A Stretch in the Gordon's
My career in the leisure industry had slumped somewhat. Although I had several 'fantastic offers' but I was like a goalkeeper- between posts. I was even contemplating returning to dish-washing when a golden opportunity reared its ugly head. The position of night receptionist became available and the bad news was I was short-listed.
“Hey Bob, have you ever worked in a hostel before?” asked Chucky.
“No, but I've been in one near Brighton.” I had been in several but did not want to sound over qualified. “It was a very nice one over-looking the South Downs.” I added. My flippancy was not greatly appreciated.
Chucky was Israeli born and bred, but nobody is perfect. He spoke English with a tacky American accent that was mimicked by all. He had an annoying trait of always putting 'hey' before a person's name. He must have thought it was a courtesy title.
I once worked with a teacher who must have thought my name was 'there'. Whenever I said “Hello Alex.” he would reply “Hello there.” He never took the trouble to remember my name. I often boast that there are only 3 things I can never remember: names and faces.
For some unknown reason Chucky engendered fear into people. Everybody told me that they were not scared of him, but nobody stood up to him, until now.
“Hey Bob, you look as though you have a lot of common sense. This job involves a lot of that.”
“Sometimes I do, but mostly I'm much cleverer than that.” The concept of lateral thinking would have been alien to him. Being far too smart for my own good has been a problem since I was small, but I never got into false modesty.
I was told, in the grammar school I attended for 7 years, that I was not there to think but to work. Whenever I made a mistake my stock reply was, “But I'm not here to think.” This caused me a lot of aggravation, but could I stop saying it?
Chucky knew that he could never find the perfect member of staff for the pittance he paid. So, as misery makes fine bed-fellows, I was to start the next evening.
I had stayed at the Gordon when I first moved to Tel Aviv but I did not fit in as I did not have any tattoos or swear every other word. I moved to the Number 1, the other part of the company's chain, so that I could sleep while I was working. I did not fit in there either.
Would I be accepted now that I was a receptionist?
I had made only one acquaintance during my time there, an East-ender, who called himself Dave the Rave(top face). Like me he had been suburbanised, but had lost none of his inner London charm. His wit was not of the rapier sharpness but a broadsword using a minimalist style. We gelled nicely.
Dave worked the afternoon shift and was surprisingly good at his job. He had developed the knack of knowing when to fool around and when not, an art missing from my mental kitbag. I always do things to extreme and then a little more. How can one ever find the 'mark' if one never goes beyond it?
I had another possible ally in Diane, a princess in more than just name. She worked the morning shift and was the best female receptionist in the hostel. We had met several times before. She had grabbed my arm on the beach. I knew it was an invitation but for some reason did not pursue it. She was Scouse and proud of it. Despite that, I fancied her.
I had 2 allies but was nervous on my first night, which was a training night. This is unpaid! The smarmy little guy took 2 minutes to show me how to press the button that opened the door. That was it. He buggered off leaving me to it: a whole night without wages.