The Night Shift

Hello there bloggity type people! Yup, been a long time. The last two months have just been a flurry of changes and activity that has shattered my fledgling blogging habit. My apologies. So let’s get caught up! This Thursday will be the end of my fourth week at my new job. This last four weeks also involved a pretty major move too a much bigger house. We’re still renters but it still feels very grown up for us.

The new job has been amazing. The first week was a little terrifying. The difference from my last property to my new one is like a minor league ball player getting moved up to the big leagues. I felt a little like I was on an episode of Sliders and I had just slid onto an alternate world. This world looks like my home dimension in most every respect, but there are tinny subtle but sometimes mind bending differences.

The differences from a 41 room independent boutique resort in the country to a 600 room luxury major brand city hotel are enormous, but absolutely what I was looking for. The commute for the first week, before we moved, was a hellish 2 hours on top of the mental strain of all the new information I had to absorb. Since moving I’ve settled in and found my legs. My training is semi complete, but they’ve already thrown me to the wolves, having me work solo manager shifts after about a week, which felt entirely too soon, but I survived.

Our move left us within a 5 minute drive of a BART train station, it’s still a 50ish minute ride from there, but so much better to me then even a 30 minute car ride (mostly). I get to kick back and watch TV shows on Netflix or hulu, or stuff I downloaded. I already caught up on the new series of Sherlock riding the train. Kinda nice. Not Sherlock. Sherlock was fraking amazing! It just leaves me constantly wishing that series was awesome. Totally looking forward to the US CBS remake…no not really! Shut up! Riding BART has been kinda nice. I don’t have to worry about falling asleep behind the wheel, that’s a huge plus. And so far writing this blog post on my Xoom has been nice.

At the moment I’m sitting on BART ridding in for my first of four training graveyard shifts this week. That’s something I’m not looking forward to, but I knew it was going to be a requirement when i took the job. I did one training night audit at my last job, I’m not afraid of the work, if anything at this job I’m looking forward to the potential for crazy guest stories I might get to live through, I’m just not looking forward to the hours. I love my sleep! More importantly I love sleeping next to my wife in our new king sized bed!

My fellow BART riders have been interesting at times. Things I’ve seen have included, a crazy lady screaming at the entire train in some Asian language and English curse words. A wandering street preacher guy walking down the train telling us damnation was coming to us all. And yesterday a four man team running a classic shell con game. I never knew that people still did that, I thought it was just a TV thing now. And what’s amazing is people fell for it! Really!? How is that still possible? Stupid. And St Patrick’s Day night was not a pretty sight. Drunk people everywhere.

Anyways, I hope to make blogging on my commute a more regular practice, since I never have time at work any more…and web filters to worry about. Thanks everyone!

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Dress to Impress

Women go crazy for a sharp dressed man

So in my previous post I mentioned that I had been job interviewing lately. This last Wednesday one of my prospective employers and ask me for my salary requirements. I hate this situation quite frankly. I don’t want to undersell myself, but I also don’t want to spout off some ridiculously big number that’s going to totally turn them off. Put on the spot I gave them a number that was a little bit less than my absolute bottom dollar. They said it was a realistic number and said they would be back in touch later that night or the next day. I figured the one saving grace in this situation is given that the hotel is part of a major management company brand, their corporate HR wouldn’t let them pay me less than what their Standard Operating Procedures say is the “minimum” for the position.

It has to be an important phone call to pull me away from lobster!

Wednesday crawls by for me as I rehash the 45 second conversation over and over again. My wife and I meet up and drive to dinner with her parents to celebrate her mother’s birthday. Shortly after we arrive (late) my beautiful new Droid RAZR starts to vibrate and the sound of the TARDIS coming in for a landing starts to warble from my phone. I whip my phone out at the table and seeing the caller ID know instantly that it’s my prospective employer. I slide my finger across the screen to answer it and nothing happens. The touch screen has frozen! I start to stab my finger at the screen trying to get a response and verbally threaten to throw the damn thing against the wall as the call continues to ring and finally goes to voicemail. By this time I have committed to restarting the phone and as it reboots I excuse myself from the table to go listen to the message and hopefully return the call.

Maybe I should start wearing bow ties. One out of 11 Doctors say that bow ties are cool.

The call was everything I hoped for and more. I had trouble not bursting into giddy laughter when she told me the salary, because it was substantially more than what I asked for. I officially accepted the position on the spot, and happily so. I knew that the other property I had been interviewing with wouldn’t be able to beat the number, because of their size and location. So she spelled out the “offer” for me over the phone while I did a quiet little happy dance outside the Red Lobster.

Finished with the call, I strode back into the restaurant. As I rounded the corner to my family’s table I put on a mock “defeated” look on my face and slumped my shoulders. Just to fake them out. I didn’t let the charade last long and the dinner turned from a pure birthday party to a partial celebration of my new position.

