The global economic crisis was in full swing. It was early 2009 in the beautiful Welsh capital city of Cardiff and I was happy to be working in Head Entertainment, previously the iconic Virgin Megastore. Virgin Megastores had gone into administration a year previously but some entrepreneurs had saved it by creating Zavvi. On Christmas 2008, Zavvi had also fallen into administration, again to be saved and turned into Head Entertainment. My job was still fairly secure in the short term but everyone was looking for new employment. It was clear that my fairly short spell in the retail sector was slowly grinding to a halt, and that it was time to return to the industry I knew so well.
I had years of hospitality experience from my jobs in the Hilton Cardiff, Hilton Lyon, and a few years of management experience from the Intercontinental Hotel Group under the Holiday Inn banner, and the Thistle in Bristol. I had taken time out of hotels after becoming sick with Graves Disease. The auto immune deficiency had been misdiagnosed for 13 years of my life and in 2007, I almost died. I hit eight and a half stone and the doctors had been telling me my extreme shaking and weight-loss was normal. A beautiful woman G.P. named Dr Fournier was the person to diagnose me and I was put on block and replace medication. A few years later, I had radio active treatment to kill off part of my Thyroid gland. The consultant I had been seeing through-out my diagnosis thought the radio active iodine had worked but this was to prove incorrect.
The SAS Radisson Blu Hotel Cardiff
I was feeling almost normal by the time I applied to work in the Radisson Blu Cardiff, which was an opening hotel in Cardiff. They had two positions of Night Manager available and I had an excellent C.V. and all the perquisite experience. I knew that I would have a very good chance of getting the job and I was oozing confidence by the day of the first interview. I met Jason, the Front of House Manager, in the Park Inn Hotel opposite the site of the SAS Radisson Cardiff which was due to open in a month. Jason was a polite and obviously kind man who took a shine to my energy as soon as he met me. My only concern was the financial crisis was at its peak and I would be leaving a relatively stable job for an opening hotel. Jason assured me that the hotel was taking on a skeleton staff so that no early layoffs would happen if the economic crisis got worse. The first interview flew by and I was asked to the second interview soon after. There were multiple people in the second interview and it was again a successful affair. I would be offered the job and start training within weeks.
I was completely pumped about my new position, though I was very sad to be leaving the wonderful people whom had been my colleagues. This was a new stage of my life. My rocky relationship with a lovely French Asian girl was strengthened by the new career prospect, the financial crisis no longer looked worrying for me, and I felt like I was getting well for the first time in my adult life. The experience only seemed to get better when I met the other members of the team. They were in a fairly chaotic state at first, which I had already experienced when part of the opening team for the Hilton Group, but the hotel was coming along fine. The initial two weeks training, setting up, and opening preparation flew by and we were allowed to move into our actual position for more detailed training and dry runs.
The constant preparation had done a good job of distracting me from any downsides to the job. It wouldn't be long before the symptoms of my Graves Disease would return, slowly but noticeably. My eye's started to feel sore and my thermostat started going crazy. I would be having hot flushes on occasions which would make me sweat buckets but I had worked with these symptoms before. Our rotas were nine 'til five, Monday through to Friday so I couldn't get to my General Practitioner. I had to explain to them that the situation was awkward but not fatal. I would need a blood test to check my Thyroid levels and then the doctor could prescribe me the correct amount of block and replace medicine I would need to take. This would only take two visits to the my G.P. to sort out and then I won't be having any noticeable symptoms. Other than those visits, I wouldn't need any time off sick.
Here is where the attitude of my superiors changed quite rapidly. I had told them in both interviews that I had radioactive treatment, and if it failed, this would be the consequence. Within no time, I was taken away from the reception training and I was doing manual labour jobs to prepare for the opening. The Reception Manager, who was my direct manager, was a wonderful lady named Marlene. She was around my age and very dynamic but obviously overworked. She was an easy person to read because she was too nice to be a liar. We were setting up flat pack tables in the back office of reception when I asked her if everything was alright. I had sensed that there was something she wanted to ask me because she wasn't looking in my eye's anymore. She looked at me directly and said, "Would you like to be Junior Night Manager instead of Night Manager?" I laughed at the question and made a confused dog face. "Is there something that I've done wrong?" I asked, a little puzzled. "No, no, everything you've done has been perfect." I was still a little puzzled, "But you're asking me to take a demotion for no reason? I would never have taken the position if it was for 'Junior Night Manager' as that wouldn't help my career." Marlene looked embarrassed as though she had gotten it all wrong, "Don't worry," she said to me. "I was just looking for a solution." She left the back office with me completely spun out. I pretended not to hear her whisper to Jason who was waiting outside. "He wouldn't have taken the job if it was titled 'Junior Night Manager'," she whispered. Jason made an audible shushing sound, and dragged Marlene off to speak elsewhere.
