Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Tale of the Cookie Nabbers

At Fort Frederica there were these certain days we would look forward to once every six months -- FLETC training days. FLETC (typically pronounced "f-let-see," or "flea-tech" if you're a nerd) stands for Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre. This training centre, located in Brunswick, is one out of only two in the United States (I think the other one is in Texas). FLETC is important for the normal government reasons of training Secret Service Agents, Homeland Security, NCIS, and various other federal law enforcement positions, but what they are really known for around here (at least among the women and gay men in the area) are FLETC boys. These are the boys that would make all women at Fort Frederica, no matter age or marital status, suddenly appear from behind their desks, attentive as ever as the muscular, buzzed cut men escorted "dignitaries" around the park site.

Surprisingly, the Inn has days equivalent to these anxiously awaited for FLETC training days: DNR Law Enforcement Week. Yes -- WEEK. Same boys, same situation, similar job (them and me) -- much more drawn out and personalized. Not only do I get to see these boys on a regular basis for five to six days, but, working the late shift, I get to see them at their best: drunk.

My first night with the DNR lot consisted of recommending fine dining, good bars, distributing taxi cab business cards, and half of the group of forty learning my name. I'm not quite sure what it is about guys learning your name and then feeling like they HAVE to use it (although I have an idea), but for the next five hours I was met with a steady stream of, "Hi, GEORGIA!," "How are you, GEORGIA?," and, my favourite, "GEORGIA likes me best." By the time the group left for dinner I had socialized with the majority of them and even begun to distinguish a few: Red Neck Guy, Gun Toter, Old Guy, Baldy, Mustache Man, Southern Gentleman and The Cute One (they were all cute, but he looked like the youngest, too).

Two and a half hours later the DNR Boys returned fed, chatty, and ohhhh so tipsy. Cute One asked if they could use the conference room later to watch the football game (Auburn vs Oregon I believe?). Red Neck Guy followed close behind with a request for more cookies.

** Now, before I continue let me explain one little things: at the Inn, if we have enough "in house" guests and/or check-ins then we make chocolate chip cookies and place them in a container on the front desk. Given the number of people we will make anywhere from six to thirty-six cookies (we have the equivalent of a super Easy Bake oven in the back office). When I first started working here I was told, "Once the cookies are gone for the night -- they are gone. We typically don't bake extras for people because we'll run out of supplies faster." Got it? Okie, now back to the narrative.**

We had started the day with twelve cookies. Before I could respond that there weren't anymore Red Neck said, "The lady last night made s'more for us. Don't let her show you up." Well now I had to make them. I'm a competitive person (and possibly a sucker) and there was no way I was going to be the "mean" desk attendant. So I made eighteen more cookies.

11 p.m. found me standing in between the front desk and back office, waiting for the night auditor to arrive and relieve me for the night. I had the office door open to circulate the air (see previous post about how the heater is always on because it's "winter") and as I continually looked from my watch to the front door (this particular auditor is never on time) my impatient silence was intermittently interrupted by the hoots and hollers from the conference room. Biased towards the DNR Boys' southern accents I assumed it meant Auburn was winning. Suddenly, a sweet Kentucky accent appear behind me. "Ma'am?" I jumped causing Southern Gentleman to start a little, too. "Ma'am," he repeated, averting his gaze to the copy machine between us. "The boys were wonderin' -- the boys and I were wonderin' if you would mind makin' some more of those cookies for us? Seeing as it's the game and all." He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. "You don't have to if it's too much of an inconvenience. They just wanted me to ask ya."...If you can say 'no' to that then you obviously don't have a soul. Next thing I knew I was placing eighteen more frozen dough balls on a cookie sheet. As I popped them into the oven the night auditor finally arrived. I grabbed my bag and bolted. "You're baking cookies for the DNR Boys in the conference room," I called on my way out the door.

When I arrived the next day there were twelve freshly baked cookies sitting in their plastic Otis Spunkmeyer house on top of the front desk. This would not do. As soon as the office manager left I stockpiled my ammunition: twenty-four more cookies. Hoping this would do I decided not to check the cookies again until after dinnertime. As I'm sure you can all predict, however, this did not go according to plan. Just before half-past six I rounded the corner to discover there were only eight cookies left. Eight! I had never even seen anyone take one let alone twenty-eight. I knew eight cookies would not sustain the after dinner-rush and I would once again be beset with sweet southern accents and boyish grins and find myself, once again, baking an obscene amount of cookies for such a late hour. This was hazardous on two levels: #1. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not domestic in the slightest. Rarely do I bake/cook for someone, especially someone of the opposite sex who is literally trying to charm snacks out of me. #2. Remember when I said that I was told not to bake extra cookies for people because supplies would run low? Our cookie reservoir was quickly depleting.

As I tried to figure out a battle plan I heard the cookie case open and close. I waited until the footsteps were gone before peering around the wall separating the front desk and office. Only four cookies remained. What?! There were eight mere moments ago and only one step of footsteps! This was getting serious. The DNR Boys hadn't even left for dinner yet and already I was in a cookie-bind. I checked our supply of frozen dough. We were definitely getting down. As I toyed with the idea of a two-cookie-minimum being established I heard Red Neck and Gun Toter enter. The Otis Spunkmeyer lid was raised and dropped. I looked around the corner. The cookies were gone.