Today my dear wife and I went clothes shopping. My current property is a big resort, and fairly informal in dress code. All the managers where khaki slacks and polo t-shirts. This just won’t fly at my new employer. I had two suits already hanging in my closet, which I had worn on my two interviews, but I’m going to be wearing a suit every day to work now, and I don’t get supplied with a uniform. And my selection of ties and dress shirts was also woefully inadequate. My wife and I share a philosophy that you don’t dress for the job you have, you dress for the next job you want. We put that philosophy to work on this particular trip. This was an investment in our future.

You'll like the way you look. You really will!

Thankfully the Men’s Warehouse was having one of their big sales. Went I bought my last two suits it was “Buy One get one 50% off” this time it was “Buy One get One Free”! It was quite the experience, but it’s fun clothe shopping when you’re buying nice stuff, have the money, and you have someone walking you through the whole process. My wife quite enjoys the sight of me in a suit, so despite the final price tag on the excursion, she thoroughly enjoyed herself. She’s also quite looking forward to the prospect of me wearing a suit to work every day.

In the immediate future we’ll need to move. The commute from where we live is just unmanageable for more than a month or so. Even with the strategic use of mass transit, it’ll be horrendous really. However, we were already thinking about moving as we’ve completely outgrown our old place. This new job just changes where we’re looking, and makes it a bit more pressing.

My new hotel besides being fancier, is more than 10 times bigger than my current employer, it’s part of a massive management company. The salary reflects that, my staff is growing tremendously, it’ll be very challenging and exciting. It’ll finally make it worth going off and getting a BS in Hotel Management! And put me on the right track to further advancements. And considering about 3 months every year I’ll be the graveyard manager on duty and this hotel is in a major metropolitan downtown, it should give me plenty of blogging material. So long as I remain discreet.

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Getting Back on the Wagon

OK...there was no dysentery involved

I’m going to try to not make this another lame post about how I haven’t been posting anything. I meant to write something on Tuesday, but between watching Alcatraz and The Finder, going to lunch with the wife, and the weekly loads of laundry, I just really couldn’t be bothered. Thursday was occupied with other endeavors, I’ll talk about that later.

I have this to say this about Alcatraz. J.J. Abrams is giving us another show with Jorge Garcia, an Island, a narrative tied together with flashback, time travel, AND A GODS DAMNED ISLAND! You’re killing me Smalls! We haven’t seen the big red sphere yet, but just wait it’ll be there. That all being said, I’m enjoying the show quite a bit. Sarah Jones the show’s lead is not only quite attractive.

Exhibit A

But is quite a great actress so far too. The show has called for a good amount of range from her so far and she’s pulled it all off as far as I’m concerned. I also love that they’ve taken pains to set the show in San Francisco which has a very iconic look and feel to it, and they’ve done their best to match that. I hate it when shows are set in places I’m familiar with and are quite obviously filmed nowhere near that place, usually on a sound stage for “generic city block”. I’m looking at you Charmed! THAT IS NOT SAN FRANCISCO! Not only that but I don’t think anyone involved in your set design has ever even been to San Francisco! Aside from the fact that I thought Journeyman would have been an awesome show, I loved it for all the great location work too. I know San Francisco probably isn’t a cheap city to shoot in, but if Nash Bridges could make it work, then I don’t see why others can’t.

The show also has a much heavier procedural element to tie it together than a lot of J.J.’s other shows, except maybe Fringe. Yet the mythology is thick enough that I think it can really grow some legs.

I don’t have too much to say about The Finder yet. It’s a nice twist on your typical crime procedural. I was intrigued after hearing Hart Hanson talk on  the Nerdist Writer’s Panel about it and Bones. It hasn’t evoked a visceral response from me like Alcatraz has though. It certainly has its share of sexy in the show, which helps. Come to think of it, I actually found myself watching more of The Finder than Alcatraz, but I think that’s because, kind of like Bones it’s a light little jolly rancher of entertainment and I can watch it while doing other things. Alcatraz like Lost makes me feel like I really need to be paying attention to what’s going on to catch everything. Sometimes that’s just too much work in my entertainment. Like Hart Hanson said on the panel you gotta try and sum up the show like a little old lady living in a trailer, and “I’m gonna watch that show about the guy that finds stuff.” If I’m not feeling like being intellectually challenged.

Work has been a little nuts. 2 days before I was supposed to leave for 11 days for the wedding and honeymoon, one of the property owners walks in and says “We’re breaking ground on the new pool on Thursday.” It was Monday as he was saying this. And not even early Monday, like Monday afternoon. What ensued was a mad dash for me to get the ball rolling on my staff making all the necessary calls to notify our guests that would be affected by a fairly major endeavor. This is supposed to be a 3 month project. That’s a lot of phone calls people. Not only that, but update the announcements on our website, confirmation letters, Facebook, and send out massive email blasts to our guests as well. Guess who found out that our email server can only send out 500 messages in an hour before crapping out? That’s right, the hotelnerd. Suffice it to say I was still coordinating stuff on Friday morning as I was also at the venue prepping for the wedding.

