Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Working Weekend

Being in the month of Syawal, which is the Raya month on the Islamic calendar, many would celebrate the festive month by throwing an open house. So, this weekend, I had a 2 in one. First up in the morning was Azim's house. And second up in the evening was Emilia's open house, well, I don't think you could actually call it an open house, since she isn't even doing it at home but at that 3k complex instead. I guess she rented out a hall or something.

So Azim's house was up first, and it was just a small close friends get-together for him. So those who showed up were Pravin, Shnubby and I. Two girls from his skool were to show up too, but they were either dead unpunctual or just didn't come. At Azim's, like all open houses, we enjouyed a little banquet of traditional food. Then we went upstairs to his room and played some Guitar hero. Wait, we played guitar hero before we ate. After we ate, I whipped out my Fatal Frame III so we could play together.

Yes, I'll admit, I'm a wuss when it comes to thrillers. I don't watch thriller movies, and neither do I have the lion's heart to play thriller games alone.

Abit behind schedule, we were supposed to be at Emilia's by 2. And it was already 2.30. And I asked Firdaus to hop over here so we could go to 3k together. And as things turned out he got here at 3.15. So we were late. And I had to go to John's house at 3.30 for a little something, so we left Azim's house for my place, but not without accepting duit raya first! So with the time constraints, I thought i could just go and say hello and pop back out of Emilia's open house. But then, there came transport problems, and THEN the heavy rain. So we were stuck in my house and had no idea of reaching 3k and it was 3.45. Then I broke out the news to the guys then I couldn't go to Emilia's open house cuz I had to go to John's. Firdaus got pissed off, and stormed off out into the rain. yeah, Dude, sorry about that. And Razlan left with his mom to fetch his sister from music class.

So why was it so important to go to John's house? Because Joseph was comin' over to pick us up to go to Sheraton Hotel.

To work part-time as waiters! It's just a weekend job and since I'm low on cash, what the heck right? 6 bucks per hour seemed like a good deal to me!

In the end the Joseph was LATE because of the rain and we only got there at 4.30. Which cost us an hours pay.

How we got the job was because Joseph's aunt works there as a florist. So she hooked us up. Being late and all, the three of us were pretty much disorientated. We ventured pass the double doors of the main entrance. Walking across the lobby towards the right we walk through a lavishly decorated alley filled with paintings. At the end of it was another clearing which looked not unlike the lobby we were just from. Veering off to the left, there was a little shop. Well, not sure if it
was a shop or not, but it sure looked like a little comfortable one.

Inside, we were introduced to Joseph's aunt;

Joseph's aunt

owner of the place in which we were standing. She then guided us to the back. "The Back Alley", a narrow passageway with damp navy blue rollover floormats, long rows of tables on either side, metal cabinets and eerie fluorascent lighting, was the place behind the scenes where people never see and its a place where The Help (us) only set foot in, which ran along the side of the grand ballroom. If you've gone for any of Seafield's I.U. Days, no matter Interact or Leo, you'd definitely know what the feel of a grand ballroom is. Elaborating a little morer, the kitchens, store room, changing rooms and the lot were all connected by this alley. And neither John, Joseph nor I knew that we would be seeing 7 more hours of this alley.

The Back Alley

Joseph's aunt then showed us to this man, which we all assumed was our employer, which apparenly everyone called
Captain. The Captain sent one of his lackeys to show us the ropes and give the basic drill on newbie part-time workers. He took us along the back alley, which led up to an exit at the far end. Exiting the building, it appears that we seemed to be at the left side of the Sheraton. Directly infront of us, was a puny guard hut, which we advanced upon. At this guard house we had to present a copy of our IC's , fill up some card, and sign in a logbook.

Logbook signing

After doing the hasslesome paperwork, we were presented with a punchcard which the guard helped us clock in, and a staff keytag; which granted us access through all the doors of the hotel.

The Keycard : If we lost it, it takes rm45 to replace.

With that complete, our so called guide turned us to the right, and we walked down a road that sloped down. By the looks of it, this was the supply line where all the trucks come in to deliver provisions. Down there, was another building. Which we entered through a plastic curtained door. For a five star hotel, the places the general public were never meant to see sure were an eyesore. After crossing the threshold a second door, what lay beyond it, was yet another narrow hallway, this time painted a split-wall colour where the bottom half was a cerulean blue and the top half a somewhat revolting mustard yellow.

Two thirds down the hallway we make a right turn which leads us to a little room with racks of clothing. Uniforms. The uniform waiters like us were to wear was a simple black
baju melayu imitation with gold patterns weaved to the rims of the collar and in the cuffs. Materialwise, it was like that of a standard blazzer.

Next stop, was the locker room. Nothing special about this place. I even forgot how we got there. Just a place where I put my bag. Our guide then took us to a cafeteria which was probably for staff which was connected to the mustard-blue hallway. John and Joseph took some food. I on the other hand was still full from the open house, so I didn't take any.

