Thursday, December 11, 2003


The other night when catering I was told the last line
in the world one wants to hear, "They need you in
coat check." This can never be a good sign. The
captain always puts more than enough people on
coat check and if he pulls someone off the floor to
run to coat check it means it is a mad house beyond
human control. And it was.

If you don't set up an organized system at the start
of the night in regards to coat check you are SCREWED.
Especially if you work a party of over five hundred people
and it's New York and everyone has a black coat, and is
carrying about 10,000 bags (their gym bag, sample sale
bag, change of shoes, laptop, etc.) The exterior table of
where you hand in your ticket to retrieve your coat may
appear calm but I can tell you the back room looks and
sounds like a Wall Street trading floor.

"I gotta Coach bag, black Coach bag white stitching,
ticket #498, 498 anyone? anyone? Coach bag? Coach

"I gotta #239, 239 male trenchcoat -empty hanger
anyone? Anyone? 239, empty hanger, empty hanger?"

Trust me. You've never felt a pit in your stomach until
you've gone to retrieve someone's mink coat and are
met with an empty hanger.

When you get to a party's coat check, there is a hanger
waiting for you with two tickets on it. One ticket is for
you and one is for the person working coat check to
use as reference in finding your coat in the masses.

Lines of the night I don't enjoy hearing include:

"Um...hey...sorry. I lost my ticket. It should be pretty
simple to find. Black, long, woman's jacket..."

"Can I just step back there and help you find it?"

Nor do I enjoy this exchange which happens a million
times, "Did you check a bag with your coat sir?"

(talking to friend distracted) "Um...sir?"

"Ah...yes- a black one."

Searching. Searching. Searching. Searching. Searching.

"Sir-I was able to find your coat but can you please
describe your bag?"

"I didn't check a bag." (walks off talking and no tip)

In the backroom people are running and I mean running.
This particular party's coat room was prob the length of
half of one New York City block-which is LONG. We were
searching for bags, umbrellas, snow shoes, dog leashes,
hats, gloves, ear muffs, laptops, poster tubes and just
about anything that people feel the need to check in at
a party.

There is a lot of climbing over bags and no air and taking
down heavy, heavy loads of winter coats on hangers and
moving them places. There are a lot of bags with long
scarves loosely attached and falling off. There are purses
and messenger bags not properly closed. There are lipsticks
rolling out. Newspapers stuffed in jacket pockets. People
please! It's hot. My sweaty face sticks to all the wool. There
is a lot of cursing.

Major Do and Don't regarding the coat check:



She will never say yes.


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