For this and a variety of reasons, I’m glad that I had already started quietly looking for new employment within the industry. I actually just had my second interviews for two different properties yesterday. I’ve got my fingers and toes firmly crossed that one of them pans out….and also that I don’t break my streak. I’ve never had a second interview for a job and not gotten at least an offer. My wife has been working double time to make sure I don’t get my hopes up too high. Guess what? They’re freaking high.

I still love most of the aspects of my job, my staff (generally), the property (gorgeous), my fellow managers, my immediate boss, and the guests I get to work with (even the crazy ones, they give me blogging material after all), but the strain of working for a complete an utter madman (the property owner not my GM) has finally gotten to me. It’s kind of scary how common jokes about hiring a hit man have become around the office. All of the managers have been suffering together. The pool project is just the easiest to explain example of the madness this man puts us through. Oh, and let’s not forget that shortly after my return he made the 6-year-old daughter of a guest cry. True Story. I’m not the first manager to be jumping ship either, so I don’t feel that bad.

So even if these two prospects don’t pan out, I’ll still be out there looking. Time to get while the getting is good. Besides a new hotel will bring all sorts of new material for all of you reading this. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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I’m still here…mostly

So my new wife and I got back from our Honeymoon last Sunday, and I’ve been meaning to get some blog posts up, but honestly haven’t had the time yet. I think some of the trip is still decompressing from my brain. No matter how hard I tried, I could entirely turn off the Hotel Worker part of my brain as we were staying at this amazing resort. It gave me a lot of perspective on guest experience, my own staff, and my own management. Aside from that it was lots and lots of fun and so relaxing. However, returning home has been a lot of work. My desk and email box at work filled with issues that needed to be addressed. I responded to over 45 guest emails today, a new best record I believe. I have hiring to do. My department is short-staffed, and we’re about to split it in two as well. Lots of balls in the air. It’s amazing how much stress and work went into preparing to leave for 11 days, and how much stress and work is involved in picking up everything that still didn’t get covered while I was gone. It almost makes a long vacation not worth it. ALMOST! And then there’s all the stuff left over at home, not the least of which was coming home to leaky ceiling now that our area is finally getting rain. And the house is so messy! We really didn’t have time to clean up before leaving. I mean seriously, have you ever planned a wedding?!? We were both wishing we had just run off to Vegas. However, all of the hard work paid off in the end and it turned out to be a perfect event that we both managed to enjoy quite a bit.

I wouldn’t have traded those 11 days away with my wife for anything. It was an amazing experience for us both. It’s the most consecutive time we’ve ever spent with one another for one thing. But it was also a lesson for us both in how to treat ourselves and how we both want to travel in the future. And yes, I think flying First Class has ruined us both for life.

Anyways, this is nowhere near a long enough blog post. I read so many comics by the pool it’s not even funny. I also finished reading a book that’s been laying half-finished by my bed for like 4 or 6 months. And then there’s all the stuff that actually happened on our trip, and all the thoughts it’s left me with about the hotel industry and traveling. I’m not ready to post all of that yet. There’s just been too much left to do. I just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here. Still intending to blog. I’m just not ready yet. But…

Yeah! That's right! I went there!

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Honeymoon

My lovely (and newly minted) wife and I are off adventuring in Cancun. But when we return I will try to get into a regular posting schedule again. I’ve got lots to post about from my last week of work before the wedding. In the mean time I wanted to leave you all with this image. Betcha wish you were here!

image

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Don’t be a Scrooge This Holiday Season

No one wants a Scrooge staying at their Hotel

I’ve talked a lot about tipping before. Specifically about tipping the hospitality professionals that service you when you’re at a hotel. That’s an important word “professionals” we don’t do it for fun. OK…not just for fun. We do it to get paid as much as because we find some enjoyment from it (those of us that aren’t twisted bitter Gollum like creatures). I’m of the firm belief that tipping is one of the smaller expenses you encounter while traveling, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Far from it, and the nicer of a place you’re staying at, the less of a cheap bastard you should be.

A fellow blogger and hotel worker, The Hook, had a recent post on this exact matter. Here is his post: The Hook’s Definitive Guide to Tipping and Service I recommend you read it if you travel even a little. Even if you’re staying at a Motel6 you should tip your housekeeper at least.

I left a comment on his post that I felt like highlighting here.

Don’t forget that tipping your Housekeeper, Concierge and the Valet is just as important as the Bellman. And the 55 cents you had at the bottom of your pocket and you dumped on the dresser and didn’t feel like picking back up before leaving doesn’t count as a tip for housekeeping, it should just count as littering you cheap douchebag. How much did your car cost? Or how much will it cost if the valet dings up your rental? Throw the guy a tip or park your own car. And you know how the Concierge knows about that really awesome restaurant they sent you to? They went and eat there, and only occasionally did they get some sort of “industry deal” to do it, and the hotel likely didn’t pick up the tab. They likely paid for it out of their own pocket, so that they could experience it, recommend it to you, and improve your vacation, throw a few bucks into the cause. If you don’t have cash hit the ATM. If you’re not willing to tip, then stay at a Motel 6 or stay home.
And I can’t agree more that you need to actually express to the Front Desk what your expectations and needs are. And it’s so much easier to accommodate those requests if you ask while you’re at the desk, before you get into the room. We’re not mind readers. But we are very good listeners.

