Monday 28 March 2016

Bye Bye Hosp(Bru)tality

Just over two weeks ago, HC JL Edinburgh served its last coffee - due to redevelopment of the St James centre, our cafe/store was forced to close. 

This wasn’t news to us as we had known for a few months prior, but a level of denial, until we actually closed our doors, was definitely present. 

Our closure also drew to an end my career in hospitality (for now). 

Working for HC was probably the job I hated least during my 7 years in hospitality (apart from my time at Tipsy). This was partly due to the company being pretty decent but mostly because of the people. It’s funny how complete strangers can form a family in a very short space of time, but that was exactly what happened. 

Looking back I probably made thousands of coffees and hot chocolates, 100’s of sandwiches, cried a handful times and answered the phone countless times. 

Another thing that has become increasingly obvious as the years have gone by is that people who do not work in hospitality or retail, and never have, have absolutely no idea just how hard it can be. 

I remember working a job, where I would work for 10/11 hours a day, constantly on my feet, without a break, food, or even the ability to take 60 seconds to go pee. I wish I was exaggerating. 

I would go home and my feet would ache. 

My social life was non-existent (I was 19) because you were so physically exhausted and worn out that you had no energy left. 

I’ve worked with numerous chest infections because of staffing issues - that’s another thing; 

People really do not get that sometimes, no matter how well you plan, how great the management       is (or isn’t), no amount of rota planning and scheduling, you have to work, simply because you           have no other choice. 

It takes 90 seconds to make a coffee. 

You’ll get it in that time if you’re the first or only customer in line. 

Otherwise you will have to wait. 


Simple as that. 

Even chain coffee houses such as Starbucks, cannot beat that - so if you walk in and have to wait in a queue of 10 people, please remember that the barista has a minimum of 10 drinks to make, before even getting to yours. They’re already working as fast as they can, give them a break. 

If you’re rude and complain, you’re quite honestly wasting your time - it’s not gonna make it come any quicker. 

Don’t click your fingers at a server, not ever. That includes bar staff, waiting staff, retail staff or workers at a counter. It is so unbelievable rude and they will ignore you. 

You can lean over the bar as much as you want, you’ll be served in order (first come, first served is as standard a rule in hospitality as you can get). 

Most importantly - don’t be a dick. You’ve got no idea what the person that is serving you is dealing with. 

A rule that I keep - and I’m sure everybody in this kind of work wishes you all did - is to remember that the person serving you, is, in fact, just that - a person. 

And don’t dare think that they are any less of a person than you because they work in hospitality or retail; 

Most people I’ve encountered in this line of work are students, travellers, degree holders,                   second job holders, hard-fucking-workers, and people who are committed to doing they're job             well - don’t treat them like they're stupid. 

Despite all the negatives that come with hospitality, I can safely say that is had had a great deal to do with making me, me. 

The skills I’ve learned are unbound and beyond value, patience and the ability to hold my tongue, among them. 

It has taught me leadership, understanding, team work, perseverance, dedication, speed, accuracy, time management, loyalty, helpfulness and above all how to approach a task, do it, do it well, and work as hard as you can. A job half done is the worst. 

Hospitality has also shown me the good side of people (not just the bad). Both staff and customers; 

I’ve seen people fall in love (and out), I’ve seen them protect and help total strangers, I’ve seen         work colleagues gather together in tragedy, death and attempted death. I’ve seen arguments that           have bound people together in the strongest of friendships. And above all I’ve seen laughter                 and joy. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is enough to restore you’re faith in humanity. 

As Humans, we somehow allow the negatives to outweigh and over-whelm the positives - allow that one rude comment to ruin our day. But I think that I’ll try to remember hospitality for all its good. 

It’s brought me some of the best and strongest friendships, a godson, and my HC family - for that I will always be grateful. 

It was an exceptionally odd moment to make my last coffee, take off my apron for the last time, last week as I finished up some cover shifts at the HC Fredrick Street store. 

When you’ve done something so time consuming and so intense for a long time, it is a very odd feeling for it to come to an end. 

It has been one hell of a ride, and despite all the times I’ve despised it, I wouldn’t change the past 7 years in hospitality. It had allowed me to live in foreign countries, to travel, to meet new people, and learn lessons that have made me who I am. 

Every single person I’ve met and worked with has had an impact. 

Moving forward, time will only tell what happens next. But for right now, it’s time to see what I can do with my favourite thing - words. 

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