Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Working 6 days a week, 12 hour shifts and still smiling

I just returned from a vacation in a place with crystalline waters that reflected the sky making the water clear and relaxing as the waves quietly crashed into the shore. The hotel was pristine with palm trees that gently swayed with the coolish breeze that would gently stroll across the white sandy beach.  So what does this have to do with employment you might ask?  How can a person return from a vacation and have an article about employment?  From the moment we walked in to the lobby of this hotel the hustle and bustle never stopped, from the check in you get a nice fruit laden glass of I think Pina Colada and are greeted with a smile and a very welcoming “Hola”.  As I was wondering around looking at the breath taking scene from the lobby door, looking out over the pool which seemed to disappear into the ocean, I had to stop and think.  How is this place so beautiful with all the vacationers meandering about, checking their computers, I pads, having their first drinks for the day?  Then over the next week the answer to that question became as crystal clear as the ocean.

Over the course of the week we met several of the staff, had some great conversations and yes a few laughs. It was a delightful time.  I want to share the insights from the trip that helped me appreciate my career and feel somewhat like a slacker.  As I was relaxing I noticed things from people that were from different countries, but mainly from America.  These are some of the things I noticed.

  1. From the first breakfast the waitress was always smiling and seemed happy even though she never stopped moving. The morning coffee was never empty and the drinks that were ordered were also never empty. On the 3rd day after skipping breakfast the waitress asked the rest of our party where we were.  It is interesting to see someone come out of the buffet area when you are walking by and waving and speaking because they did not see you that morning.
  2. The maitre d' who worked 6 days a week for 12 hours a day always stopped by the table to help teach us Spanish, he was always smiling and loved to kid with us on a daily basis. We saw him for each meal at the buffet. morning, noon and night.
  3. When a resort states tips are included this does not mean you can ignore the staff that go above and beyond.  We had great service and I think the service was that great due to the tips that we shared with the individuals that were there working.  I noticed so many Americans and individuals from other countries that maybe tipped 1 dollar and they did not get the best service.
  4. There was an individual who spent time with us in the evenings in the bar that really took a shine to us.  He was a maitre d' in the evening and took time to talk with us in between running around and checking in with everyone to make sure they were taken care of. One night we asked him “How can you work 6 days a week with 12-13 hour shifts and still be smiling and friendly”?  He answered he was grateful for his job. He went on to tell us about his two children one 2 years old and 1 6 months old.  He told us that he get’s home around 1 AM catches a quick nap then the 6 month old has him up.  That is after a 12-13 hour day at work.  Normally you would hear someone complaining about how tired they were or how much they hated that schedule, but this individual was grateful to have his job and grateful for his life.
  5. I have never seen a resort that was so clean.  The individuals who were in charge of cleaning the rooms, cleaning the lobby and the overall cleaning of the outside did a tremendous job.

As I sit here writing this I find myself still  on that stool looking out at the mirror like water, having individuals rushing to take care of whatever I might need, and yet watching the best work ethic I have ever experienced.  By the end of the week all the individuals we were gracious to meet were calling us by our names and seemed a bit sad because we were leaving, they might have been sad the tippers were leaving, but the genuine smiles; hand shakes and friendly razzing told me differently.  If I walked away from this vacation with one thing, I hope it is for me to go above and beyond for my job, not complain about the day or hours, but return to the gratitude that Rebekah, Jamie, Abiendio, Xavier, Julliam and Uliciez taught me. Give your all and remember if you love what you do you can always smile about it.

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