This was serious, folks. No cookies and it wasn't even 8 o'clock! What if there was another game? What if there was another bashful Kentucky native outside my office door? What if I was accused of falling short of the bar the previous cookie-baking bar the previous desk clerk had set? Before any of these questions could be answered I heard the padding of multiple pairs of combat boots walking down the hallway. I put up the "Back in a Few" sign and darted around the corner. As I waited for the DNR Boys to leave the lobby I swear I heard the word "cookies" uttered once or twice. Crap.

In the end, I baked those boys over seventy cookies in my three nights with them. Had one of the more boisterous and cocky ones like Red Neck first approached me for cookies maybe I wouldn't have been so keen to suddenly turn into Susie Homemaker. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for the shy, quiet types. And damn those charming little accents!

Monday, January 17, 2011


So I finally have something of interest to write about after about...a month? Oppsy! I actually have a funnier story on top of this, but this JUST happened so it's much more fresh and slightly dramatic? Okie, here goes...

Around 5:30 tonight I heard really loud clicking that sounded like a rolly-suitcase. I got up and looked, but there was no one there. After some searching I finally located the source, which was the AC unit in the closet in the back office ("office" is a loose term; basically it's the room behind the wall of the Front Desk where I sit and wait until I hear someone in the lobby and then I spring around the corner). I thought nothing of it and went back to whatever I was doing. The loud clicked persisted for about a half hour and then finally stopped. Every now and then I would continue to hear a slight tapping noise, but chalked it up to the AC unit being crazy. Then I began to hear dripping. Once again, logical person that I am, I assumed it was the giant freezer that is also in the back office and assumed it ideal to leave it on its own. Around 8pm, however, I decided to see just /what/ in the freezer was dripping.

And I'm guessing you can all guess what's coming next! The freezer WASN'T dripping! I followed the sound back to the closet and found that a pipe was leaking profusely. We store all of our cardboard boxes in there and as soon as I hit the light switch I saw that everything was soaked. I called the head of maintenance, Tom*, and asked what I should do. He reminded me that he had adjusted the AC temp for me earlier (the people here believe that 70 degrees is freezing so they immediately turn the heat on inside and then I'm roasting every time I come to work). I checked it and it was still off (not aloud to turn the AC on when it's "cold" outside so I just have everything switched off while I'm here). Tom said that if the AC unit is off then there shouldn't be any leaking. This is when I turned around and noticed that there was water running down the corner of the wall (basically the outside of the closet).

"Is there anyone in 205?" Tom asked.
"Yeah. Checked him in a while ago," I responded, already not liking where this was going.
"For some reason - and it's only that room - if they leave their shower running or the toilet is over-flowing then the water comes through the ceiling in the office."

I hung-up with Tom and called room 205. No answer. I called again. Still nothing. I always bounce up when I hear someone in the lobby and I could not recall Mr.Smith* ever leaving the building after his run about five hours ago. I called Tom and he said I needed to go up to the room and check to see if the water was running.

Not gonna lie, I was kind of paranoid so I called one of my friends from K and had her "in my pocket" while I went upstairs and knocked on the door. I could see that the light was on and could definitely hear something although I wasn't sure what. I knocked three times. Nothing. Finally I used the master-key and opened the room. All the lights were on, things were scattered about the room, and there was indeed the faint sound of running water. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order, but I'm sure you can all easily guess what I was half expecting to find. An older man happened to walk by right at that moment and asked where the ice machine was. I told him and then asked if he minded waiting there while I checked inside the bathroom. The man was very nice and said 'of course.' I propped the door open. As I entered the room Ice Machine Man called out, "I'm a nurse!"

Guest 205/Mr. Smith is so fucking wasteful! Lights on AND water running and he freakin' wasn't even inside the damn room! Our ceiling is soaked, I had a mini-heart attack and all for naught! I turned off the shower, exited the room, and thanked Where's the Ice Machine Man for waiting. He said there was no need and that he was happy to assist. I went back to the front desk and informed Tom that I had stopped the water and the leaks had stopped. I began to wipe the water off the corner wall and try to salvage the papers that had been posted there.

Five bloody minutes later I suddenly notice that the corner next to one of the fluorescent lights has begun to leak! Wtf?!?! I grab a trash can and shove it under the newly irksome water and just like magic Tom calls. He asks how everything looks again and whether or not he should come over. I tell him about the third leak. "I'll be there in five minutes," he says.

As if on cue, Mr. Smith walks through the door having just returned from dinner. Turns out, Mr. Smith is not who I thought he was, which is why I thought he had never left the building (did that make sense? Apparently I was thinking of Guest 108). I tell him that we are having a water problem and ask if it's okay if we have to change his room. Mr. Smith is not amused (I didn't even mention that I had to go into his room AND how wasteful he is). I upgrade him to a King Executive and this appeases him.

The end result: we now have three buckets catching drips from the ceiling, the water has moved into the fluorescent light, and Tom has had to shut the water off to two rooms (Mr. Smith's old room and the adjoining one, which was luckily unoccupied).

And that's that! Next entry's saga: The Tale of the Cookie Nabbers.