The Maître d’

by Adam Acidophilus

A tumbledown hotel in a crumbling resort was desperate to raise its profile — to enhance its reputation, and turn around its inevitable descent into oblivion.

“What this place needs … ” the manager mused, “is a host, a ringmaster, a khansama!

“What this place needs … ” his chef suggested, “is a maître d’!”

On a limited budget, a maître d’ was obtained from a local agency; but the hotel had the dubious privilege of obtaining a recruit who was young and ambitious and terribly committed; and who, perhaps unfortunately, possessed a book entitled HOW TO BE THE PERFECT MAÎTRE D.

On the second night, in the hotel dining room, the lad showed his mettle.

“Maître!” called a guest — for already their custom was growing. “I fear that the waiter has served my yoghurt with a soup spoon.”

“So he has,” agreed the Maître d’. “I shall dismiss him this instant!”

The Maître dismissed the waiter — who had been with the hotel for years — and the old man staggered home, baffled, and never worked again.

“You can’t let that kid fire your staff just like that!” the chef complained to the manager.

“I think he just did,” sighed the manager. “And if I were you, I’d look out!”

The chef was spurred into action — fearful for his job, distrustful of his masters — and wary of his spoons.

In the meantime the Maître d’ stalked the hotel dining room, scowling at the staff, sneering at the table linen and growling at the cutlery.

“Maître!” called another guest, a few days later. “These breadsticks are cold!”

“Cold breadsticks?” snapped the Maître d’. “Remove the under-waitress!”

“Maître!” called another guest, another few days after that — for trade was rapidly expanding. “These condiments are not in alphabetical order! The vinegar is plainly out of sequence!”

“Disgraceful!” agreed the Maître d’. “Disengage the replacement under-waitress!”

“Maître!” cried a third guest — a matter of hours later — for customers were queuing around the block just to witness this remarkable disciplinarian in action. “My fish has been served pointing west. This is an affront to my religion, and an insult to my people and our culture!”

“My humblest grovellings,” conceded the Maître d’. “I shall whip the waiter immediately — unless of course you’d like to do it yourself?”

The waiter was whipped. The under-waitress was removed. The replacement under-waitress was disengaged. Their fortunes were turned, their hearts were broken, their lives were blighted. And all because of the power-hungry, pain-crazed, arse-creeping Maître d’.

“And he’s only seventeen!” sobbed the under-waitresses. “What a cunt!”

“You know … ” the chef whispered to the manager, “that fish was pointing north. Breadsticks are never warmed up. There is no convention of placing condiments in alphabetical order. He must be stopped. Soon. It will be one of us next. There is no such thing as a yoghurt spoon!”

But the manager was silent: an impotent prisoner in a passive-aggressive vortex of his own creation. It was only a matter of time before his feeble foible would turn to fable.

The following night an ambitious diner called to the Maître d’. The dining room fell silent at once.

“These peppers in my soup have clearly been baked in olive oil,” he complained, “rather than sweated in a butter vapour with notes of wild rosemary and a charcoal undercurrent!”

“Why so they have!” agreed the Maître d. “I shall have the chef struck off!”

“The chef — ” sneered the diner, “is merely the symptom of a higher inefficiency.”

The Maître d’ hesitated. “I mean … the manager,” he added. “Obviously the manager will be tending his resignation.”

“Resignation?” repeated the diner.

“I mean confession,” coughed the Maître d’. “The manager and the chef shall confess … and then they shall be … executed.”

“Executed?” sniffed the diner.

“And their families,” agreed the Maître d’. “The immediate families tonight — the more distant relatives shall be sought out in the coming days.”

“Good,” said the diner. “That’ll be all.” And the diners returned to their dining.

“See?” murmured the chef.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said the manager. “Whoever heard of a chef and manager being executed for preparing peppers incorrectly?”

The chef and the manager were executed. Their families suffered the same fate. More distant members of their families were tracked down.

And the Maître d’ went from strength to strength; working in better hotels; exacting standards, unleashing punishments — and his authority was never challenged.

Moral: You see? You thought he was going to get his comeuppance, didn’t you? But they don’t you know. Only in the movies. The world is full of people like that — and they get away with it. You should pay more attention …

© Adam Acidophilus 2015