Besides, coming from a home where both parents can cook, and deliciously at that, I thought the food they served to part time workers didn't look appetizing to at all. Our guide took a plate and ate too.

Joseph seems to be enjoying the food. Not too sure about John there.

Sometime during then, our guide disappeared. So after eating, we were kinda lost. Not knowing what to do, we just sort of loafed about and ended up losing ourselves in the inside the works of the hotel. Then I had some jakun fun with the keycard.

It detects through my wallet! zOMG!

Then we ended up in the toilet, ok so well none of us felt like taking a leak. What we did do was, take some pictures!

So that's how I'd look if I had to serve you for the rest of the evening.

Later, by some miracle, we managed to end up back in Joseph's aunt's florist store. Here Joseph had a change of footwear. Since his Adidas imiation didn't pass for black shoes. And since this spare pair he got from his aunt didn't have laces to tie with, we had to use an alternative. What's abundant in a florist store? Josepth ended up tying his shoes with black ribbons, which he tied neatly into bownots.
If you didn't get a good look at the store. Here's another view, with John in the left.

And here's Joseph tying his ribbons.

Going back to the back alley afterwards to look for the Captain to get a heads up on our situation, we get a scolding on because we were back there when the other's were getting a briefing in the store room. And so we go there.

At the store room, we were given a briefing on the nights procedure. Summarizing it all up, we were briefed on who we were serving, which were people from
MacFoods. Yeap, the bigshots who provide us with heart-attacks-in-a-bun. Para-pa-pappa~! I'm lovin' it alright. Then were were briefed on the nights menu. The usual CHINESE SERVING. Which meant an EIGHT course meal. Which consisted of a Sheraton 4 Hot and Cold thingy, followed by sharkfin soup, some chicken, Prawns *ughh!*, Fish, Vegetables and Fried rice. That was the order of the whole nights dinner. Drinks to be served were cordial punch, (The pinkish stuff they served during IU day!) and chinese tea.

Standing back and looking around, it wasn't a surprise only the 3 of us were school kids. Youngest besides us were college kids. Most of the workers were indonesian. And there was this other part time worker who had a striking resemblance to Billy, my classmate. He was a very helpful guy. Helped us out alot later on

Being newbies, we were eached paired up with a partner. I got a malay dude while Joseph got an indo dude. And John got a malay girl. Each team was sent to cover a specific set of tables. So heres the layout: (forgive the pathetic MS paint drawing)

RED line represents my area.
BLUE line does Joseph.
GREEN lines represent John's.
And incase either my drawins are too ugly or you lack common sense,
round black circles are TABLES.

Immediately after that, we were sent to rehearse our food presentation. It was this weird/awesome/tiring ceremony we were asked to perform where all the waiters walk in one line to present food in front. i'll elaborate more later. but anyway, we weren't the only ones rehearsing. Here were some Japanese people doing some Tribal? music.

After that we were sent out to the grand ballroom to begin preparing for guests. Main priority: Fill all glasses with punch, and prepare cutlery for the tables.

Here's John refilling the Punch Jugs

Candles we put on the table for decoration.

When we ventured out into the dark ballroom to begin serving drinks. And a choice between forks and spoons or chopsticks. Being new, I gelabah abit. And I split the drink on either the table or the seat more than once. I had to retreat back into the Back Alley more that twice to refill the jugs of punch to cover 4 tables which meant 40 glasses. My partner did the cutlery. Unfortunately for Joseph, his partner seemed to be acting out on this one. So he had to do most of the work.. or so he says.

When the lights came on, finally could I comprehend the entire expanse of the hall and the amount of people who worked for McDonald's. Then came on the PA with a womans voice which to me, was very pleasant on the ears.. which was Sazzy Falak's who was hosting for the night.

There's Joseph to the right standing at his station,
and Sazzy being projected on the screen.

Alright so the event finally started, and as you can see, the setting of the tables and the grand ballroom do not look unlike those of IU Days held by Seafield's Interact and Leo. Only difference is, when dinner time came, it wasn't a buffet. So thats where WE, The Help, came in. Going back to The Back Alley, we had to each pick up a huge plate laden with an assortment of stuff.

I got one, and it wasn't that heavy. John and Joseph got one for themeselves too. Trooping through the back alley going around the grandballroom, we end up at the entrance of the ballroom nd fall into formation for the food presentation. So how it went was, 2 lines of waiters with arms outstretched with the huge plates walk towards each other from 2 separate ends of the ballroom. Left, and right. We met up in the centre of the ballroom, just before the KLCC imitation gateway. Then we head up toward the stage in 2 file lines. Oh, and the coolest part was, the guy infront of me, he didn't carry a plate. He carried something much cooler. A stick wrapped in some sort of flammable material with a crossguard and hilt. Alright, lets just call it a Flame Saber since they lit the blade and it ended up looking like a sword on fire. Too bad I couldn't get a pic because my hands were occupied supporting the weight of the darn chinese serving starter. So after marching up toward the stage, the two lines converge into an arc and face the audience. Then we bow down and present the food like an offering. After recieving a round of applause, it was time for the McD bigshots to get served!

