Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Last Sunday at Cornell

We began the day with brunch with Mr. Crossley. I was surprised to see that we were able to see the same server , Lauren, we met two weeks ago when we ate at the Statler's Taverna Banfi. As a group, we were able to discuss over how each of us felt about our respective courses. It was nice to hear some of the stories from Freedom and Justice and hear them in person how they felt. I mean, I have read their blogs, but talking about it in person gives a totally different feeling.

It was incredibly busy this morning at the restaurant, so our server kept getting caught up with the various guests. It was difficult for her to reach us, since we were seated at the table in the back of the room. However, that should be no excuse. I felt uncomfortable to know that I would be the last one served. For instance, when I needed some water, our server was no where to be found. She was always checking up on our table the first time we ate at the Statler. Should it be because of the many more parties she had to wait on?

Sundays are normally homework days for me and that is exactly what I ended up doing. All day, I have been reviewing the readings we have been doing for homework, as the professors said we will have a quiz on them this week, unsure of which day, but better get to studying today. The professors also assigned for us to committ some type of service for homework. We must service someone as if they were a guest. I forgot about that until my friend reminded me. Then I thought about what I did today and what I did yesterday. It seems I have already completed the assignment. When we went to brunch this morning, I ended up clearing up all of my plates and utensils and gathered them in a pile so it is a little easier for Lauren to take away. I even gathered Julia's little dish she used for her dessert and piled it on top of my stack of used dishes. I would like to say that was service, but I am not quite sure. I am thinking of things I could do tonight that could apply as service, just as a back up.

Tomorrow is the start of our last week. I am beginning to feel a bittersweet sort of feeling. I am going to make this final week the best. Finish it off with a bang.

Guess the foot! A little something we did after brunch.



  1. Thanks Louisa, I will pass on the foot test. I am glad that you want to finish up on a strong note. I hope that you do so as well.

    The remainder of your Sunday will be comprised of working to complete your homework assignments. I hope that you are taking something of value away from the Hotel Operations course. I can sense that the class has challenged you and that you are a more knowledgable student due to attending Cornell this summer.

    However, what I am curious about is where you see yourself in a few months. You can take the easy route and saw that I will just apply to the UC's and Stanford. That is straightforward and simple. No problem with that and unless you state otherwise I assume that is correct.

    If not, then why not? Has this experience gave you room to pause and consider schools outside the State of California. Last year, this program definitely convinced several students that they wanted to remain close to home.

    Not surprisingly, 3 out of every 4 students in the Ivy League Connection program are attending a school within California. So I have no illusions that this year will be any different. However, I want to hear what you feel about just having the Ivy League Connection in California and not venturing back East.

    California has strong programs at Stanford and other small liberal arts colleges. Would it be a better use of the sponsors resources just to stay close to home. Give me your thoughts?

    I hope that cleaning up the table and stacking dishes does not count as service. However it may, but I would think that something more demanding would be seen as complying with the request. You may want to ask your RA for suggestions.

    By the way when you return to Hercules what will you do for the final month prior to returning to Hercules High School for your Senior year? Do you have big plans?

    By the way, nothing spectacular happened with the Fireworks show here in town. So, I guess that makes two of us for having an uneventful July 4th.

    Take care.

    Charles T. Ramsey

  2. Louisa,

    You’ve been studying the hotel business these past couple of weeks so what can you gather from your experience at The Statler this morning?

    You’ve been studying profitability and devising ways to attract more clients so surely you’ve analyzed the situation from today and have some thoughts about it.

    For instance, did you think that Lauren was doing her job poorly or was she overloaded with more customers than she could reasonably handle?

    If she was doing her job poorly, shouldn’t management do something to remedy this or even terminate her employment? If she was overloaded, wouldn’t it have been prudent for management to schedule enough staff to handle the expected crowd? Surely their internal survey of their trends would tell them whether a Sunday brunch would be a peak time for customers.