It’s nothing I haven’t said before. But I think it bared repeating.

Lastly, I wanted to share these two pictures I snapped from my phone while checking rooms a couple of weeks ago. These rooms were right next door to one another, are identical in size and layout, and yet one was noticeably messier than the other, there was also one other noticeable difference.

You're a bad person if you do this.

All the piles put together added to a little under $4, which for the size of the room is descent. If everyone left $4 I wouldn’t have anything to complain about. This was just insulting because they don’t know that I’m going to come along, find this crap, scoop it up, and turn it into dollar bills for my housekeepers. I can’t even tell if they were trying to send a literal message or not. It doesn’t seem to spell anything to me. Seems more like coins stacked into a giant middle finger, or at least that was the message I received. It’s not like they were too lazy to go out, get dollar bills, and leave a real tip, this probably too more energy than that. And this wasn’t just the bottom change in their pocket that they dumped out the night before and decided they didn’t want to bother picking up. This was someone’s idea of a joke. One of my female staff said “That would be like a guy offering to buy me a drink at a bar and ordering a water!”

You're a rock star

This is far and above what they needed to leave. This person probably has worked in some sort of service industry in the past. Either that or has money and doesn’t mind sharing it around. Either way they’re awesome in my book. That’s a tip that says “I know there are some cheap bastards out there. I’m going to make up for it.”

Now does anyone want to guess which room was a bigger mess? The stacks of change or the $20 bill?

I won’t even dignify that with an answer. I think we all know what the truth is.

Good day to you.

I SAID GOOD DAY!

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And now for something completely different…

I’m actually not a huge Monty Python fan, which is weird considering what a huge nerd I am and how much I love British stuff, but that line just seemed to fit in the title.

I wanted to talk about something that I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about on this blog. Mostly because I tend to talk about the stuff around me in my nerd life (TV shows, books, comics, movies, games, technology etc) and the people around me in my professional life (crazy guests).

In a little less than a month, I will be marrying the most wonderful and amazing woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I really couldn’t be happier or more excited at the prospect. We’ve been together 2 1/3 years now and look forward to many many more to come. Although, I have to say that work has been so exhausting for us both lately, and planning the wedding so stressful, that really we’re just counting down the days to the honeymoon! A week in Cancun is just what the doctor ordered.

No! Not that Doctor...but good guess

It’s really kind of hard to believe that only 2ish years have gone by since we met at a mutual friend’s baby shower (weird I know). Where she managed to not die of laughter when one of my friends insisted that I show her the Super Mario tattoo on my right shoulder and the Star Trek TOS command badge I have tattooed on my chest (T.A.R.D.I.S. tattoo on my left shoulder still pending).

After some Facebook stalking that seems to be the norm for meeting someone new these days, we had our first date. And then a 2nd date. And a 3rd. It really just spun away after that. We managed to pass – more or less pass – each and every little test that we put before one another.

We both finally understand all that stuff that people used to say about finding your partner. You know that stuff that when you’re bitterly single makes you roll your eyes in annoyance when spouted by your happily coupled friends. And yes, now we’re one of those disgustingly cute couples. We often call ourselves on it when we do something that makes us go, “Awwww.” Then we pause and one of us says, “We’re one of those couples that would have made us puke watching when we were single.” But it’s true, and yet that’s not what makes us great partners. It’s that we make each other stronger than either of us could be individually. Recently we were faced with the prospect of moving to Seattle for a new job for one of us. That job fell through, and we got more excited then maybe we should have, but at the same time it brought me to a minor epiphany one night when driving home. That the prospect of moving to Seattle for a new job would be daunting, even terrifying to the point of being paralyzed, if I was facing it by myself. It’s something I’d have a hard time even contemplating if I was single. Yet, there was really no fear at the prospect of doing it with her by my side. Because I knew that we’d be there to back each other up the whole time. It was just a small realization in the grand scheme of things, but it shifted my entire way of looking at challenges. We’ve already been living together for over a year. In most major decisions we think of them in terms of “us” and not in terms of ourselves individually.

This would be so awesome....

I really and truly love this woman who I’m going to be vowing to spend the rest of my life with. Even though she doesn’t like the Lord of the Rings movies. It certainly helps that she enjoys Doctor Who though! We don’t share every interest. In fact often times finding something to watch on TV together can be a bit of a struggle. We’ve found shows we can both agree on and when we don’t that’s what tablet computers are for – my Xoom and her iPad. In that respect we’re a house divided. I’m a PC/Droid and she’s a Mac. Yet we make it work! At the same time we push each other to grow and experience new things. I never would have come to know the glory that is butter chicken and naan if I hadn’t let her talk me into trying Indian food one day for lunch. And she probably wouldn’t have discovered how fun playing video games together can be if we’d never gone to PAX together. We don’t share every interest, but that’s OK, we know how to give each other space to enjoy our own interests and occasionally we push one another into trying something new that we end up enjoying more together. We challenge each other mentally and morally by talking about stuff that you can’t talk about in polite company, and we’re allowed to disagree with one another. We come down on two very different sides of the argument when it comes to corporal punishment/the death penalty. We manage to agree on most of the important things, except that if we have twins (which run in her family) I think we should name them Luke and Leia. Still trying to sell her on that one…

