Monday, 6 August 2012

Everything will be fine

When you start your shift at Kipps thinking you're in control and you know exactly what's going to happen today , you d better quit and go work at the Premier Inn.

At Kipps, if you don't welcome the unexpected , you will have a long , long day.

Unexpected : events that you cannot control or fix. It's usually for the worse.
I have the Sunday morning shift. Starts at 7 something , and by the time you finish
 at 4 you are a new person.
I hadn't had it for a while so I had some sort of expectations.
7.30 I finally look at my peanut butter toast and coffee and thought '' I deserve you''
I woke up at 5.20 , wrote my last blog post ,ran and arranged breakfast for guests. I had the golden 30 minutes in front me. Between the moment you arrive and the moment the first guests rush in for breakfast. You expect peace.
Sunday morning they either wake up at 7 or they don't at all , you have to kick them out of their room at 11am.
Today? They ALL woke up at 7am .
I'm in the kitchen explaining the breakfast times in Italian English , thinking bout my peanut butter sandwich that I did not have.

'' Eight O'cloooock. Ochoooo'' .

Shit it is Spanish?

And mama was up too. That? Not good news. It usually starts with : you know what happened night

'' You know what happened last night?'' she starts.

Oh dear.

I let go of the italians. I was now worried.

Last night 1 am

Mama '' you can't smoke in the garden it is closed''

Drunk Australian female guest '' I am not receiving orders from f**** Europeans , don't look at me like this Ass hole, to Muscular Romanian receptionnist.

15 minutes and some insults later, Aussie guest and kiwi boyfriend were deported to the street by immigration mamma.

They could hear her on the street. '' F***** foreigners!''

Australians in Australia : angels

You expect the same from them anywhere else in the world.

Australians in Europe ? mmmmm

Flashback Kipps Brighton a few months ago
Aussie guests : I'm sorry for bringing a girl back into the dorm , I was drunk and unaware. I will not do it again.

Me : yeah right. I've heard that before. The next thing they usually say is '' I'm here for a good time mate, not for a long time''

See what Europe is doing to people? They probably did not expect it to be like this either...

Conclusion : Wanna see aussies who are thinking straight ...... Go to Australia.
'' Ok so they're gone right? I ask her , trying to get over the fact that I was pissed off that Mama got insulted by some random strangers.

The door bell rings , it's 7.55am . My toast is still waiting for me in the office.

'' Sorry we're late'' 2 young boys from Belgium were standing at the door.


'' We were due to check in at 6AM , so we re a bit late''

SURE! So the Premier Inn is first left and then turn right and.......

It was their first time in a backapckers. They expected to go to bed straight away. I explain calmly that other people are sleeping in their beds right now. and that check in is at 2 pm.

Big eyes staring at me :

'' So what do we do now .... Mummy ?''

I take them to the breakkast room and tell them to sit in the lounge after.

The breakfast room is now PACKED with people because left unsupervised for 15 whole minutes.

Half of the hostel rushed in and followed the Italians who could not care less about the paper that said '' Breakfast is from 8 to 10''

EIGHT. OCHO. Whatever.

The german intern, responsible for breakfast starts her shift at 8am, expecting it to be like '' Everyday'' .

'' WTF is all that?'' she asks me , her organised German side taking over.

'' Bloody italians I say. You See now why we don't like them in France? They re just EXACTLY the same as us! '' I joke. Joking is the way I cope with the unexpected. I'm such a Brit.

In reality I'm trying to convince myself. '' Everything is going to be fine Annabelle......'' . and it was just 8am.

I ask the italian group for money for breakfast .They understand what they want : NOTHING.

The woman who can speak proper English is staying in the other hotel. says the 12 year old boy with them.

Right. ME WANT MONEY. I tell them , holding my piece of toast. My coffee is going cold.

I see them going in out in out.

the 2 Belgian kids were now expecting me to tell them what to do next.

'' Where can young people like US go in Canterbury now?'' he asks me.

Add , ''you old fart'' to that and you'll get how I felt.

''On a Sunday at 9 am in Canterbury , I would say that the coolest place is .... HERE. '' I say

Like me , All they wanted to hear was '' It's all going to be fine'' But you don't say that to men. You make them FEEL that ( lesson hard learnt)

The other half of the hostel has decided to have breakfast at 8.30am.

SUNDAY. isn't it the day everyone else CHILLS OUT ?

Flashback New Year's eve 2008.
Me to boss : Do you think we can drink tonight ?
Boss : yeah , No one wakes up early on New Year's day , we can have a nice early start with coffee and that.
The next day the WHOLE hostel wanted breakfast at 7am. Forget about the coffee and take aspirin. Happy New Year , us.
Never expect anything at Kipps.
It's now 10 am I ve been running around, getting money , trying to make sure everyone is ''fine'' . My toast is still untouched.

'' We can clear breakfast now'' I announce to the intern.

'' No, Santa Claus is having breakfast''


I get in and that guy who looks like Santa was changing the world with another guest.

Conversation :

Santa : '' If I was President , beer would be free for all, and there would be women for each man''

Other guest , '' Eyes filled with admiration : I vote for you. ''

President and Prime minister were then asked to move their philosophy to the lounge.

I'm still keeping an eye on the italians , the intern now tells me that she does not know where she's sleeping tonight because she's not on the system.

'' Everything is going to be fine'' I tell her.

