Wacky and Wondrous fun at the poolside
Depending on which hotel you work at, the pool can be either an incredibly boring place or the centre of all the action. Usually, the poolside scene at city hotels is not that exciting, but a poolside at a beach resort fronting the sea normally keeps the staff busy-especially if the hotel has a sunken bar for people to get intoxicated at while ogling sun worshippers, as mine did.
I was walking past our sunken bar to the pool kitchen area to check on things when I saw my idle chef leaning on the counter, checking out the poolside talent, unaware of my presence.
“Busy, are we?!” I asked.
“Just making sure all our valued customers are well taken care of, chef,” smirked the startled chef. I stood on the edge of the pool area, shaking my head in disappointment and glanced out at the clear turquoise sea, the powdery white sands and the tourists running around, burning to a lobster-like shade. I wondered how many were going to ruin their holidays with third-degree burns.
“You know, you have the best job in the hotel,” I said, “Here you are, cooking a few burgers and hotdogs, while watching all the action and working on your tan at the same time!”
I was about to continue when a rather large chap sitting in the water at the sunken bar chipped in first.
“Hey there chef, great dinner last night! What with the braised cabbage and all. Breakfast was great too, although I ate too many baked beans,” he said rather unsteadily. He seemed to have consumed a few drinks too many as well.
“I topped all that off with six ice-cold beers and now my friends and I are having a wind breaking competition,” he continued loudly.
Before I could continue my conversation with the chef, the wannabe entertainer lifted his bottom and broke wind, sending noxious bubbles floating to the top of the water.
“There goes the ozone layer!” he announced, eliciting howls of laughter from his equally obtuse friends.
I could not help myself. “I am so glad to see we have finally managed to attract the exclusive market segment we have been working so hard over the years to reach! It is about time we upgraded our client base, and we now have wonderful customers like yourselves enjoying the million-dollar facilities,” I said, as sarcastically as I could manage.
The guy stared at me, trying to fathom what the heck I was talking about, at the same time announcing the arrival of another torpedo with “Here comes another, chef!”
Wonderful start to my day. In addition to the bubble-blower, there were screaming kids running around, couples throwing each other in the water, two fat men competing to see who could make the biggest belly flop jumping into the pool screaming “Yeeha!” and an elderly man pushing the oldest, most rusty-looking bicycle I have ever seen, hung with coconuts.
“Now that is what I call an old bike,” I said to the coconut vendor.
This antique bike has been with my family for generations, and it is one of our most prized heirlooms,” he replied proudly. Announcing that he would sing a beautiful song to advertise his wares, he coughed slightly to clear his throat and closed his eyes for a second, as if to pluck up courage.
Everyone crowded around, eager for some entertainment. “Coconut water, good for your daughter, coconut … baby coconut. Coconut water good for your daughter, coconut, I am selling coconut,” went his song.
“Well then,” I said, clapping and attempting to give him some support, “If that does not help you sell your stuff nothing will …”
The guests who had gathered just wandered off shaking their heads and giggling among themselves.
As I was getting ready to depart the scene, a rather burnt-looking fellow came towards me looking disturbed. “Hi chef, my red flag has been flying in the garden for ten minutes-what is the point of having a red flag system if nobody offers me service when I raise it?!” he said irritably.
“How can I help you, sir?” I answered wearily.
“Gin and tonic, young man … and please be quick,” he replied.
As I turned around to look for a waiter, another obviously happy chappy came over. “Chef, this pool is a circus! There are kids running every where, drunken bums blowing large smelly bubbles into the water in which I submerge my face, a fella selling coconuts and a guy complaining about his red flag, when the only red flag I see is that I cannot seem to get any peace around here!” he raged.
I was about to try and show some obviously much-needed compassion when I heard a “cling cling” sound. As I turned around, wondering what else could possibly happen, I saw one of our service staff on the new ice-cream delivery bicycle, frantically ringing the small bell on the handlebars.
This bicycle was designed to help distribute ice-cream to sweltering guests on the hotel grounds. As he came towards me, I realized that he was looking a tad unsteady on his new mode of transportation. He was veering to the left, looking like he was going to fall off, and the front wheel was wobbling back and forth. The area surrounding the pool was concrete and this guy was well in his way to engaging in a nice bruising affair.
Luckily for him, he held it together long enough to stay on well past the concrete, far enough in fact to make it right to the edge of the pool and… right into the pool itself.
As he and the soon-to-be-soaking-wet ice-cream went headfirst into the busy pool, he flapped his arms frantically, shouting “I can’t swim!”
Looking at him, I calmly said, “Stand up.”
He immediately calmed down and stood up, realizing that he had fallen into the shallow end. I looked at the red flag chap, who was looking on in horror. “He has not taken his test yet,” was the only comment I could muster.
A huge monitor lizard chose that moment to come running through the garden and grab some leftover food off a plate. It plunged into the pool to cool off, climbed out the other side and disappeared into some bushes.
“Now that is not something you see every day, chef!” shouted the impatient drinker, adding “Gin and tonic, please!” to any waiter within earshot.
Unwilling to be outdone, Mr. I Want Some Peace and Quiet chipped in with, “It’s not just a circus, it’s a zoo as well!”
I steadied myself, glanced at my chef and whispered, “I have changed my mind, this job is not easy-and it’s all yours!”
As I turned around for a speedy retreat, I saw five people in full scuba gear coming to attend beginner scuba diving classes….you guessed it, in the swimming pool!
As I was leaving, I heard someone shout, “You have got to be kidding!” as he spotted the pending arrival of the team, who were going to give the bubble-blowers a run for their money. “Chef!” screamed another, “You better make that gin and tonic a double!”
Another day in paradise, I mumbled under my breath.
This is new material that is not in “Chef’s Tales” the book and was first published in Flavours Magazine.