Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Many moons ago I landed a job in a hotel in Switzerland. My mother had been working nearby and on one of the occasions that she dropped in for a meal she got talking to the manageress and found out she needed a waitress with bar experience, so a couple of months later I arrived and settled into learning how to wait on people in 'Schweizer Deutsch'.
Apart from a few teething problems with language problems I soon got the hang of it and after a month or so I'd pretty much got to grips with the job.
One day however, I had a day off and my mum decided she'd take me over to a restaurant in Austria that she liked so I grabbed my passport and off we went.
It was at the Border that I had a look at my passport. For some reason I'd only got a 'one year' one rather than the full 'ten year issue' and this is where the whole problem began.
Reading the terms and conditions of my 'one year passport' I discovered that I was not allowed to work in a foreign country unless I got myself a full passport, so my mum quickly made a couple of calls to a friend and got the address of the British Consulate in Geneva so I could write to them and tell them that while I'd been out on holiday on my 'one year pass' I'd gained lawful employment, and please could they send me a full ten year passport ASAP.
Fortunately, I was told that there would be no problems with that and my new, shiny, ten year pass would be with me within a fortnight, woohoo!
Except that there was a bit of a problem, and it was with the local Swiss Police.
The manageress of the hotel was by law required to supply work papers for every one of her employees and as soon as I'd arrived she'd applied for them. The papers would usually all be in order within a month in the case of a foreign person coming in to work, so she would have to show the local rozzers my papers very soon.
In order to receive my papers she had to produce my passport.
A passport that would arrive in two weeks time.
This is where things got 'interesting'.
The main problem with the local coppers is that because the hotel's restaurant was very popular and also on their route, they would often pop in for a snack or a drink whilst on duty.
As I wasn't supposed to be there without a valid passport I would have to go and hide every time we saw a police car heading up the mountain towards us, but as it was an extremely slow part of the season with very few guests and so staying, that wasn't much of a problem and I'd usually just go and take a quick break until they'd gone again.
The regulars knew about the situation and thought it hilarious and would on occasion sneak up behind me and shout 'Polizei!' while I was holding a tray of coffees or similar.
I soon learnt the local lingo for 'Sod off you gits', by the way.
So anyway, in the main, things were alright unless the rozzers turned up and found me working before my passport arrived.
Until a family booked in for the weekend.
It was unusual for anyone to be staying at that time of the year, but mummy, daddy and the two point four kiddies had been visiting family in Austria, heard about the hotel and decided to stay for a while instead of heading straight back to the other side of Switzerland. Gods alone knew why as there was sweet F.A to do round the area at the time, but decide to stay they did.
The first thing that they must have thought 'odd' was when I was dragging my laundry bag down to the laundry. I had a very large load to be done as not only did my clothes need doing, but all my towels and so were in the bag too and it took me rather an effort to drag the bag through the bar where they were having breakfast.
I was off duty at the time, but one of the regulars stopped by and jokingly called out to me 'What have you got in the bag then Misty, a body or something?'
I replied with a wry smile and was about to say 'Of course not' but then spotted a police car heading towards the car park.
Renewing my efforts, I dragged the heavy bag towards the kitchen area where the laundry chute was, shoved it in and legged it upstairs before the cops came in for their coffees.
As I scampered back through the bar I noticed that the family were looking at me with rather raised eyebrows for some reason.
Later that day there was a party planned and although it was still my day off, I'd been asked if I could help out with the preparation for the do and being the nice person I am I agreed.
So that evening at about 18:00 hours I was helping out behind the bar and also in the kitchen if needed.
18:00 hours was also the time the family decided they were going to have their dinner.
I still couldn't figure out why they seemed rather nervous when I showed up but didn't give it much though and gave them a friendly smile as I said 'Good evening'.
A little while later, one of the other waitresses needed to chop up some lemons for the drinks and asked the kitchen staff if they had a knife she could use. As I was in the kitchen I called out that I had a knife and would bring it to her, but as I walked into the bar holding the thing, guess what happened?
Yep, one of the local police walked through the door, so as quick as I could I dropped the knife in the sink and legged it back to the safety of the kitchen.
This was also noticed by the family, although they hadn't heard why I was bringing the sharp piece of pointy metal into the bar.
All perfectly innocent, but you can imagine what they must have been thinking.
Worse was yet to come though.
The next day was Sunday and they were due to leave the next day.
Sundays at the hotel were lovely and quiet at that time of year with mostly only the locals around during the day with the occasional guests turning up for lunch or dinner.
I was back on duty when the family came down to breakfast, and apart from the sous chef I was the only person on duty at that time.
Now another point to this tale is that most of the locals were farmers and we would often get our meat, eggs and milk and so fresh from the nearby farms.
That morning one of the farmers was due to drop off a delivery and he called in advance to say that as he was running late, he'd drop the package off by the front door and toot his horn to let us know it was there.
A short while later I heard the toot and as the sous chef was in the middle of cooking, I went to get the package.
I hadn't been told what the delivery was, but looking inside I found half a side of fresh pork that was for a barbecue the next day.
Sighing to myself, I grabbed the bag and managed to get the thing up the stairs and into the hall leading to the bar.
From there I decided it would be easiest to drag the piece of pig through to the kitchen via the bar where yes, the family were still breaking their fast.
As I passed their table I gave them yet another of my friendliest smiles but was met with expressions of total shock.
Confused, I carried on dragging the side of pork through to the kitchen whereupon I looked down and realized that the bag had leaked and not only was there blood all over my apron, I'd left a trail of the stuff right through the bar where they'd been eating.
Trying not to laugh at what they must have been thinking I dashed back out to try and explain, but they'd left the table with their breakfasts only half touched.
I changed my apron, cleared up the blood and explained what had happened, including the bits with the laundry and the knife to the manageress when she came down an hour or so later.
She found the whole situation hilarious and said that she'd try and explain to the family when she next saw them.
The family came back for lunch, but the manageress was caught up with making the telephone orders for the coming week and didn't get a chance to explain about things until it was time for the staff lunch break.
Now, the family were dining in the posh bit of the restaurant which led off from the bar area where I and the kitchen staff sat down to eat.
She was about to explain when suddenly the chef spotted yet another police car heading up the mountain and shouted out 'Polizei! Misty, leg it!', and grabbing my plate I scarpered into the back function room to hide.
That was the last straw.
The family had just finished eating and before the manageress could explain the father went up to her and asked for the bill as they'd decided to leave earlier than planned, although they didn't say why.
My passport arrived the next week and the hiding from Das Polizei came to an end, although I still got teased by the locals about the amount of bodies I had hidden in the cellar and asked if I'd added to my collection.
But if any of the family that stayed at that hotel are reading this, it really was all perfectly innocent.