12. Challenging Behaviour (with some unrelated photos)

The older boys left at 5.30am last Saturday. I tried to stop referring to them by that term as one was several years younger than us. Our challenging guest (CG) had booked his skis out for that Saturday morning, so obviously wouldn’t be leaving until later in the day and probably expecting to avail himself of the chalet facilities, well after check-out time. We arrived back after our day off to a bit of a mess on that morning, but it has certainly been worse. We hadn’t finished clearing all the gubbins off the dining table, in advance of wiping and resetting it for breakfast, before our CG sat at it and proceeded to tell us that he had ‘an arrangement with the owner’ to come back and shower in the chalet after skiing on check-out day. He read us an email he had received which, whilst saying that we didn’t offer that facility, said that Roger and I were so obliging that we would probably be able to squeeze him in somewhere! He then stated that he’d like a boiled egg. Roger informed him that the eggs would be scrambled that day, which was the plan, he wasn’t being contrary, nor did he suggest where he could shove it.

I felt compelled to send the owner an email which Roger had to modify, if we didn’t want to be sacked. I wasn’t so sure at that point whether I would have been bothered if we had been. I merely stated that we would appreciate it if he didn’t suggest or infer to prospective guests that we can allow more than to just let them leave their bags in the chalet after 9.30am on changeover days. Whilst he knows that we try to accommodate them as much as possible this is not always feasible and to please not give anyone the impression that they may be able to have a shower. I outlined the rather awkward situation at 7.30 that morning, whilst we were trying to clear up the chalet after our day off and get breakfast prepared. I pointed out that we did not have capacity, even for a single one, to use the facilities after check-out time any more than we would 3 or 4 people, unless we have particularly low arrival occupancy, 12 people were due.

Whilst we appreciated his comments about us being flexible, we now looked completely the opposite as we have had to tell CG (as we tell all other guests) that he can only leave his bags in the boot room and use the sauna as the changing room, provided it is before 3.30pm i.e. before the incoming guests are entitled to check in and use the sauna, if they so wish. 

I also reminded him that we do try to be accommodating but were taken advantage of last year by a guest on a similar arrangement as CG, but who didn’t like the weather on the departure Saturday so spent the afternoon sprawled on the sofa in the chalet, which meant we couldn’t take our own well-earned break in peace. If we give people an inch they try to take a mile, even last weekend we gave his own mates an additional half hour to be clear of the chalet and they invited a friend in to the chalet for coffee when they could have left at the designated time and met her at Indiana (I may have mentioned that.) These situations reduce our inclination to be flexible at all. I added that his wife’s previous email to us stated explicitly that CG knew he could only leave his bag in the chalet and that we all need to be saying the same thing to everyone.

All in all I think he got away lightly but when CG raised it again on Friday night I just phoned the owner and told him to deal with it directly. CG got a bit arsey with us and stated that it wasn’t much to expect a shower when he’d been sharing a bathroom all week. Fortunately we’d already received his feedback form as I countered with asking if it was absolutely essential that he have second shower before travelling. End of conversation.

This guy wasn’t as bad as I may be making him sound but he didn’t really ingratiate himself to us, particularly after the fiasco with leaving his water backpack on the bus. We ask guests to fill water containers from their bathroom taps as the water is from the same supply and they always seem to want to fill up in the kitchen every morning just as we are trying to do the washing up from breakfast. However, he said he couldn’t get his water bottle under the tap in the bathroom so asked to use the kitchen whereby he proceeded to empty the existing water via the drinking tube, holding the bag above his head like an emergency IV infusion. I’m sure that the plug hole was accessible in his bathroom.

Sunday morning he accused us of not locking the main door behind us when we left on Saturday evening (after a mere 15 hour shift so I claim complete brain shut-down, anything might have happened) because he could open it, the following morning, from the inside. It has a key code lock on the outside but the guests are not actually locked in!

I wont subject you to my bare bruised thigh!

The morning after my pretty horrendous fall, when I’d not made it in for evening service the previous night, he asked after my hip as I clung to the kitchen work surface, supporting myself on one leg, followed immediately with a request for a bowl of porridge first (Roger was downstairs collecting items from the store cupboard). He must have considered that I could make a miraculous recovery and was lucky he didn’t get it flung across the table one handed. My tolerance levels may have been affected at this time.

He was frequently first into the bootroom in the morning but still not ready by the time everyone else who wanted a lift up in the van had got their boots on and gathered their kit. Roger even took his skis up to the van, telling him he needed to bring his poles, which he promptly left behind. We do not give lifts up to the ski area on changeover day, they’re meant to be leaving and we have to do transfers for Ben’s Bus. On his ‘departure day’ he wanted to cadge a lift but nearly made the departing guest miss his bus as again, he wasn’t ready in time. He booked a ski lesson for 9am on the Friday. The local bus leaves at 8.40 and our first run up is 9am but he asked Roger if he was ‘willing’ to take him up in time for his ski lesson (during breakfast), to which Roger had to reply ‘no’. A very adept use of words, rather than ‘are you able?’ or ‘would it be possible?’. Instead it appeared that Roger was unwilling, which is not true, he is much more accommodating than I am.

Even the other guests, who he had joined to ski with, were getting a little fraught with him. One stated explicitly that he’d be glad to see the back of him. He didn’t endear himself to them when he tested their knowledge of who wrote and performed the Minute Waltz at the breakfast table during a conversation about the radio show ‘Just a Minute’, strangely no-one knew (or cared.) This was on the morning of the same day earmarked for the old boys’ annual quiz, to which everyone had been invited (including us) and he proceeded to win. As a Chartered Surveyor he did have an advantage on the round on Iconic Buildings. Anyone who can actually utter the words ‘I thought I’d died and gone to concrete heaven’ is actually on another planet, which we could excuse, but what was unforgivable was stating, on the second evening, that we were a good example for the case to ‘bring back servants’!

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