So I served the food to 2 tables while my partner got the other two. Then these people, especially the one table in the corner which, not to be racist, or generic, were occupied by these Indian men ranging about age 30 - 40 who were well, extremely obnoxious and loud. And I had to serve them. They ravaged the appetizer like a pack of ravenous wolves and it was gone by the time I returned to serve the neighbouring table their dish!

And get this, this little part made me go like WHAT THE F**k!?

On one of my refilling rounds, I saw one them take out from who knows where a green bottle. And he started pouring small glassbottomed portions into several glasses. And it smelled realy punget, like tapai. Then he shared it with his tablemates, which I assume were his friends. So I thought

"Oh, he brought alcohol. whateverlah."

THEN, I saw him mix one of the glasses with the punch I had been refillling forthe past hour. And assuming they all work in the same company, he calls over a colleague from another table. Only thing is, this guy is MALAY. And a super semangat one at that because he was dressed in Baju Melayu. So then from where I stood I could over hear their conversation. (Yeah, talk about being a good waiter.)

"Ahh, bang! Sini sini!"

Guy in baju melayu comes and sits with them.

"Ahh asal?"

"Ini nah, minum ini."

"Ape nihh? Orange juice ker?"

The rest of the table joins in.

"Yeah yeah! Ini orange juice!"

Malay dude chugs down spiked punch.

What the hell!?

Yeah, something to witness there, but well, it's not my problem. I was just a waiter. So after the first course was over and done with I had to clear the plates.

Joseph's hands were shaking too much from the heavy plates he had carried.
Thus the blurry image of me carrying plates off to the kitchen.

Back in The Back Alley, I had to walk to the dish washing segment where, If I'm not mistaken, Pakistani workers were busy cleaning up the first wave of dirty plates. But on the way there, I had to fight my way through a bunch of bumbling chefs and preparing food on the long tables for the next course. Sharkfin Soup. And here's where I got kinda disgusted, some of the workers.. well, sorta help themselves to the food. "Sharkfin soup in a bowl? Hey, let's scoop some up and have a taste. Oh no, it's too salty, lets have a glass of punch." or "Hey, I like it, lets have some more!". Imagine those scenarios, all happening to ach course. Even the dessert cake. I don't know about you, but I have a sense of integrity, and well, we may spend hours on hour feet, smelling it, serving it, but it's not ours to take. I mean, if you think about it, what if you payed big money for a dinner, or if u had a wedding, and it was your wiedding, and you found out your guests weren't the first people to dig in on the hearty meal?

I guess these McD employees sure were getting a Happy Meal.

My job was repetitive from then on. More refills, take in dirty plates, stack up new plates, and bring in the new courses. But there were some interesting events along the way, such as a bunch of security guards storming in and swiping my sector because there had been a report of stolen belongings. So well, if people halt eating, I stop working :D

Investigatve Security Guards

Which meant I had a break then. But not all was interesting. The table full of the obnoxious men I was telling you about earlier, they didn't stop with there, they called me over, and asked

"Eh bang, itu meja arh. Ahh, yang tu tu.. Dia orang tak makan habis ayam. Bang boleh kasi mintak dia bagi kita tak? Kita banyak lapar woo."

"Baiklah encik, saya tanyakan dulu. Sebentar ya."

Yeah that was me, being all budi bahasa. Well in truth, I didn't even ask. I just went there, refilled their drinks. And doubled back the men and said "Maaf Encik, mereka masih sedang menjamu selera."

And thats how the night went. We were working ourselves sore. My feet were tired out. The entertaintment provided for the night was kinda fun to watch though. There was a magician from some european country.. or was he american. But he was really good, and watching magic live is awesome! Then there was a lucky draw where a dude from one of the tables i served won a washimg machine. Then there was a spot of horrible singing by some volunteers, and some rock melayu by a band. I'll add more details into this part if I get the time. So basically after all that, the night was done.

And if the night were to be classified into 2 parts, the one before was just patience and perseverance. Now, it came tp endurance and strength. Why? Because we're all tired out, Joseph was on the verge of collapsing, and we had to stack up
heavy dinner chairs and tables.

The end product of my efforts

At the end of the day, we were all parched and hungry, hands shaking, legs wobbling, and oddly enough, all that standing made my butt sore.
So daddy fetched me and the guys up.
We went to ehsan, and YUM. Food always tastes better when your dead hungry.


Ash says cheerio!

Ah, and for the random vids i like to post at the end of a post:

Fall For You - Secondhand Serenade

His name's Ray Mak. He's Malaysian.
And my fav video of his is his cover he made of

Peterpan's "Mimpi yang Sempurna"

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