Archive for November, 2009

“One Moment Please”

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The biggest challenge I experienced in the United States was a language barrier.  Some people speak fast or not clear, or both; it might be difficult to understand from the first time not only for me as a foreigner but also for a native speaker.

When I just started to work at the Marriott as one of the front desk associates, one of my first tasks at work was answering the phone calls from both outside and inside lines. I was a part of “At Your Service” desk. Despite the fact that I already had an experience talking English on the phone it was completely different and I have to admit that the first call I have got was a complete disaster. My German teacher liked to say “Practice makes perfect” and she was right. Time passes by, you get thousands of calls every day and you do get better, no “Ehh” “Mmm” sounds, no “One moment please” while you trying to understand what he just said and no nervous expectation of the future calls.

I had some situations on the phone at the Marriott, particularly with the room service orders; I have to say that food and beverages are my weak point. I remember once I ordered a burger for one woman at about 8 o’clock in the morning (I don’t know why I thought it is normal for Americans to eat such food for breakfast) instead of scrambled eggs with French toast.  As a result I have been given a tour to the kitchen leading by the general manager of the hotel. Another situation was when someone asked if we serve a “gluten” free products at some conference which was held in the hotel. I had no idea what gluten is as noone in Ukraine cares about it much when it is something obvious in America.

There is another situation. I have a call from, let’s say room 611.

The guest is asking me:

– Can I have a cot, please?
– Certainly, I will ask bellman to deliver it to your room within the next hour.
– Oh. Really? So long. Is it possible to get it any time sooner?
– Bellman will be as soon as he can for you, madam.

I was trying to understand why woman was so surprised to wait for a cot one hour as it was about 11 am. I decided to consult with native speaker in case I misunderstood. I was very surprised two minutes later with the fact that guest actually wanted a “cart”!!! No wonder she expected it right away!

Food Preferences

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

When I visited the United States for the first time I was really shocked by the amount of fast food and the fat people everywhere. I cannot say that Ukrainian people all skinny and healthy but their diet is much better. I noticed that I cannot even stay in supermarkets much longer because I still could smell fast food which was making me sick.

Living in America for five months I finally get used to seeing it everywhere; people who are stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts at 7 o’clock in the morning are not surprising me anymore, I just find it amusing.

Dunkin DonutsI also found out that Americans love cheese, any type of cheese in any type of food. Once I was in Chinese restaurant and I ordered noodles which came with cheese on top. I don’t know since when Chinese started to eat cheese? My suggestions to everyone who is not a great fan of this product, if you are at the restaurant, specify if you don’t want cheese with your meal or would like to have a little bit of it.

I really like that you can always get free water in the USA if you are at the restaurant of cafe. Americans love all the drinks with ice and it does not matter if it is summer or winter all the drinks will be cold with a big amount of ice. Again the best way is simply to ask for water with no ice as I do :).