I know she tends to skim my blog, glazing over the nerdier things that don’t interest her as much. Come to the Dark Side of the Nerd my love. We have cookies. Don’t get me wrong, she has some nerdy qualities, she just doesn’t choose to fly her “nerd flag” high because she doesn’t feel she went through as many trials and tribulations growing up for being a nerd. But considering she played a drinking game in college – repeatedly – based around Presidential trivia I have few doubts about her nerd credentials. We’re just nerdy about different things at all. She’s a sexy librarian by day and a deadly ninja by night. I’m a mild-mannered hotel manager by day and intergalactic super-hero by night.  That’s like peanut butter and jelly baby!

I've always wanted flight to be my super power...

That pretty much wraps it up. In case the next couple of weeks run away from me, Happy Holidays everybody!

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TV Show Review – Primeval Season 4

Dinosaurs better watch out!

A BBC show about time travel, dinosaurs, future monsters, and fancy technology? Oh and let’s not forget hot British actresses. You had me at dinosaurs really. Primeval is one of those Sci-Fi shows that always seems to fly under the radar, I watched and highly enjoyed the first 3 seasons, which is remarkable considering almost every season they’ve gone through a major casting upheaval and time travel usually gives me a headache. But then I finished season 3 and is so often the case with BBC shows that aren’t Doctor Who I kind of forgot about it for a while. The episode runs on BBC shows are so short and the gap in between seasons or “series” as they call them is so long, I don’t know how anything actually keeps an audience over there.

In England: Dinosaurs + Hot Former Pop Star = More Sci-Fi for us all!

Anyways, I realized that there was series 4 and 5 of Primeval on my Comcastic onDemand service yesterday and managed to plow through 4 episodes before the fiancée got home. Now over all this isn’t the best Sci-Fi show ever conceived of and put on the air, but it always managed to worm its way into my heart, not least of all because I’m very aware that this show probably wouldn’t have made it half way through its first season if it had been on in the states.

So far the first 4 episodes of series 4 have proven to be just as enjoyable as seasons 1 – 3. Monster of the week type missions with little hints to this season’s major plot line which will likely all come together in the finale. The team has undergone another minor cast upheaval including adding Star Trek DS9 alum Alexander Siddig to the cast. Usually we hardly ever see former Star Trek cast members after their series ends, so that was a nice little surprise for my nerd brain.

Hannah Spearritt - Gotta love British Pop stars turned actress in Sci-Fi shows

Hannah Spearritt as Abby managed to survive into the 4th season and return from being stranded in the past along with Andrew Lee Potts as Connor. And YAY! The nerd gets the hot girl! Always gotta appreciate that. There’s nothing like getting stranded in a per-historic horror land to bring two hearts together.

When last we left Connor and Abby at the end of season 3, they had traveled into the past to save the first humans from being killed, thus saving the human race in the future. But then they were trapped there, and stayed trapped for an entire year. It doesn’t really matter how they got back, because the only reason they were left in the past was so that the show could go through a new visual and casting overhaul for season 4. I’m sure they’ll find some way to tie it into the over all mythology of the season, but it hasn’t yet 4 episodes in. All we know is their new team leader, Matt Anderson, is secretly meeting with some old man out in the country and talking about how Abby, Connor, or Captain Becker could be the cause of something. Presumably this is the future disaster that destroys mankind, creates the super predators and causes the anomalies in time to start appearing in the first place. I’m only 4 episodes in, but that seems to be the most logical course of that little plot line. Of course they have access to some form of Future Knowledge, but it’s non-specific enough that they’re left guessing as to who their suspect really is. Great. Have I mentioned that I hate time travel? It always gives me a headache. Let’s just hunt so monsters thrown through time for Queen and Country damn it!

Hot geek girls with a british accent? Yes please!

Also Ruth Kearney as Jess Parker, the team’s new resident button pusher/techno geek girl is just absolutely lovely. She’s simply adorable! My only wish is that there were more pictures of her on the internet. The show has really been showing off her remarkable legs lately, but she doesn’t have much of a web presence. Let’s see if she can actually survive the season though, as really only 3 cast members have stuck around since season 1. This is a show that killed off its main heroic male lead and still survived to tell the tale! That doesn’t happen anywhere but on the BBC in my experience.

Well I’m on the 2nd day of my weekend and aside from some small errands (like going to pick out my wedding ring finally) I’ll probably be spending it watching Primeval and getting my laundry done for the week.