    As a customer, was the service poor enough for you to tell others of your dissatisfaction? Oh, wait—you’ve already told the world that the service at The Statler on Sunday mornings sucks.

    What do you suppose this will do for the profitability of the hotel when their business diminishes die to the poor review you’ve given them?

    Can you see how cutting back on service to save a couple of bucks can reduce future income (and profits) by an even higher amount? Where’s the balance between saving on employee costs and maximizing revenue?

    Also, if Lauren was your server, shouldn’t she be devoting herself to taking and delivering orders? She’s hired to perform a specific task—a task that requires specific skills, demeanor, attitude and even appearance. When it comes to bussing tables by refilling water glasses and coffee cups or removing your plates, isn’t that a task where a lower paid employee performing solely manual labor might be better utilized?

    Can you see how a re-organization of staffing might have prevented this discussion and The Statler being placed on the “Do Not Patronize” list?

    Can you see, Louisa, how the education doesn’t stop once you leave your classroom? Don’t worry, there’ll be no extra charge for this brief tutorial.

    By the way, I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. There’s no way I’m going to take this foot test. I would have to factor in short stubby toes, well pedicured toenails, fancy shoes and even the placement of the feet in the photo and being the worldly guy that I am I KNOW that this is just a trap. Well, go try to trap someone else because this dummy’s not biting.

  3. I got a great laugh out of this post. Nice way to finish. You see that I did not bite on the podiatrist questionnaire either.

    Great post about the Hotel Operations. It would be smart to revisit the front desk and submit a written response to the service that was provided this morning. The restaurant usually has a customer satisfaction form. I would complete one, make a copy and turn it into class for the McCarthy's to see. They would be impressed that you are paying attention to your environment and how service is being delivered by the students.

    It would also be "sweet justice". Remember she was very opinionated with our group when I was in town two weeks ago. No this is not about getting back, but it is to show her that our confidence has grown immensely in two weeks.

    A very inspiring post Don. I was just sitting around reading more coverage about the resignation of former Republican Vice President Sarah Palin resigning as the Govenor of Alaska. So glad that I got this well written and helpful post.

    By the way, what is expected during the final week for the Hotel Operations Course. I have no idea about what they will do for their final project. Any information would be appreciated.

    I guess you all are at Office Hours, so I hope that it is going well. I have to give the professors credit. They work very hard at Cornell. I see that they are passionate about their work.

    Take care.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District

  4. Louisa,

    I agree with what Charles suggested about registering your concerns. To me, this would be a better 'service' item than stacking your plates.

    Remember, though, that if you're coming across as an angry customer you'll get one type of response but if you alert management that a problem exists and offer suggestions, you’re no longer perceived as the whining customer and seen as someone who’s trying to fix a problem.

    There’s a time for both but now may be the time for the latter. What do you think?

  5. Louisa,

    Thanks for the opportunity to enter your new class the "Psychology of Footwear" -- I will tell you this: we have three very "utilitarian" footwear choices and three more "adventureous - fashion-forward" choices -- but I'm not matching them up more than that without a personality scorecard.

    In my day job as a teacher, my class is "Customer Service" and we spend on anaylzing customer experiences and the feedback mechanisms the corporations have put in place to track them -- comment cards, websites.

    The Statler's motto is: "Experience 'A Little More, A Little Better Service'"

    One of the most important aspects of customer service is "the recovery" -- or how they respond to criticism/suggestions. I suggest that you test their "recovery" by emailing them( with an explanation of your experience.

    They are particularly interested in guest testimonials (they have a part of their website devoted to sharing them) -- so they should also be interested in yours. I also think this is the most constructive thing any customer can do -- share the problem and give them an opportunity to respond and recover your business.

    Then, print a copy of the email out and share it with your professors. Also, be sure to note and share the response you receive.

    As I'm sure your professors have shared, unhappy customers are more likely to share their experiences with others and need to be responded to immediately -- let's find out the Statler protocol.

    Let us know what happens.