Monday, September 17, 2012

Wanting Memories: Cambodian Cooking with a Modern Mother

Wanting Memories: Cambodian Cooking with a Modern Mother: While I often take issue with BeyoncĂ©’s veiled anti-feminist lyrics, I’ll admit her interrogative hit, “Girls Who Run the World,” is an ...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How long is too long to wait for a cup of coffee?

This cup sat empty for 14 minutes
How long is too long to wait for a cup of coffee? My travels have taken me to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan and the hotel is absolutely beautiful. In 1980 the movie “Somewhere in Time” was filmed here, however, I have not particularly felt like there is a place in this time for me here. I need to share that I am not here by choice, nor am I paying for my stay – but that does not take away the concerns that I have had since before I arrived, many of which were confirmed upon arrival. Yes, I arrived already feeling defensive – getting repeated information about proper attire, “For ladies…after 6:30 p.m. dresses or very nice pants suits are preferred” and “In the evening, gentleman 12 years and older must wear a suit and tie after 6:00” sends me over the edge – and again, I am not here by choice – this event is required for me to attend so that I can work on a job for the next 12 months, and being told what to wear during my off time, especially during my eating off time challenges the rebel in me. So, when my luggage did not arrive at the hotel in time for me to change for dinner last night and I am in inappropriate attire for dinner – I was told by the concierge that there is a place across the street where there will be others dressed like me where I can eat. I am going to write about that experience at another time,  I am just trying to set-up the state of mind I was in this morning when I got up and dressed for breakfast.

View from my table
Now I love my coffee in the morning. The thought of sitting out on the 660 foot long porch which lines the entire front of this hotel in the morning really got me up and out of bed (an hour earlier than usual because of the time change). In addition to loving my coffee in the morning I am not really a morning person, thus the heavy reliance on coffee to really get me going…and the feeling of being a second class citizen still has not left me from the night before…that’s the set-up. I go out hunting for a cup of coffee…no coffee in the lobby…no coffee on the deck…I am escorted to the main dining hall where I am promised coffee…I wait as a single diner for the wait staff to clear off the worse room in the dining hall which seats hundreds of people.  I left my room which is no more than 100 feet from the dining hall 18 minutes ago…and still no coffee. As I am seated, I ask for coffee, go to the buffet, return to my table and an empty cup, ask again for some coffee…I finish my oatmeal and pick my cup up and signal to my waiter that I would really like some coffee – I get a nod of acknowledgement…but still no coffee. By this time I am a little agitated so I get up and go in search of anyone who has coffee to pour into my cup. I ask three other wait staff for coffee as I walk around the dining hall and they all just nod and walk away and finally I spot her… a young woman who has a pot of coffee and I get up and chase after her practically begging her to fill my cup. I felt like Oliver Twist in the movie when he took his oatmeal bowl up to Fagin and begged “Please sir, may I have some more?” And she just looks at me. I ask her again and as she turns to walk away before filling my cup I have to use my cross-mother voice to get her to transfer some of the coffee in her coffee-pot to my still empty cup. Fourteen minutes after walking into the dining room and 32 minutes after leaving my room I finally have my first cup of coffee for the day…now starts the quest for half and half.

32 minutes from search to success
Perhaps I am being unreasonable, but I would like to think that when the kind of money that is being paid to the Grand Hotel for me to stay and eat here that I could get a waiter to get me a cup of coffee less than 32 minutes after I go searching for it. What do you think – reasonable or unreasonable? How long is long enough to wait? What would you do if you were in a place where you are virtually held hostage and there are no competitors for your business – did I mention that I am on an island? Do you think that the “no tipping” policy encourages this kind of lack of service? I would love to hear your comments.

Tomorrow I am going to write about the fight my table got into with the wait staff at the same breakfast (after a cup of coffee) about requesting that we pay twice because we moved tables.  I am not impressed, nor do I think that I want to belong to place “somewhere in time” where ever that is – I like living in a world where customers are valued.