Tim Roxborogh on the joys of moaning about your holidays
Battles with hotel buffet toasters
I nearly burnt down the Chateau Tongariro. Not really something you want on your CV, especially given the grand old dame of New Zealand hospitality is one of my favourite hotels in the country, so you can imagine it was a fairly hairy moment.
As is so often the case when I'm at a hotel breakfast buffet, I was in that mad state of multitasking to gather as much food in as little time as possible before properly sitting down.
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The problem on this occasion was that I was in such a hurry that I'd somehow flung my two pieces of toast on top of each other on the toasting conveyor belt. This would've been fine if I'd been monitoring them on their slow journey towards the fun little slide that spits them out again, but I was off stacking food on to my other plates.
Tragedy struck: with toast slices standing two-tall on the conveyor belt, the bread hit the element-laced ceiling of the toaster, causing a blockage to rival the ones my school friends used to do on the hydro-slides at Parakai Hot Springs in the 90s. Only a blockage involving teenagers, water and the 90s tends to have less frightening consequences than toast, fire and the Chateau.
With me AWOL at the fruit stand, it was left to two beautifully calm French tourists to say, "excuse me sir, but I think this is your toast on fire?"
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I was about to panic and call for staff to come running with hoses and extinguishers, but meanwhile the cool 30-something French bloke and his lady had already flicked the off-switch at the wall before fearlessly hoisting the flaming slices out with tongs. With just a couple of breathy blows from my French saviours, the fire was out.
I didn't burn arguably the first great luxury hotel in Aotearoa to the ground and I didn't even break the toaster. But it served as a vaguely dramatic reminder that conveyor belt toasters at hotel buffets are often frustrating little beasts.
Too often, the belt is moving way too fast and your bread has to do several rides through before getting to the required level of toasting. Likewise, some other brazen guest may have changed the setting to "charcoal", and I'll be unaware my toast is in the process of being blackened beyond any marker of what constitutes "edible".
Then there's the odd dance hotel guests do with bread tongs. It's my controversial view that most of us use them more out of fear of being judged by other guests, as opposed to an unadulterated belief in the tong. As in, if you're worried about germs, everyone's hands are touching the tongs, whereas nimble fingers can remove breads of all varieties akin to playing Pick-Up-Sticks. Though come to think of it, if there'd been no tongs I might just have burned down the Chateau after all.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com.