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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

This may upset minority groups.

NB:I like children,I have a few of my own.
Ive been noticing lately that people are becoming very intolerant.
We seem to have had an influx of militant mothers.Mothers who expect the same facilities within a pub environment as would be enjoyed at Jungle Jacks Wacky world of fun..
Increasingly parents are bringing oversized pushchairs into the pub expecting there to be adequate parking spots beside the table.Last Sunday a group arrived with several small children.One of whom was in a mahoosive pushchair with inflatable wheels.In the light of recent issues with similar contraptions Id already briefed the staff to tell people that we welcome children but don't have space for pushchairs.This was explained but the couple were particularly determined saying the child was sleeping and taking the carrier off the wheels would wake him(God Forbid).The pushchair was wheeled up one set of steps,through a very busy bar then down another to access the table.The gent on the adjacent table was eating his dinner and had to stand up so that the complicated three point turn parking manoeuvre could be achieved.I'll be surprised if he wasn't annoyed effectively blocked in his own private parking space behind the table.
Im sure this will fit.

A couple of minutes later news filtered back to the kitchen that the older children were playing on games consoles with the music on a high volume.I went out to assess the situation on pretext of fetching a bottle of red.Parent or not,nobody wants to sit eating their Sunday lunch with a background riff of 'Old Macdonald had a farm' playing on a continuous loop.Its a sorry state of affairs when a 23 year old student has to tell a 'responsible' parent that the music might in fact not be to the taste of the other diners.'If they want to bring their electronic child minders with them at least have the decency to fit them with farking headphones' said Chef intuitively.
Shockingly,we don't have a baby change facility within our loos.This isn't because we want to discourage families,its because there is no space in the toilet to install one.Lately this seems to be a major problem.When we explain the non existence of this facility,some mothers look at you with disgust and on one occasion a mother actually said to me 'you are joking aren't you?' then in an act of obvious protestation proceeded the change her baby on the floor of the dining room with other people around her troughing on their roast dinners..and don't think this is a one off.It may surprise you to hear that we've had soiled nappies tied up in bags and left under tables also.
Similarly our disabled facilities aren't good.Actually they are poor to non existent,but given that the building is on the side of a hill with steep steps down from the car park and all areas on different levels,theres not a lot we can do about it other than demolish.Often people ring ahead and ask about wheelchair accessibility.We have to tell them that access is difficult but possible for anyone determined enough to try.With four steps down into the ladies loo you ight want to limit your liquid intake though..Some people approach this as a challenge,so surprisingly we often welcome visitors in wheelchairs.
Last week a couple came for lunch,the chap in a wheelchair.Unaided he got his chair up into the raised dining area but as it happened the table was too low for him to get his legs comfortably underneath.They decided to sit at a bar table next to the fire.There was an almighty thud as the wheelchair descended the step back down to the bar at a much higher speed than he intended.The front wheels of the chair were wedged firmly against the bar with the back wheels tightly up against the step.He shuffled in the seat,then looked over at his girlfriend."Im stuck' he said.I was behind the bar effectively stuck also with no means of exit other then over the bar top,which was thankfully an option. The Cynical One looked over at me with her 'what shall i do face'.I glanced at the girlfriend,she nodded encouragingly and sat calmly allowing him the chance to extricate himself.I was superglued to the spot not sure what to do.I asked him if he wanted any help.'No' (much shuffling) 'if I can just manage to get a grip'..The bar shuddered as the weight of the chair was forced back and forth in a effort to free the wheels.Eventually he managed to flip the front wheels up and get some purchase on the back,freeing himself. 'Im out!' he shouted triumphantly over to the girlfriend who beamed back at him, then at me.The Cynical One( in direct contravention of her name and repuation) was nearly in tears.