Season 4 holds up compared to the 3 preceding seasons if you were a fan of the show, I say keep watching. If you haven’t watched before but what I’ve described sounds up your alley, then start at the beginning and catch up with us. I don’t recommend using this as a jumping on point, because despite the “monster of the week” episodic nature of most of the episodes, there is an overall serialized story line happening as well that might not make too much sense if you jump in here. I think at least the 1st season is on Netflix streaming, but if not get the DVDs or…use “other methods” that I’ll let you figure out for yourself.

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Crazy Hotel Guest Story – Young Money

These aren't the stairs in this story. There's more cactus, steep falls, and dangerous scalding water.

There are unique benefits and disadvantages to working at an independently run hotel like I do now. I tend to think this story represents both sides of that coin.

One of the nicer units we have available at the hotel is a 2-bedroom full-sized house on the hillside overlooking the property. It’s a gorgeous unit with an even better view that overlooks the property, the pool and the rest of the town. It has a full-blown kitchen, fireplace, and is our most recently and fully remodeled unit. It used to be the owner’s house on property. The one downside of this spectacular unit is that you have to drive down from the hill to access the rest of the property. There is a path that leads down the hillside, but it’s rather precarious and isn’t exactly safe if you’re not familiar with it. That applies extra in the dark, especially if there’s booze involved. We told guest’s as they’re reserving that there’s no direct path from the unit and that you have to drive up and down the hill. When they check-in we told them about the path, but ask them to please not use it. I had been asking the GM and owners to build a locked gate across the head of the path since I got there. That has finally happened, but not before this little incident happened.

I was sitting at my desk answering emails when my phone rings with a call from one of the reservations extensions.

“The guests in the <hilltop> are on the phone. They want to talk to a manager about the path,” said my agent.

“What about it?” I said playing dumb.

Long pause. She’s not sure if I’m kidding or not. “Ummm…the pool told her she can’t use it. She’s been yelling at me for like fifteen minutes on the phone.”

“Yup.” Audible sigh. “Put her through to my desk.”

I have no doubt that she’s been screeching and saying all sorts of mean things to my agent on the phone, but when I answer her voice is all soft and sweet. I let her tell me about how much she enjoyed her massage and they love the room, but that she thinks it’s ridiculous that they can’t use the path down the hill.

I go through my usual lines about all the reasons that the path isn’t safe.

She says she should have been told when she booked the room.

I tell her that’s our standard practice when a guest books over the phone. Then I point out that she booked her room online and that the information about the path restriction is actually in the room description on our website and on her confirmation letter. That should really be check-mate right?

Well she didn’t read her confirmation letter. I apologize and tell her that I’m really sorry, but that I just can’t allow them to use the path.

“Well then I think we might just have to check-out because this is just stressing me out too much.”

Really? You can’t just let it go? Sometimes in life we’re just not allowed to do things. Does it really need to stress you out? Can’t you just let it go and enjoy all the other awesome things going on? Packing up your stuff and moving isn’t going to cause more stress? OK.

“I’m really sorry if that’s the case. Of course if you don’t think you can stay in the room as it is I’ll release you from the rest of your reservation and you can check-out early without penalty.” They had actually checked-in the day before and already spent a night in the room. This is a $500+ unit and I won’t be able to resell them at that rate, but it’s better than having them harp on me the rest of their stay. It’s a compromise where really no one wins.

“And you’ll refund last night too?” She asked.

I wanted to laugh. “I can’t do that. You already stayed last night. The best I can do is release you from the rest of the reservation even though we’re inside the cancellation policy.”

“I don’t think that’s fair.”

I knew I could be opening the door to disaster for myself, but I went ahead and asked “Was there something wrong with the room last night?”

“Well no.” Surprisingly she answered honestly.

“But…” of course “…this entire experience has just ruined my vacation.”

“I’m sorry, but the best I can do is release you from the rest of your reservation without charging you for the remaining nights.”

“Well if we stay will you give us a discount?”

Eye roll on my side of the phone. “I’m not willing to do that. If you decide to stay it would be at the original rate you reserved.”

OK, I probably could have bent a little bit here. Even if I took $100 off each night it’s still more than I would have been able to resell the unit for, and we wouldn’t have had to clean it an extra time. There were legitimate business reasons to do it. I was sticking to principles, probably a mistake, but I also had visions of giving her the discount and then them continuing to fight us on using the path.

“AHHH!” She screamed into the phone. “Fine let me talk to my husband. We’ll get back to you.”

She hung up before I could respond.

Five minutes later my phone is ringing again. This time it’s the Front Desk. “The gentleman from the <hilltop> is here. He wants to talk to you.”

Of course he is. I head up to the Front Desk, put on my best customer service smile and step up to meet the guy. He’s all worked up and goes off about how this experience has ruined their trip and that I need to do something to fix it. This guy is short and greasy looking to be honest. He and his friend both have a trailer park, red neck, white trash look to them. Their massive truck parked out front is new but also lifted with huge off-road tires.

Pretty much one of these.

