Thursday, June 17, 2010

Of functions, food, and Frenchmen

Today has been quite a day in the Hospitality department! We had 4 functions to set up for, serve, and take down... as well as two birthdays, a tour, and a few cabins to ready for new crew.

This morning while I was in the 2nd day of New Crew Training the other girls set up for our coffee break. This involved rearranging some of the tables and chairs in the midship Deck 6 lounge, roping off the section so those watching the World Cup wouldn't move things around, setting up plates of cookies, arranging the table with coffee mugs and glasses, and setting up the water pitchers and coffee/tea thermoses. After the group was done and we headed back into training sessions they tore everything down and washed all the cups... by hand.

The girls also had to set up the Queen's Lounge for a fancy luncheon for the Vision Trip guests. These guests come to the ship in groups of about 15, led by a representative from one of the national Mercy Ships offices; this trip was from Switzerland. These are potential donors and are treated very nicely during their 4-day stay. A few of the couples speak English fairly well, and because they recognize me from when they first arrived on the ship, they stop to make conversation as we pass in the halls or on the stairs.

They had a beautiful lunch on china and fancy tablecloths, silverware, and water glasses. While the rest of the crew had macaroni&cheese, they had chicken cordon bleu, scalloped potatoes (which at this time of year are expensive and hard to find  because of the rainy season), and a fancy chocolate souffle with raspberry sauce prepared by Kathy, the department head.

I got back to work at 1pm, just in time to start on the dishes which we washed in the small kitchen just off the Queen's Lounge. Then all the clean dishes had to go back in the cabinets in one room, the leftovers in a fridge in the Hospitality galley on the other end of the ship, the table cloths taken to the laundry, and the room rearranged. But us girls each got a taste of the chocolate souffle... amazingness! (And we got a plate of leftover chicken cordon bleu for lunch on Saturday instead of the pack-your-own sandwich the crew normally gets)

At 2:30pm we again set up for coffee and cookies for a tour coming through. One of the French Navy vessels, the Mistral, has been docked next to us for a few days. This morning small groups of our crew got to tour their ship, and they came over this afternoon. A group of about 20 of them were all dressed in their white uniforms and one of our French-speaking crew members gave them a complete tour. It was rather funny to joke with the dining room and galley girls about the "cute Frenchmen coming aboard!" All in good fun... most of them didn't speak a word of English we came to find out!

As soon as they left we washed all the coffee cups and water glasses, put away cream/sugar, vacuumed the carpet... and set up again for the Vision Trip's ice cream social later tonight. Every Thursday night is the mandatory crew community meeting and I am looking forward to the worship and fellowship... and I get to help serve ice cream for the entire crew afterwards.

So I'm learning that an 8-5 M-F job is not really 8-5... it's more like 8-whenever everyone is gone, the daily new crew tour is done, the dishes are washed, and the furniture is set back up. But at least we girls do it together. We joke around a lot and try to make the day more fun... long days, hard work, but I enjoy it... although I'm sure I will be very tired of making cookies by the end of the summer!

*Hospitatlity department--we keep people happy. If we do our job right, you'll never even know we exist...*

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