Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Back to my winter adventure, or more aptly put, my winter journey of discovery.  

I’ve been aware for a while that I haven’t written and it’s gotten me thinking  as to why I haven’t had the inspiration to do so.  To date, there is no one specific cause, but a series of causes and reasons that have reduced my motivation to put pen to paper (so to speak).  

For the last month or so, I’ve been working six full days a week, plus a good hour and a half, two hours, journey time on top every day.  It’s not enormous, and I’ve worked much harder and longer hours than that in the past, but it seems to be taking it’s toll this year.  

Snow from my apartment window

The evenings are altogether more calm, only overnight guests stay on, they all eat the same meal at the same time and tend to be quite self contained.  Evenings reminiscent of the Lou Rider days for me, with people sitting round playing cards or games together.  Lacking, here, though, is the relaxing crackle of an open log fire and the possibility to recline on a comfortable sofa after a day on the slopes.  The ambiance remains one of a self service restaurant trying to be a mountain refuge by night.   

Staff planning has to take into account the fact that we might be busy, it’s too late at 12:30 to call in reinforcements as it takes a good hour to get there from the nearest village, so a full team has to be in place for the start of lunchtime service.  If it’s busy, fine, everyone works flat out, rather too factory like in some respects, but fast and efficiently, to ensure that anyone that arrives is served appropriately and that after they leave, the whole place is clean and tidy before the day team leave on the last chair lift.  When it’s quiet, however, not only is the whole team geared up to work flat out, there is very little ancillary work that can be done to fill the time.  If it’s reasonably busy time passes relatively fast, but the fewer the diners, the slower the day passes, when there is almost no one, time drags like eternity and the tiredness sets in.  A huge amount of psychological and physical energy is invested in the expectation and preparation for a busy day, the deflation is imminently notable when it doesn’t happen.  

For me, with years of retail experience and the fact that I have adapted to so many different situations during my travels, I don’t find the fluctuations too difficult to deal with.  Unfortunately for a few of the others, their tolerance for  the impressive changes in workload is somewhat lacking and the ability to change speed relating to work load incredibly difficult to deal with.  It becomes wearing none the less.

Personally, my journey of discovery, continues with my likes, dislikes and preferences in such situations.  For the future I would pay more attention finding a workplace that allows time for personal contact with clients/customers.  Perhaps a restaurant, or hotel with live in accommodation.  Somewhere with a bit more continuity within work tasks and the chance to take a bit more responsibility.  Here, we jump from task to task, from day to day, with no continuity, filling in where needed and where necessary - it’s how seasonal work works I guess, yet it could be more fulfilling.

I frequently have ideas and try to share my skills in customer service and retail management here.   On occasion my suggestions are well received and implemented, but I find that the underlying attitude to customers and how they are viewed by retail and service providers remains markedly different between our two countries.

The Refuge where I work. Now with snow

I now have huge respect for those people who work tirelessly behind the scenes of self service restaurants year in year out, for the effort they put in to producing the food that (some of them) serve, all ours is produced on the premises.  Mostly these workers don’t get to see the people they feed, let alone converse with them, and as a customer, I have never given that much thought to what goes on behind those stainless steel and glass counters that one encounters all over the place.  If it’s good food, well presented, compliments due.

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