The guy is loud as he talked to me, and overly casual, calling me “buddy” and “pal”. He also explains to me how they stay with us often (I’d seen their file, they don’t) and that he’s rolling in cash. And mentions several times about how he’s always getting horrible service from people because he’s young and has “new money” and tries to get me to say I have the same problem. I’m pretty sure you get horrible service because you’re a loud obnoxious jerk. This isn’t about money for him he keeps saying. Really? Cause it kind of seems like it’s a little bit about money.

I reiterate the things I’m willing to do for him that I had already told his wife.

“Well then I want to talk to your boss.”

Of course he does.

“Well he’s not here today, but let me see if I can reach him.”

“You do that.”

Great. I step into the back office and then out the back door and whip out my cell phone and call the big guns. I explain everything and he agrees with me 100%. However, he’s willing to give them $50 off their remaining night just so we don’t have to resell the room. That’s the smarter call, and the easier one to make since he hasn’t had to be arguing with the guest.

I step back up and present my offer.

“That just won’t do it. I want a full comp for tonight and a free massage for my wife.” He isn’t quite shouting, but his voice is very loud.

“I just don’t see that happening.”

“Well why don’t you see if your boss sees it happening.”

Great again. I excuse myself and go make the call. The resounding answer is “No way” as I knew it would be. My GM hates to negotiate in these situations, it just rubs him the wrong way.

When I step back up to the desk there’s another guest in the lobby now so I usher the man outside. I tell him that our original offer stands, and that if that doesn’t work for him then they’ll just need to check-out as we originally discussed.

This is when things turn really south.He goes back into the woes of being young with money and getting shit service, as he sits on the tail gate of his lifted F350. Not kidding. He tells me how his wife was upset with him last night and so he didn’t get laid, and that if I don’t give him something to make her happy now, he won’t get laid tonight. This is an entirely inappropriate conversation. Especially at the volume he continually speaks.

He keeps trying to get something out of me. His lowest “offer” being that he wants a free massage for his wife so that she can relax. I stick to my guns and he and his buddy head back up to theto decide whether they would stay or go. When I get to the back deck I find one the members of the owning family waiting for me. At that time he was also the maintenance manager, and he had overheard the guy talking to me out front about his trouble getting laid, and he wanted the rest of the story.

As I’m filling him in, the Front Desk Agent pops her head out to tell me about what happened when I stepped away the first time to call the GM. When I was out back on the phone she answered a call for a reservation and was trying to sell the <hilltop>. He was standing at the desk and heard her mention the unit’s name and started shouting to be heard over the phone, “Don’t do it! It’s not worth it.” repeatedly. She obviously didn’t sell the room.

That was the clincher for the owner. “That’s it. They’re not staying here. I’m kicking them out.”

“Really?” I say a wide smile spreading over my face.

“Yeah. Let’s drive up there.”

We’re just about to get into a work truck when the douche nozzle drives back into the lot in his massive truck. I point him out to the owner, let’s call him Delta for this, and Delta walks up to the guy as he rolls down his window.

“Hi. We were just coming to tell you that we’ll take the $50 discount and stay.” The guy said.

“Hi. I’m Delta one of the owners. We’d actually like you to check-out. We don’t need your business here. Please don’t return.”

“What? Really? Why?” The red neck sputters.

“I don’t appreciate your language in front of our other guests or trying to drive reservations away from us as we’re trying to resolve and issue for you. You have 30 minutes to check out.” Delta explains.

“Fine.” The guy said in what seemed like indignant astonishment.

“Thanks. We’ll bring you the bill for last night.” We turned to walk away.

The douche bag revs his truck and as he pulled out behind us he shouted, “I can’t believe they let fags work here!”

Delta looks at me and says, “If they’re still there in 30 minutes call the cops and have them evicted.”

Now technically I don’t know if we could have gotten away with that, but I didn’t mention that. I could tell Delta was really pissed now. And in that moment, Delta was my hero.

So I drove the bill up. The wife actually said as I handed her the bill, “Why does this always happen to us?”

Because you’re an idiot, and your husband is a huge ass hole. Probably mostly because of your husband though and all his “new money”. Too bad you can’t buy class.

Epilogue

Five months later I get a call from Reservations. It’s the douche bag and his wife once more trying to book a day at the spa. Their file indicates that they’ve been black listed by the owners. So I get to have the awkward conversation with them that they’re not welcome back on the property by the owners.

“So we can’t ever come back?” the wife asked.

“Not after your last visit. I’m sorry. Not as things are now. No.” I replied. I thought it best to make things as blunt as possible. Although I wasn’t really sorry. That’s just a reflex.

“Is there anything we can do?” her husband shouts over the speaker.

“Write the owners and see if they’ll change their minds. I can’t over ride the owners.”

I never found out if they wrote in or not, but last I checked they’re still black listed. Good for them.

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Crazy Hotel Guest Story – The Naked Superman

I’m exposed to far too much nudity in my line of work, and it’s never been enjoyable. In fact it’s been entirely male nudity as far as I recall. This is especially true at my current property where I’m as much involved in Spa Operations as Hotel Operations. Usually it’s because someone has passed out from one of our heat intensive bath treatments. Extreme heat and booze just don’t mix people.