I almost blocked it out of my conscious memory as it was such a weird moment. A girl from Cardiff, who was a receptionist, came into the back office and we continued to setup furniture. The weekend approached and I was going to a stag party. I'm not a fan of drinking but I knew there would be no way out of it this weekend. Just as I arrived at the forest venue on the Friday, Jason called me on my mobile. "You couldn't come into a meeting on Monday morning by any chance?" said Jason. "Is everything okay?" I asked. "Yes, it's nothing to worry about, just a normal meeting". I tried not to think about the Radisson Blu for the weekend of partying, but it was definitely weighing on me.
The Part Where I Killed Myself
I was so naive. I thought I was popping in to the hotel for a quick meeting before opening day. As I walked across the front of the hotel I saw Jason drinking a coffee on the first floor with the Human Resources Manager. We caught eye contact and I gave him a wave as I walked to the entrance. He got up straight away and that was when I first became suspicious that this was an ambush. Jason came down the front steps towards me with the HR Manager just behind. He welcomed me and led me to the lifts. I thought we must be going to the offices for this meeting, but he pressed the button for the 21st floor of the hotel. That move confirmed to me that this was an ambush. The lift took forever and there was little talking. I looked at Jason with a confused glance, he looked away and turned white. The door opened and confirmed to us that we had reached the top floor of the hotel. We went into one of the suites and the two of them sat opposite me. I was sitting on a sofa and looked out over Cardiff. There was rain on the windows and noises of workmen in the hallway. "Would you like a drink of water?" asked Jason. I shook my head.
"Why have you brought me here?" I asked, but I was aware that I was in the process of being fired for the first time in my life. "Well, unfortunately, we've had a set back with a flood in the hotel and so we'll have to have less staff," Jason muttered with a ghastly look of embarrassment written on his face. "But you assured me that you were taking on a skeleton crew so that you wouldn't have to fire anybody." My protest was met with a script like response from the Human Resources Manager who seemed much less apologetic. They offered me the pay they owed me but nothing else. I was entirely shocked by all of this. If I had known that it was this sort of meeting then I would have brought representation, but that's why they didn't inform me beforehand that it would be an "official" meeting. No letter was received explaining to me my rights previous to this meeting. They purposely worked off my naivety and kind nature.
They asked if I wanted to be left alone for a bit to come to terms with what was happening. I automatically said yes. They left the room and I stared out of the 21st floor window. Why take someone to the top floor of a skyscraper to fire them? I could see my body floating down the outside of the building and hitting the pavement below. The tears that rolled down my cheeks were for my relationship, for my flat, for my career, and for my own stupidity. I would not be able to get my old job back and I had only one months wage to help me survive. My rocky relationship would end because of a lack of financial security and I would spend the next few years in a heap of anxiety. I could barely trust any employer again. I'm not saying that the SAS Radisson Blu Cardiff has horrible rooms, or that most of the staff weren't lovely people. I'm saying that they succeeded in ruining my love for the hospitality sector, finished off my relationship, and temporarily destroyed my mental health for a long period of time.
Of course, as a bonus, the experience convinced me to put all my efforts into writing music, recording, producing, creating a band, and gigging. I've enjoyed myself more doing those things than I would have enjoyed working for a cut throat enterprise like the SAS Radisson Cardiff. However, for my experiences, they get to be my first "Cardiff Personal Review." I am aware that a few years ago they got a new General Manager but you can't polish a turd. I officially announce that The SAS Radisson Cardiff is the worst hotel to work in the Welsh City of Cardiff. Fuck you for ruining two years of my life in just one month.
Don't be like me.
In this situation, I had no recourse. I went from having a relatively secure job to unemployed because I trusted an employer like The SAS Radisson Cardiff. Don't make the same mistake and get your concerns written down early. Never attend a work meeting without representation or written notice, and if all else fails, then don't be afraid to tell your story and call out the culprits. This is the internet age and it's time that we begin to tell our stories.
If you have a story to tell about a business, letting agent, or official then get in touch and let me help you tell your story. It's time for us to review the employers, the crooks, the council, and any other organisation that will act in unethical or immoral ways. Contact me to discuss your stories at [email protected]