Working in a hotel prepares you for anything life will throw at you

Towel origami is an art form in itself

I’ve had a lot of awful summer jobs. I’ve worked in a burrito place (paid in cash, beside a gym, lots of angry body-builders shouting at me over using the wrong beans), a jewellery shop (I frequently stabbed myself with the backs of earrings and everyone else who worked there was inexhaustibly bitchy), and as one of those people who hands out promotional flyers on a high street (if you strategically stash them in different bins you still get paid). But without a doubt, the worst was the almost-a-year spent working in a hotel.

I was 15, skint, bored, and unprepared for the physical and emotional shit-show that is working in hospitality. But looking back, it taught me a lot about life, people, and how to fold towels really really nicely. 

It’s genuinely not the server’s fault if the food is shit 

Hi, I am a waitress. I’m here to take your order, smile, and make sure you have a nice time. I’m spending most of my evening trying not to scald myself with soups and drop the cutlery on your lap, and I’m doing pretty well so far on that front to be honest. If I fucked up in serving the food, that would be my fault. 

Here are some things which are not my fault: The fact that there are no tables near the window (it’s busy), the fact that your lasagne isn’t made the way mama does (it’s less than a tenner, of course it’s frozen), the fact that everything isn’t gluten free (this is real food, and you’re not even allergic), the fact that we have run out of fish cakes (it’s 10 minutes before closing, they’re popular, and I wanna go home). 

It’s your server’s job to smile through your complaints about food they didn’t make, and to take it back to the kitchen to deal with angry chefs shouting at them for complaints they didn’t make. Then they clean it all up at the end of the night, still smiling, and split up awful tips between everyone else. 

So don’t be a dick, and always tip. 

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None of this was my responsibility

Oh yeah, and hotel guests do not tip well

A check out – cleaning the entire room from top to bottom for the next guest – can take like 45 minutes. A stay over – where you’re just tidying up while they’re out shopping for the day, can still take like 20. They both involve cleaning grimy showers, changing the bedsheets – it’s a seriously physical job – changing your bins and mini bar (why are they never embarrassed about how quickly they go through it?), and sometimes, dealing with your passive aggressive notes: “More (clean!!) towels please!”. But you know what, I guess it’s just all worth it, because on top of the TV you’ve left on after watching “MILF paradise part 4”, you’ve left me 50p. Great, tonight I dine in paradise.

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Look what I did for you, and this is how you repay me

You probably shouldn’t be naked so much in hotel rooms

Picture the scene. It’s 2am, I’m 16, someone has ordered molten chocolate lava cake to their room. It’s pretty obvious they’re going to be naked, but regardless, seeing someone standing naked – totally flaccid by the way, thankfully they were always flaccid – in the door frame as you hand them a dessert is not the best way to end a 12-hour shift. He didn’t even tip, obviously. 

It is possible to work through a hangover – but it’s fucking awful

Nowadays, getting up for 9am for work when you went to bed at 4am is pretty hard. You’re dehydrated and you’ve had three maple pecan plaits from Sainsbury’s and the Tube is so, so hot. But if you hardened yourself through years of 6am starts and Dickensian workloads, nowadays putting on your headphones and slinking out to vom in the loos at 11am isn’t that bad. At least in a cosy office you don’t have to worry about banging plates, the overpowering stench of cleaning products and dealing with anyone’s vomit but, inevitably, your own. 

We laugh – and cry – about the bodily fluids you leave in our rooms 

It’s not even always sperm. But it’s mostly sperm. 

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Moisturising is so, so important

Cleaning products will fuck up your hands. A lot. They get caught under your nails and make your skin crack – and if it’s not that that’s fucking up your skin it’s the constant hand washing from contact with the aforementioned bodily fluids. And no matter how much cocoa butter you’ve lathered on yourself, you’ll always smell faintly of bleach. Fantastic.

The guests might be the worst people in the world, but the people you work with are (mostly) the best

You know when you work in a shit place? When the work is shit, and the money is shit, and you’re wondering what you’re there for – because you’re an angsty teenager obviously destined for better things. It’s because of the people you work with. Working in a hotel fosters a bizarre kind of intimacy. The hours are long and the gossip is intense (mostly because the guests are so fucked up), so you end up forging a strange friendship with the kind of people you would never dream of spending time with outside of work. They’re the ones who’ll teach you to stand inside the walk in fridge with your chronic hangover, older ladies who’ll make you cups of tea when a chef yells at you, teenagers just as bored as you who’ll master the art of taking endless smoke breaks without alerting management. And you’ll learn to swear in about seven different languages before you eventually quit. 

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