This particular incident happened this last summer or spring. I know the weather was particularly nice, but hell it’s California, so that doesn’t really narrow it down.

I was just sitting down for lunch at my desk, deli sandwich and emails yum! When my cell phone started ringing. Being a manager I never really “clock out” ever. I’ve also been a line employee and had manager that were horrible about answering their phones whether they were on a break or not, so I take pride in the fact that generally my staff can count on reaching me by phone. I checked the caller ID and saw that it was a fellow manager, our Spa Supervisor who I will call Jelly Bean for a reason that only really makes sense to me and her. She would be quite annoyed if she knew that was her pseudonym actually. Perfect.

I answer the call. “Hi Jelly Bean,” I say with a forced smile in my voice.

“<Hotelnerd> there is a naked man lounging by the pond,” she whispers into her phone. For the record we are no a clothing optional facility.

“Ooookay…” Chuckle. Jelly Bean was still a relatively newly minted manager, in fact this might have been 2 summers ago now that I think of it. “Would you like me to come talk to him?”

“No….I can do it….” there’s strong reluctance and uncomfortableness in her voice though.

I take pity on her. I start standing from my chair. “I’ll be right there.”

It’s about a 30 second walk from my desk to her location. I get out there to find a gentleman sprawled out on a chaise lounge chair, his robe draped across the chair next to him basking in the radiance of the sun. Four chairs down from him sits a lone woman reading a book with a hand up to the side of her face to shield her peripheral vision from the site. Jelly Bean is on the other end of the pond so I give her a little wave as I approach the gentleman. As I approach, I can’t help but get the Full Monty as it were. I really didn’t need to know that this guy believed in waxing….everywhere.

I come up beside him and bend down to speak softly but firmly to him. “Sir. I don’t mean to disturb you, but we’re not a clothing optional facility. I’m going to have to ask you to put your robe back on. Please.”

He opened his eyes and looked at me, “Really?”

“Yeah, I’m afraid so.”

“Fine.” He sighed and rolled his eyes at me.

“Thank you. I appreciate it. Sorry to bother you.” I said and turned to walk away as he got up to put his robe back on.

Jelly Bean circled around her end of the pond and we met out of sight. “Thank you. I really didn’t want to get that close to him.”

I shrugged at her, “Not a problem.”

I walked back to my desk and had just taken a bite of my sandwich when my phone started ringing again. I glared at it accusingly where it sat on my desk. Jelly Bean showed up on my caller ID again. Great.

“Hotelnerd, he has the robe on now, but he has his legs spread straddling the chair and every time the wind blows a little the robe moves and exposes him again.”

Sigh. “I’ll be right there.” I was already out the door.

I repeat the trip over. Approach the gentleman again, but he’s readjusted himself before I could get there so that his legs are stretched out straight now, not spread and his robe is completely folded over him. I just keep walking past him, circle the pond and meet up with Jelly Bean.

“Did you go talk to him?” I ask.

“No he repositioned right after you hung up.”

“Alright well I’ll hang out for a minute to see if he acts up again.” I tell her and we step around the pond so that that it’s less obvious that we’re watching him. He must have felt our eyes on him, because he sat up, swung his legs to the ground and stood.

His robe sash WAS NOT tied shut. A gust of wind blew and his robe flew open, flashing the lady still 4 chairs down trying to read her book. I see her hand fly up again to shield her view. He could have quite easily gotten up the other direction, or tied his robe shut, or done any number of other things, but that obviously wasn’t his goal. He starts walking off down the boardwalk towards the rest of the spa, robe sash still untied and robe billowing out behind him like a cape.

“What’s he doing?” Jelly Bean says in outrage.

I’m wincing as I say, “I think he just gave us the Full Superman.”

I took off at a brisk walk after him. I have long legs and the distance disappeared fast. Yep, still not a single hair on this guy except on his head. Joy.

“Sir.” I’ve lost most of my pleasant courtesy at this point. “I need to ask you to tie you robe closed. You’re exposing yourself.”

“Fine. Fine.” He waves his hand at be before snatching up the ends of his robe sash and tying it closed.

“Thank you.” I say as he walks away.

You’d think his nakedness would end there. It didn’t.

I come up to the Spa Front Desk later and hear my staff there talking about a naked man.

“Oh you mean the one out at the pond that Jelly Bean and I dealt with?” I ask.

“He was naked in the lobby!” They tell me.

Apparently after interacting with me for the final time, he made his way all the way back to the locker room, disrobed, then came out into the lobby to ask the Front Desk where the bathroom was. You know….the one he walked right past to reach the locker room. Shocked they quickly directed him to the right door. After using the restroom, he returned to the locker room and put all of his clothes back on. I later found out that he came out into the lobby and was complaining to his friends about how he was trying to relax at the pond but we wouldn’t let him.

Really? Really!?! REALLY!??? I was more than happy to let you relax at the pond. You just had to keep your junk out of sight!

But from now until the end of time Jelly Bean and I will refer to a naked man at the pond as a “Code Superman”

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