No, I did not expect that. All you can do is hope for the best and strive for it.

I'm doing the cleaning schedule for the day. WHAT? 4 staff? ONLY?

We had lost 2 staff members recently. They had gone back home. It's like a part of us was gone with them ( yes we all are very close) and we did not have time or space to get over the loss.

I'm now having my cold coffee. The romanian night shift comes in after a chaotic night sleep and tells me his side of the Aussie story .

I send him home.

'' Breakfast was included !'' the italian woman who can speak English had finally arrived.

Be strong Annabelle, everything is going to be fine!

I take my calculator and explains that this number is the number with no breakfast.

22 minutes later she gives up and hands me her card
I got my bloody 10 quid in the end. VICTORY.

I start chatting with her and she tells me that they haven't planned anything for their trip and it's all a bit scary for them. They want to go to Scotland but they don't know what to expect.

I smile. Ok so it was all ALSO about that in the end, wasn't it?

'' I am sure you will make it '' I tell her meaning it.

She thanks me and off they went.

The Belgian kids are now asking me to play pool.
Mmmm sorry. Tiny bit busy right now.
11am. All problems from the morning got magically solved. The rest of the staff comes on. We tell the 2 million stories that happened.

'' Annabelle, repeat, I don't follow you. Italian what? Santa who?'' Dutchie is staring.

Oh dear. It's only 11 am and I ALREADY don't make sense. I expected more from me.

I send everyone to clean different rooms and try to go back to my own comfort zone aka deep cleaning.

'' Annabelle, come!'' the girls sensed my stress and had prepared a pile of duvets for me to jump on. We take a photo of that and post it on facebook so I could put a nail on the coffin of my job :

'' Easy job you have Annabelle, doing nothing but having fun. I envy your lifetyle'' my friends would say aftewards.

I smile and I try to imagine how many of my friends would actually handle the permanent unexpectedness of my job. And how we constantly re assure people about things we are not pretty sure ourselves.

 I come up with.... a few. But they can't know, can they???

I pressure the interns with another picture of the dorm I'll be taking at the end. The finished product cannot be less than perfect. It will be on facebook.

I go back later and I could hear them

'' Annabelle , you're going to kill us , we can't do as good as what you expect....'' the girls are scared shitless.

Expectations..... You don't want to start me on that.

A few re adjustments later the photo was taken , and we managed to finish the whole hostel before 2. Sometimes I think there are fairies helping us ( or is it the ghost)

I check in a couple of Spanish people later that afternoon. It's their first time in a hostel . I show them to the dorm and I can sense their distress.

The hungry, tired , insecure staff member in me wanted to say '' Get on with it , it's just a dorm. Bed. Sleep'' But the compassionate human being that I actually am took over. ( thank God or whoever)  I remembered.

September 2004

Kipps Staff : '' Annabelle, the private room you're in now is booked out from tomorrow, you'll have to move to a dorm''
Me ( a guest at the time) '' A what? Sharing with OTHER PEOPLE? OMG. This is so unexpected.
The first night I spent in the dorm, I cried because I was too scared. D'oh.

Same dorm , NOW

'' Everything is going to be fine , we're like a big family here. Any problems come to us '' I tell my Spanish guests
They look more relaxed now,

4pm after a whole day of tellin people that everything is going to be fine I stop work and I desperatly want to hear for myself. Me, my bank account , my original lifestyle, my blog that makes me feel I'm walking around naked because in it I say everything , ARE WE GOING TO BE FINE?

I go back to my empty room. No facebook message or emails. I face it for myself.

I cannot stop being strong. Not allowed sorry.


Later that day I catch myself writing '' With this Life filled with unexpected , no wonder I need a strong man to put his arm around me and tell me '' YOU are going to be fine Annabelle''

What did I do? I sent this to my Quebecois. Another bad move Annabelle. I expected the worst.

The answer came in a few hours. It was , for the least unexpected . One sentence

'' YOU are going to be fine , Annabelle''

Aaaaaaw cute. But he's NOT here, is he??? I switch off the lap top and go face the real world.

'' We have something for you '' the interns tell me . Poor girls I had persecuted them all day with cleaning standards. A card. The envelope read :

'' To our favourite deep cleaner and blogger''

And the card read '' Thank you for introducing us to the Art of deep cleaning with you '' There was love hearts everywhere.

How unexpected. Wow. ( tears)

'' Sit now, I cut your hair , I don't like it '' Big Sister now tells me.
'' But ...''
'' SIT NOW''

10 minutes later I had a new haircut and she had also got me a new top from the charity shop.

I never in a million years tought that my evening would turn up this way.

Mama had prepared a yummy meal and the family was all having dinner together, joking together.

We were all over the recent problems but they had made us stronger.

I look around me at this bunch of people calling each other family. German, Dutch , Romanian, Brits and me.... the citizen of the world still French enough to think that the unexpected was a bad thing.
Unexpected : events that you cannot control or fix. There is no need to be scared , It's ALWAYS FOR THE BEST. Synonym : miracle.

How do I know? All  my distress on the other side of the world , all my jobs unexpectedly lost got me BACK HERE to my first love , Kipps Canterbury., wthout EVER expecting it . And that, is a miracle in itself

No matter what you think your life should be like. If you let go of your expectations trust that you'll get where you want to go  anyway and never give up the fight , chances are you will get to an even better place than you ever thought it could be possible.


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