Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bedlam 10/08/09

It is about 40 degrees. I am melting. This is not the time for work, it is the time for being on holiday. This time last year we were staying with friends in the south east of Sicily at Pachino and we went to the beautiful white sand beach. We went to the Isola delle Correnti, beautiful white sand beaches where the water splits between the Ionian and the Mediterranean sea with a rocky formation in the divide where the lighthouse used to be. Later we went to the beach of San Lorenzo for aperitivo at sunset and the falò (bonfires) for the night of San Lorenzo. The bonfires lined the whole beach with group of friends standing round them, some singing with guitars, some drinking, others just lying back watching out for shooting stars.

And this year? Staff troubles at the height of the season!

Our cameriera announced ten days ago that she would not be here for the weekend of 7, 8 and 9 August. We were annoyed and said so, because it is one of the busiest times of year and we had no one to replace her with experience of working with us. She immediately blamed the ex-waiter (the boozer) and my husband’s sister (who is also abandoning us to be on holiday with her boyfriend – a luxury permitted to family staff). I didn’t know she was taking holidays and he wasn’t going to be here, she said. I said they did not come into it, that she had an obligation with us to work, we had hired her with a contract and couldn’t risk not having her at that busy time. She had all her excuses prepared; ie., she wasn’t asking she was telling …. How can that be? Anyway, she said she was going, she had to have a break, if she didn’t go now when would she be able to have a break ?(in a few weeks, in September …). So I asked my friend Georgia to do those nights and luckily she was available. But when she came by to check things, Madame cameriera said her back hurt so there was no point in going camping. I said but if your back hurts you probably need a break anyway. But my friend felt she was nicking her work, and said it was no problem for her not to work. Then on Friday Madame simply didn’t show up. No sign at 8pm so mio marito called her. Didn’t you get my message, she said? I’m camping - on holidays. Mio marito was raging. You don’t communicate such important info by sms. You need to check that I have received the message. And you don’t decide at 4pm (which is when she says she sent the message) that you aren’t going to work. We don't want to see her again, but it will be very hard to get a replacement at this point. He then texted her yesterday to confirm that she would be on from Monday, and she replied - can I not have my time off like everyone else? Don’t know what that meant, possibly a dig at the sister.

Friday was bedlam with just me and il cameriere in sala and no waitress. In the middle of all, our ice machine wasn’t working, and the ice we had got simply wasn’t enough. With all the cocktails and especially the mojitos we ran out and it was only midnight, so I was sent off to get ice. I asked the bass player to come with me for the company, but then he kindly carried the ice back, because it was so heavy. My feet were aching. We had to go to two places, it is really awkward asking for it; but we will give it back for sure. This is how it is.

The lavapiati (dishwasher) is still off, for our two busiest weekends. We tried out a dodgy neighbour in need of work, tall and thin as a stick and white as chalk despite the sun. But he was utterly useless and I caught him outside smoking while mia suocera was tucking into the dishes. Err what ? I said and she said he was no good and smiled. He said nothing but asked for his pay for the two nights and left. He simply didn’t show on Saturday night without telling us, and there was bedlam. Just the aiuto cuoco and mia suocera in the kitchen (since the cuoca is still looking after her mother) and there were loads of tables, several tables had second sittings and with no dishwasher, the dishes mounted up. Mio marito was washing dishes and sorting the orders because the aiuto cuoco messed up the two big tables that came in of course. He forgot the end of the tapas orders and got the tables mixed up and sent a paella out before the tapas mixtas (antipasto) … what a nightmare. Mio marito can’t stand him any more. The salmorejo was soso (lacking salt) and I told him to taste it and add more garlic but instead he added more vinegar so it tasted like pee. And he shoves on the prosciutto with all the fat on to garnish it, it looks most unapetising. So i have told him to not bother putting the ham on top. Garnishes not his speciality. The hummous still tastes of nothing and at last I discovered he has been putting double the amount of chickpeas for the rest of the lemon juice, garlic and tahini… aggghhh. I had ravioli with two friends who came to dine on Sunday night and they were hard. How can he not even get the pasta right? I have told him to put in extra ravioli to taste them.

Last night a semifreddo was served with a worm in it, a worm that had got into the nuts. A worm. How depressing. I was so shocked I just laughed. If the aiuto cuoco had made the fruit sauce like I had asked him to, this wouldn’t have happened. The Tupperware wasn’t closed tightly. I can’t stand it. The biscuits were left out too, and not closed properly. He hasn’t a clue. We would sack him immediately if we had someone else. It is agony not being confident at this point that the food will be good. I can’t go over to tables to see how they are getting on, I am too afraid of a complaint. A huge stress.

Today mio marito got overexcited again since I didn’t want to got to the trendy beach with all his mates, accusing me of not wanting to hang out with his friends. After the weekend we have just had, all I want is a spot on the beach with no one I know, my book and the sun shade. I have spent the entire weekend with his friends and family, a joke and a word for everyone, chatting here and there, looking after them when they come to the bar. Talking to them about their jobs and lives away from here, and what it is like for us here. What more can he want? Aggghhh I cannot wait till this endless summer is over. The heat is driving everyone to distraction.

Lola

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