Times have changed and so have customers. Many years ago in the early 70's I was an assistant manager, later manager, of a very nice 48 bedroomed hotel in Hove. It was like a mini Savoy, oak panelled, high ratio of staff to guest, and one of the first hotels in the country to have had 100% en-suite bathrooms installed. The guests were certainly very posh, many Ladies, Lords and gentlemen. Tie and jackets at dinner, that sort of thing.
We had, like a number of hotels on the south coast in those days, some permanent residents. Typically aged in their 80's or 90's these were nice well off old folk who didn't need to be in a home but still wanted to have “full service” without the high cost of servants in their own home. Also, it was very convenient for the “children” to offload a burden on an unsuspecting hotel.
One lady whose name I have changed, was the widow of a past (we're talking early 20th Century) Chairman of BP. A splendid lady who had never washed up in her life. She had a slightly noddy head and a deep gruff rough voice, albeit with a posh accent. I had many dealings with her which made me laugh. Well, you had to.
One day she demanded to see me. Even though she new my name she would ask for the Manager, that way you'd know she was unhappy. We went into my office and sat down. She told me some of her silk knickers had gone missing from her room. It must have been the nasty old housekeeper what done it. Now Mrs Blade was probably about a size 10, very petite. Miss Jones the housekeeper, was more like a size 16. At least. But Mrs Blade was convinced the housekeeper had done the deed. I asked her “Do you think she'll use them as handkerchiefs, because she won't be able to wear them?” She looked at me with contempt, but I had a smile on my face, and I just about got away with it.
Another time I was waiting in the restaurant and Mrs B was having dinner. In those days they had breakfast lunch and dinner in the dining room. Always the same table. We were busy so I was giving the staff a hand. I took Mrs B's smoked salmon out to her and put it on the table.
“I didn't order that” she said tersely.
“I'm sorry Mrs Blade, what was it that you ordered?”
“I was having melon”.
“Oh I'm very sorry, Chef must have made a mistake, I'll change it.” I said.
Off I went to the kitchen, got it changed brought the melon out, put it on the table, and she said in a very perturbed manner: “I didn't order that”.
I asked her once again what it was she had ordered. (I was thinking, what she thought she had ordered.)
“I ordered smoked salmon!” she said with great assertiveness.
This kind of thing could go on and on with Mrs B but you just had to grin and bear it. The kitchen ran out of patience of course, but out front you had to keep calm and carry on.
Who was it said that the customer is always right? Probably Mrs Blade.
More about the travails of Mrs B another time.