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Wednesday June 29, 2022

Hello, Room Service?

courtesy pixabay

At one corner of the kitchen, a glass cubicle is always in action. The door of the cubicle has a latch which one has to pull to open and once you enter the cubicle, it closes automatically. This has nothing to do with privacy of the room- it is to ensure, the guests of the hotel don’t get panic stricken overhearing the language and the noise floating around in the kitchen.

The backdrop of the cubicle comprises a white board which features the house-count of the hotel — how many guests are in-house, the room numbers of the VIPs. This board is updated every two hours. Right in front of the white board is a long bench for the waiters to sit- to ensure that one doesn’t have to go hunting for them during peak hours. In between the glass partition and the wall is a chair for the order-taker and a long desk where two imported phones with speaker and CLI stand tall. Just in front of the phone a KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) book lies lazily only to get into action whenever the phone rings and an order arrives. One copy of the KOT is immediately handed over to the chef on duty for execution of food orders, one copy is handed over to the waiter who would carry the food to the guest room so that he doesn’t make any mistake while collecting the order from the kitchen and one copy is referred to while preparing the bill which the waiter would carry. This is the Room Service mechanism of the hotel.

During his initial days at the hotel, Nabin Chatterjee was posted in the coffee shop when waiters complained about his unusual habit of twitching his neck repeatedly. One day, Chatterjee was reprimanded by an international guest for serving him a wrong dish. Nabin, after going back to his work station started twitching his head. Seeing that, the guest was terrified thinking Nabin is practising some sort of black magic and started running around the lobby yelling for help.

The General Manager rushed out to take control of the situation, called Nabin to his office and warned that he would lose his job if cannot overcome this habit. The next day Nabin came back with a medical certificate which stated that he had a problem of stiff neck. To draw sympathy and to save his job, Nabin further informed the manager that he had suffered from a near fatal disease in his childhood and survived by the grace of Pachu Thakur, a local deity of Bengal. This twitching of head is a reminiscence and residue of his childhood illness. The Manager of course couldn’t make head or tail of it, but took two decisions immediately- transferred Nabin to room service as an order taker and started calling Nabin by the name Pachu. Since then, the name ‘Nabin’ gradually disappeared into oblivion and Pachu/Pachu Babu/Pachu Chatterjee replaced it.

A guest was drinking in his room and had ordered for Gold Flake cigarettes. Pachu, while taking the order had twitched his head and sent corn flakes instead as he could hear only the last part of the order.

Room Service order-taker Pachu Chatterjee was very sensitive about two things — his chair and his name. He took major offense if someone sat on his favourite chair while he was on duty and he desperately tried to save the name which features in his testimonials. During the shift of the other order-takers, one had to run around to look for the waiter in waiting. However, there were always at least two waiters on the bench keeping close a watch on Pachu while he took food orders sitting on his throne. From time-to-time these waiters insisted that Pachu used the speaker on the phone so that they can also hear what the guest is ordering for. But since that was hurtful to Pachu’s ego, he never paid any heed to their requests.

Finally, the apprehension that kept the waiters on their toes came true. One day, a waiter came fuming. He slammed the bill folder on the table and started yelling at Pachu. People rushed in to rescue Pachu Chatterjee from the wrath of the waiter but all stood dumbfounded when they came to know the reason behind the rage. A guest who was drinking in his room had ordered for Gold Flake cigarettes. Pachu, while taking the order had twitched his head and sent corn flakes instead, as he could only hear the last part of the order. The guest threw the milk on the floor, abused the waiter and yelled his frustration out at the lobby manager on duty.

The waiters jointly complained against Pachu Chatterjee and it was revealed that this was not his first fiasco. Earlier, there had been an instance when a guest ordered for tea and milk but only milk had reached the room and not the tea. A guest ordered for Dal Makhni with lots of coriander leaves and received only coriander leaves but no dal. on both occasions, the waiter on duty handled the situation as the guests were sober and Pachu Chatterjee pleaded with the waiters and bribed them with cigarettes and a pint to save his job. However, this time it was a case of cornflakes been served to a drunk guest!

To redress the grievance of the waiters, the management immediately deputed Dallas Morgan, a new joinee with experience of working in another reputed hotel in the city in room service. Pachu Chatterjee was transferred to night shift where there were hardly any orders except for arranging fruit baskets for VIPs and sending the bed tea in the morning- which too was monitored by the reception desk. Alam was handling the morning shift where there were heavy orders for breakfast on weekdays and lunch on weekends. Dallas was given responsibility of managing the evening shift which was more delicate as it involved drinks and dinner.

Days sailed through and everything was fine until one day when the General Manager, F&B Manager and few other senior officials were seen rushing into the room service cubicle. A VIP guest- a friend of the General Manager and a business magnate had thrown a party in his room for which he had invited a few guests which included the General Manager, and placed an elaborate food order. However, only rice, roti, salad and papad were served without a single main-course. Embarrassed, the General Manager came down to the office of the F&B Manager and together they came to probe the reason for the delay and came to know that no orders were placed for the main-coursel! When they asked Dallas the reason, he replied nonchalantly, “what to do! The order was so exhaustive, there was no space left in the KOT!”

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