicants.”

Me: “Excuse me? Where is this coming from?”

Boss: “I went through your files and based on what I’m seeing, you only invited people with white sounding names in for interviews. The people with Middle Eastern or African sounding names were not called. You do realize this is a very serious offense? As in, grounds for immediate termination?”

Me: “Woah, hang on now. Where is this coming from? What makes you think I didn’t call them for interviews?”

Boss: “Well, I found your interview schedule and compared it to the resumes on file. Not one of these Middle Eastern or African people was scheduled. What else could that mean?”

Me: “Okay, first of all if you look at the notes attached to the resumes, you would see that I did call these people. The majority of them didn’t answer their phones and didn’t have voice mail and you can see here—“ *I point to a note on one of the resumes* “—I called at least three times, I even marked the date and time of each call. This one here wasn’t qualified, and this one has an address in Dubai and his number is international. It was an email resume and it was probably submitted by mistake. I can’t very well hire an individual who lives on another continent, can I?”

Boss: “Well, it still seems a little fishy to me. You never hire people of color and you seem to be geared towards white-only applicants. I think you might be racist.”

Me: “Are you being serious with me? First of all, I myself am a minority. I’m Native, remember? I’ve been the victim of racism myself here at work and elsewhere. You know that. Second of all, we live in a tiny mountain town in the middle of nowhere! 80% of the population is white! I can’t very well hire people of color if they don’t live here and don’t apply. Third, two of the people I interviewed were of color, one was even Asian and you told me I couldn’t consider him because none of our customers would be able to understand him due to his accent, so I don’t feel that your accusations are valid at all. I am very offended right now. Finally, you are the one assuming that these people are Middle Eastern or African based on their names, not me. I’m not the one racially profiling here.”

Boss: “Okay, okay, so maybe I jumped the gun a little bit here but you know I have to look out for the company. We can’t have rumors of racism running around the town. Listen, this guy here looks really good. Why don’t we hire him?”

Me: “Oh, no… I’m not even considering this guy.”

Boss: “And may I ask why not?”

Me: “Well, for starters he showed up to apply with one of his friends. They were sweaty and smelly from playing soccer and he didn’t even think to bring his resume. That right there tells me that he does not have common sense and is not very professional. Second, he barely speaks French and doesn’t speak a word of English. His accent is so thick that I could barely understand him in French and since the system and all our paperwork is in English he wouldn’t be able to even get his work done. So no, he is not a valid candidate.”

Boss: “See, this is what I mean; you are racist. He’s obviously black based on his last name and he has a bit of an accent so you don’t want to hire him. I am very disappointed in you; I’m considering this a verbal warning. You need to change your attitude and I think I might even look into sending you for sensitivity training.”

Me: “Okay, well, if that’s how you feel, do what you have to do.”

(The following day I am off when I get a text from my boss.)

Text: “I’ve just called [Applicant] and his accent is not nearly as bad as you let on. I think he is wonderful and I’ve offered him a position. He starts tomorrow.”

(I am a little annoyed and very skeptical about how well this new hire will work out. After exchanging a number of texts with my boss I determine that she has only hired him to work four nights per week, doing the night audit shift. She figures if he doesn’t have to serve customers his language skills won’t be an issue. I decided to pick my battles and let this one go. Fast forward three weeks. I have had nothing but trouble with this employee but I decide not to rub it in my boss’ face. This particular week I am off on vacation. My boss calls me at home near the end of my week. She has been covering for me at the front desk all week.)

Boss: “We need to talk seriously about [Applicant].”

Me: “Oh? What’s the problem?”

Boss: “He’s un-trainable! And miserable at that.”

Me: “Really? Why, whatever do you mean? I thought you said he was wonderful.”

Boss: “I can’t work with this guy! For one thing he doesn’t shower so he stinks and always has his friends coming in to see him. I come in at seven and he’s grumpy and ready to run out the door before I have my coat off. He never follows instructions, he forgets to do half of his job every night, and I’ve gotten a number of complaints from customers that he can’t understand them and isn’t able to fulfill their requests and that they can’t understand him. This morning [Best Client] and [Second Best Client] missed their train to work because he couldn’t understand their simple requests for a wake up call. They’re threatening to take their business elsewhere if we don’t replace him or teach him English. And on top of all that I have to keep re-teaching him things and each time it’s as though he’s learning it for the first time. He’s got no common sense… I could go on and on but I’m just so frustrated. I don’t know what to do.”

Me: “Well, for starters maybe next time you could learn to trust my judgment. You did put me in charge of managing the front desk staff. There had to be a reason for that.”

Boss: “Well, why didn’t you tell me not to hire him in the first place?”

Me: “…Really?”

(We ended up scheduling him for more training but it was a lost cause. This guy simply could not read the information on the screen and had no desire to do anything beyond receive a paycheck. He was so seriously unmotivated, we ended up letting him go. The guy I hired to replace him? He was Asian and was more than qualified. My boss never accused me of racial profiling again.)

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