Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm backkkkk!

Hi again! So after a few months of quiet I have decided to start this blog back up. I may not be lost in the literal woods any longer, but I suppose you could say I'm still lost to some degree AND I am still working with tourists. Actually, there's a lot about my new job and old job that coincide so well that I wish they would give me my Park Ranger salary back.

Currently, I am working two jobs: Talbots (boutique clothing store) and Holiday Inn Express. For the purposes of entertainment I'll mainly be writing about the Inn on here because, surprising as it seems, dressing wealthy aged women is just not all that zany. I work the evening shift at the hotel, which I believe is the best shift in order to get to know the guests. They check in anytime after 3pm and then drop by the desk for questions, suggestions, and concerns up until the wee hours of the morning.

Here is a brief synopsis of my time here thus far:

Lesson 1: Phones. Our phone system at the Inn has to be the most impractical technological invention I have ever seen. I really cannot even begin to explain how this phone works, but one thing to note is that it has about three lines, but no way to switch between any of them. If I am on the phone with a guest I will here a brief chirp come from the consul. I can put Person #1 on hold and hit the 'Answer' button to get the call, but if Person #2 has a complicated inquiry then I have no way of putting them on hold to get back to Person #1. Also, if Person #1 talks too long (which, as a side note, why do people who call hotels talk about 2-words a minute?) then Person #2's call will be transferred to the back office phone. I have now lost the chance to answer #2's call on the desk phone so as soon as #1 hangs up I have to dash to the office and hope that I reach the phone before the call is sent back up to the front desk. This process has caused me to run in between two ringing phones on more than one hilarious occasion.

Also, to transfer people I simply type in the room number they want and hang-up on them. Sometimes the phone registers the number swiftly enough that everything works as it should. Other times I end up hanging up on the guest because the phone decided to take its sweet time. "Isn't there a way for you to tell?" you ask. Yes, there is: the person calls back and says, "You hung-up on me." That is the only way.

Lesson 2: Directions. Nearly every day a guest calls the hotel to say that their GPS can't find the Inn's address. We then give them the address of the fitness centre across the street and everything seems to work out fine. And then last week happened. Last week was the PGA Tour's brief stay on St. Simons Island. The Inn was PACKED with TV producers, golfers, caddies, groupies, Kodak people, and health insurance guys. The first day of the tournament I get the expected "GPS call" and give the man the standard fitness address. Five hours later (it is about 9pm at night), while I am in the middle of running in between two ringing phones, I get this call: "You gave me the wrong address! I have been driving for eons and eons on this damn island and the address you gave me DOES NOT exist." First off, I want to tell the man to not over exaggerate and that the island is only 14 X 6 miles so I doubt he has been driving for "eons and eons." Second, I want to make sure that he understood that the address I gave him was for a place across the street. However, I do not get the chance to voice either of these thoughts before he starts shouting, "Marsh Landing! I am at Marsh Landing! Where the hell is that?" The only one I know of is at the north end of the island, but there's no way he could be there because the road his GPS was trying to find is all the way at the south end. I ask him what road he's on, for some type of landmark, etc etc, and finally I hear 'Fort Frederica'. Yep, he made it all the way to the north end. I tell him that he needs to turn around and head the opposite way. As I begin to say, "And then you'll go through two roundabouts," I suddenly hear a click. I look at the phone for a second and, forgetting my Customer Etiquette manners, go, "Oh HELL no!" It's then that I notice the guest in the lobby; a small mousy woman who looks at me. "He hung-UP on me!" I exclaim and she just shakes her head sadly.

GPS Man is about as ornery as can be expected and I try to rush him out of the lobby and towards his room as quickly as possible (although not before he has the chance to tell me how clueless I am not to know the street the hotel is on -- I know what our street address is. The GPS coordinates do not.). Finally he leaves and ten minutes later I get a call. It's GPS Man and his desk lamp won't work. After about fifteen minutes of me rushing in between his room and the closet with the circuit breaker I tell him that I believe it is the lamp itself and that there is nothing I can do (if he had been nicer maybe I would have tried, but I was ready to cut all the power to his room by this point). Just as he decides to try plugging the lamp into an outlet across the room there is a knock on the door. GPS Man does nothing. There is another knock. GPS looks at me as if to say, "Well aren't you going to answer that?" Now I am normally a very calm person and it really takes a lot for me to lose my cool, especially when it comes to Customer Service type things. I am pretty sure my feeling of rage was very evident on my face because when I opened up the door the guy waiting outside actually started a little. Apparently, GPS Man had come with three other business men who were staying at the hotel; three business men who had really taken a liking to me. The new guy looked at me sheepishly as he greeted GPS Man and helped him move the lamp. After plugging it in and seeing that it STILL did not work GPS Man determined that it must be the lamp itself...shocker.

The best part of that rant? The next morning I overheard GPS Man say he was from Michigan so I made sure to mention Kalamazoo College to him. How surprising that he suddenly treated me like I had a brain in my head after that!

Lesson 3 (last one for now, I promise!): Chatty-Cathy. When I check into a hotel it is normally just to sleep, shower, and store my stuff. However, I am finding that many of our guests do not share this same sentiment. I can not tell you how many long conversations I have had with guests about everything from the Chilean miners to the island's economy and even fashion. Some people even come up to the desk specifically just to chat with me. And it's really entertaining when we get groups of young business men here because they will be very professional and straightforward and ask me where to find a good bar and then a few hours later they come into the lobby, tipsy and giggly, and suddenly wanting to just hang at the counter. This led to mass confusion my first night working here (in which I am the only employee in the building so there was no one here to help "walk me through" anymore). Three guys who had just gotten back from the bar came up to the desk needing to extend their stay. Not only did this take some maneuvering in the computer system, but they also all wanted to pay in cash, which I had never done before (and we don't have a conventional register). While trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do (while acting like I knew exactly what to do) the guys decided to grill me about my history, the origin of my name (everyone loves the whole 'Georgia from Georgia' thing), and then needed me to cast my vote on an issue of 'if someone puts a coffee cup at the foot of a chair and someone else knocks it over - whose fault is it?'

Phew! I think that's enough for now. Sorry this post is so long! Since the rest will be more present happenings rather than 'catch-up' they should be a bit shorter.

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