So I was thinking about able bodied people and how they expect every need to be catered for on their own terms with the onus on other people(ie us) to take responsibility for them and yet others who face massive challenges every day can approach the whole thing with refreshing optimism,taking responsibility for and mostly sorting themselves out.
Some disabilities however,aren't immediately obvious.I recently employed someone with OCD. Ive joked on occasion that I have OCD as Im quite manic about hygiene and people breathing on edibles,but actual OCD is an altogether different  challenge and one I don't really understand fully.
I wasn't aware that this lad had the condition,but it became obvious fairly quickly.Its very inhibiting,even debilitating when every action you take is governed by rules and order.For example a fresh task cant be started until another is fully completed. Flexibility and prioritisation are not in the vocabulary of the average OCD sufferer.Just imagine you're restocking the fridge or polishing a tray of glasses and a customer walks in to the bar expecting a drink and you'll probably get the picture.
Sadly they won't.
Frustratingly,this particular individuals' OCD also manifests itself in the unusual act of repeating back instructions or information three times.So a simple sentence can be a long and excruciatingly drawn out exchange.
Heres an example:
'Can you clear table 3 please'
'You want me to clear table 3?'
'Yes table 3'
'You want me to clear table 3 now?'
'Yes clear table 3 now'(or sometimes i might cut short the repeat by saying at this point 'Its ok I'll do it', which pleasingly confuses the hell out of him..'
'Ok ill clear table 3 now then'
As you can see this can be at best inconvenient and worst damned annoying.Last Saturday this unfortunate routine wreaked havoc.
I was over by the bar and noticed an altercation kicking off next to the till.A diner was quite clearly irate and having a go at OCD lad.I dashed over.
'CAN YOU TELL ME IS IT PROTOCOL IN THIS PLACE TO BRING OVER A BILL BEFORE THE CUSTOMER HAS ASKED FOR IT?'
'No its not' I say, 'Im sorry that happened..its not protocol to do that'
Then addressing the lad in question:
'Did you not see my niece was in floods of tears when you approached the table to give me the bill?'
Well.You can imagine what happened next.
He repeated the statement back to the guy who then repeated back in the style of the above example.
HE MADE HIM REPEAT THE STATEMENT THREE TIMES with each repeat giving further weight and distress to the fact that the niece was crying.
When the third and final repetition was completed and closure achieved,OCD boy let out an involuntary nervous giggle of satisfaction.
At which point the situation escalated,the diner giving full vent to his fury: 'and now you're laughing at me...you didn't even speak to us when we came in you didn't even lift your head just kept on pouring those drinks at the bar and ignored us'
I intervened.'Look Im really sorry this has happened,but there was no intent to upset you, I apologise for the service today which has clearly been unacceptable'
The chap stormed off back to the table.He was fizzing,I followed him and apologised again.I even tried to butter him up with a free meal,which he didn't take up.

Much later I asked why the bill had been taken over when it hadn't been requested.
'Well I saw him get his wallet out of his pocket'
'You saw him get his wallet out of his pocket?'
'Yes I saw him get his wallet out so I presumed he wanted the bill'
'You saw him get his wallet out so you presumed he wanted the bill????'
'Yes he got his wallet out so I got the bill ready and took it over'(volume increasing)

'Its annoying isn't it?'
'What is"
'When someone makes you repeat back information that you've clearly already heard'
'Well...yes I suppose it is'
'Can you stop doing it'
'Can I stop doing it?"

Deafening silence and an ever so slowly and ironically raised eyebrow.

'C.....Ill try'
'Good'





8 comments:

Wally B said...

The niece was crying because they got the bill early? She'd die over here from dehydration.

Liz said...

That is one of the funniest blog posts Ive read in ages - I was almost crying with laughter................ On a bitingly cold, grey day I needed that!
Cheers
Liz

Northern Snippet said...

LIz-really? I thought it a bit sad..

Steve Ellwood said...

Days gone by I worked in a bar which was clearly shown as "No children". We had an outside conservatory and a family bar.

Patron comes in carrying infant. Stand child on bar! who then reaches up pushing a glass off the high shelf.

I dived across, catching the glass.

"Well caught. That could have been a problem if it had broken and cut him"

I said it would only have been a problem as he couldn't bloody read, and told him to take his child to safety while I cleaned the bar from the filth he'd put on it.

Oddly enough, he did, and then came back to complain to the manager. Who suggested he left to find somewhere they allowed children to dance on the bar...

kitchen princess said...

Some people are so selfish, the giant buggy situation and nappy changing in the middle of a restaurant would have made me so cross. It would be enough to put me off ever going back to a place.

Expat mum said...

You pack so much into one post I can never pick anything to comment on. So I won't, but thanks for the laugh!

Expat mum said...

Oh I know.... I was going to tell you about some bars and cafes here (USA) that have a sign in the window
"Unruly children will be given a free espresso and a puppy".

Alison Cross said...

oh deary, deary me. I swear to God, I don't know how you do it.

If it's a DS console, I know the little lovelies can play it with the sound down if they don't have headphones with them.

I cannot believe that people would change their baby's nappy in the middle of the dining room either. I've changed my son's nappy on a cistern in the ladies before. And also gone out to do it in the back seat of the car. Change a nappy.

I got a bit choked with the wheelchair story for sure.

Ali x

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