Have you ever been to a nice dinner party? In case you haven’t, just imagine…
You walk into a dimly lit room and see dozens of tables all set in a very precise manner. There are beautifully folded napkins, water glasses already waiting for you, and wine ready to be served.
There is a menu card so you can read over the night’s offerings, and many different types of silverware at each seat. This may cause you to have a Pretty Woman moment in your head and count the number of tongs to determine which fork to use first. (Really, 95% of the time, just start from the outside, work your way in, and you’ll be fine).
Dinner progresses. You eat your salad, it’s removed by a server, and then replaced with your main course. You eat that, the plate’s removed, and then out comes dessert. Coffee is served around the table. You enjoy the atmosphere, the company, the food, and then leave at the end of the night.
Have you ever wondered what happens next?
What happens to all the beautiful place settings, the centerpieces, the menu cards, and the leftover desserts?
Madness is what happens.
This was the scene in the break-down area from about 7:30pm until 10pm last night as a plated dinner for 400 guests went on and eventually came to an end:
The event went very smoothly. Clean up did not.
Trying to communicate to a staff of 20+ which of the four types of different (yet very similar looking) water glasses should be placed into the solid red glass rack versus the gray and red striped rack versus the solid gray rack is extremely difficult.
And that’s just the water glasses. I also had two styles of wine glasses and five styles of plates to deal with. I tried pictures. I tried labeling the various racks. Eventually I gave in and said to just put the glasses wherever because they’ll all end up at the rental company’s warehouse anyway. C’est la vie.
This dinner was for 400 people. I determined that each place setting was made up of 13 items (the different silverware, plates, and glasses). That’s a total of 5200 items to get returned. Add that to the hundreds of extra glasses and plates that were ordered as backups, and I think I had close to 8000 pieces of rental inventory. Oh, and then with the all linen and plate covers — make it almost 11,000 pieces. Oy.
If you know of any magic cleaning fairies, let me know. I’ll hire them. Until then, I’ll just hope that the rental company doesn’t call to complain.