Sunday, November 26, 2006

Got a Pulse? You've Got the Job! (part 1)

Like most employers in regional Australia, the Wayside Tavern has a chronic staff shortage.

The minerals boom, in particular the high wages offered for unskilled work, has drained the labour pool.

The core of the staff are holding the place together, however the pool of people who used to keep pubs (or any business) operating just aren't around anymore.

This is nothing more than the market at work, the mining industry pays more, & expects less, so people go to work there.

The Wayside Tavern has been outbid for staff. This Mine Host can live with. Wages at the Wayside Tavern are already quite high, and exceed what is paid to most Queensland public servants.

The choices faced by Mine Host are:
1/ Pay the same wages as the mining industry.
2/ Do not hire staff.
3/Continue with the current crop of people who are prepared to be employed at the Wayside Tavern.
4/ Find staff from outside the current labour pool.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Can't stop fiddling!

For many years Party Kegs were a service provided by the Wayside Tavern.

Delivery, supply of jugs & glasses (some of which would not be returned) educating the party host in how to pour beer from the keg, etc etc. All involved more effort than was reflected by the price charged.

Provision of Party Kegs is/was common practice for pubs, probably a once-a-year or less service to regular (& nice) customers.

Upon delivery to the customer's address, pub staff would negotiate several hurdles, including the following:
1/Demonstrating how to pour beer from a party keg (if it runs into a cup, it is pouring fine!)
2/Dealing with the misguided insistence from the customer to pack the keg into a bathtub of ice (or something like that).
3/Positioning the gas bottle & regulator where party goers cannot get to them.

The inevitable phone call would come later that night: "Sumfink's rong with the keg!" (For some reason this request for help was always delivered as a statement, NEVER as a question)

Having to leave the pub and attend a problematic party keg in the middle of the evening may seem like not much. However, either the bar has to be left short-staffed for a while, or an extra person rostered on for an entire shift. Neither is a palatable option (financially) for the pub.

"Something wrong with the keg" is almost always one of two things:
1/ The keg is empty.
2/ Someone has needlessly fiddled with the gas regulator.

No matter if the keg is empty, or if it is full, the matter will first have been handled by the party host (or someone else) "having a go" at "fixing" the "problem" by dismantling the tap & fittings.

These will be spread (o-ring by o-ring) accross a lawn in the dark, walked on, etc etc.

Just imagine trying to find some of these bits at midnight in a lawn.

A change of times saw party keg requests becoming less common, & mostly from non-customers, rather than regulars.

The Wayside Tavern always was the only pub in town which was prepared to provide party kegs.

So Mine Host took advantage of the change in the Party Keg customer base, and put up the price of a party keg to where it reflected the cost and inconvenience of providing it, and charged a hefty deposit on the ancillary equipment.

This more or less brought Party Keg sales to the desired level of NIL.

Finally it was happily decided to cease supplying party kegs altogether.

Because even experienced backyard party hosts are unable to:
1/ Order sufficient beer kegs to match the thirst of their guests, and
2/ Can't keep themselves from pulling apart perfectly functional equipment (once they have got a few sherbets under their belt.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bright as Pompeii at Midnight

Despite the wall beside the telephone being plastered with written instructions to the contrary, at 11.00pm a barmaid puts a call through to Mine Host's rooms.

The caller is refusing to identify themself, but claims to be a friend of Mine Host.

Too stupid to read the instructions by the phone, the barmaid has no concept that any call where the caller refuses to identify themself is likely to be a prank call, especially when it is near to midnight.

Wondering how soon he can replace the barmaid with another, Mine Host, ruefully thinking "Here we go again...." takes the call.

Prank calls do not worry Mine Host one bit, as they are physically harmless, and most prank callers are so incredibly stupid that with little or no input from Mine Host the caller will outwit themself.

Recognising the voice of Peter Shortcock, a local king-hit merchant who is barred from the premises, Mine Host detects also the sound of others. "Ah, I'm on speakerphone and a whole group of Shortcock's gang are gathered around, probably drunk, to listen to him call me names"

In a bored tone of voice Mine Host fends off attempts by the anonymous caller to obtain permission to enter the Wayside Tavern, & several other feeble efforts to outwit Mine Host.

Finally the voice gets around to asking about a few people who are barred from the Wayside Tavern. Mine Host declines to comment at any names, until the caller mentions "Peter Shortcock". At this Mine Host languidly mentions that the name fits, and that Shortcock is a "wanker" & a "softcock" (both trigger words in the circles in which the local morons mix)

At this the anonymous caller becomes heated & enraged, screams "Nobody calls me a wanker!" before remembering he is anonymous, and attempting a pathetic bland cover-up.

All calls to the Wayside Tavern are traced instantly a connection is made.

Mine Host reports an unwelcome call to Telecom. Three unwelcome calls from the same number and Telecom will write a letter to the subscriber asking them to show cause why the connection should not be terminated.

This is very effective if Shortcock was calling from his parent's house.