Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Egg Family

The Orchid Hotel is one of the more expensive places to stay on Mackinac. I have even been told by many an irate phone caller that it is in fact the most expensive place on Mackinac Island. Whichever may be the case, it is safe to say that about 95% of the Orchid’s guests are fairly wealthy. This, unfortunately, does lead to a certain level of entitlement with many of our guests. When you’re paying anywhere between $500 - $1,000+ for a one night stay I suppose it’s natural to assume that if you ask for something as measly as soy milk for breakfast or a carrot cake at dinner then it will be served to you on a silver plate. However, no matter the request, everything comes down to attitude. If you're nice you'll hopefully get what you want; if you're mean then good luck getting me to send you a bucket of ice promptly.
A few days ago we had two rooms check-in with the same last name. It was obvious this was a family traveling together so when the porters radioed that the Jeff party had arrived I stood at the desk with both registration cards and waited. An Indian man entered the hotel and greeted me as Mr. Jeff. Two young girls came behind him as I showed Mr. Jeff the registration cards.

“I just want to verify that we have you staying for the one night, correct?” I asked.

“Yes, that is correct.”

“And there are three people staying in each room?”


“May we have the names of the other members in each room?”

Mr. Jeff took the pen from my hand. Because he had made the reservations his was the only name listed on the registration cards. He circled his name on both pieces of paper and wrote “& co.” He handed the papers back to me.

“No,” I said, “I need the actual names of each member staying in each room.”

“I do not know who will be in what room yet.”

“That’s fine. If you could just write all of the names then and we’ll sort the rest out later.”

“It is Jeff and company.”

“Yes, but I need the actual names for security purposes.”

“We are not going to steal anything.” He turned as a girl who looked about my age entered the lobby. I assumed this was one of the four adults we had listed between the two rooms (Mr. Jeff had booked the rooms as each consisting of two adults and one child).

“Oh it’s not about that at all! If we have to evacuate the building for any reason then we want to be able to account for everyone.”

“Here, I’ll take care of this,” the new girl said. She took the pen and papers from me and began writing a series of names.

“Do you evacuate the building often?” Mr. Jeff asked with a note of concern.

“Pretty much never, but it’s something we’re very conscious of,” I said. “It’s better to always be prepared.”

Suddenly, I noticed that during this back-and-forth, other members of the Jeff family had arrived. Our porters Ian and Elliot were bringing in bag after bag and the lobby was a jumble of luggage and people. It was clear everyone in the lobby was related to each other, but I couldn’t discern who was actually staying with us and who wasn’t. A few of the family members began taking the bags out the hotel the moment Ian or Elliot set them down. I hoped they had all just carelessly tagged their suitcases for the Orchid Hotel, but were actually staying elsewhere.

A woman appeared next to the girl who was still writing the names of the six people staying in the two rooms. “You have a breakfast?” the woman asked.

“Yes. It’s a light complimentary breakfast and it’s served from 6:30 to 10 a.m. right over there in the circle porch.”

“You have omelettes?”

“No. It’s just a light breakfast with fresh fruit and homemade pastries. There is a more extensive continental breakfast selection available through room service, but that is at an additional cost.”

“There are no omelettes?”

“I’m not actually sure what is available through the extensive breakfast selection, but you’ll find the menu for that in your room. I believe there is some type of egg dish on it.”

“What are the pastries?” the older girl asked, handing me the two registration cards.

“Mini muffins and different types of breads. It changes everyday.”

“Do you have pancakes?” a little girl asked, straining her neck to look over the desktop.

“No. Not that type of bread. Like banana bread or cranberry and walnuts.”

The mother of the group was looking severely offended now. “So there are no omelettes?”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“But it is the weekend...and you will not make us omelettes?”


Had my office manager been checking this family in it is quite probable that this woman would have gotten her way and every single member of the Jeff family would have received their own specially made omelette. Unfortunately for Mrs. Omelette I am not quite as accommodating. I handed her a stack of menus. “These are the places on the island that serve breakfast. I am sure one of them will have an omelette.” I then grabbed two room keys and attempted to lead everyone down the hallway.

I got to Room 104 with only the oldest daughter behind me. “Is there only one bed in here?” she asked, looking around the room.

“Yes. The rollaway will be brought in during turn-down service.”

One of the smaller children entered behind me. Another soon followed, struggling with a bag that was more than half his size. Two other children passed as I rounded the corner to lead the next group to their room. The lobby was still a mess of people and bags. My office manager was standing at the front desk. She looked at me as if to say, “What is going on?” as a few other family members grabbed various bags and walked out of the hotel.

I gave up waiting to catch someone’s attention and went down to Room 106. I held the door open and waited for someone to finally leave the lobby. As I stood there, two old women and an old man walked into Room 104, each holding a small duffle bag. Finally, Mr. Jeff walked down the hallway followed by three grown men. I showed them into the small room consisting of a queen bed and a single-person pullout sofa. Mr. Jeff looked around. “We will need a rollaway for this room,” he said.

I pointed at the sofa. “That pulls out and will be made up during turn-down service.”

“Okay, okay. I will tell you if we need another rollaway. Do not disappear.”

I wanted to ask why a room consisting of two adults and one child would need a third bed, but my question was answered as another pair of grandparents walked into Room 106.

When I got back to the office everyone was staring at each other looking aghast. “How many people just went into those rooms?” Trisha, the office manager, asked.

“Hell if I know!” I exclaimed. “People just kept flooding in behind me in each of those rooms.”

“Did he say there were only three in each room.”

“Yep, but he wouldn’t give me names. Just kept saying, ‘And company.’”

Another desk clerk, Bridget, pulled out the two registration cards. “There are more than three names on these,” she said. Upon closer inspection it wasn’t immediately obvious whether the names listed were even first and last names or just two rows of first names.

Mr. Jeff appeared at the front desk. “We will need those rollaways,” he said.

“Mr. Jeff,” Trisha said, putting on her soothing-but-serious voice, “how many people are staying in each room?”


“Only three people sleeping in each room.”

“Three plus children.”

Obviously, the Egg Family was trying to pull a “fast one” over the hotel. We could tell by looking at Mr. Jeff’s reservation that he had called and spoken with someone to book the two rooms. He had therefore been told that each of those rooms could only hold a maximum of three people (children included).

One of the men who had followed Mr. Jeff into 106 approached the desk. “Can we use those couches?” he asked.


“On that porch.” He was referring to the first floor side porch, which was only available for rooms 102, 104, and 106.

“Oh yes. That porch is only for those of you in those specific rooms.”

“So we can use those couches.”

“Yes...” I wondered what he was actually trying to ask because it was clear he didn’t mean to simply sit on the side porch. “You are sharing it with the other rooms on the first floor,” I added.

“Thank you,” he said as if I had solved some equation for him. I turned to Olga, the Head of Housekeeping. “I think people are going to be sleeping on that porch tonight,” I said.

“They’re probably going to use the cushions and make beds,” Olga replied.

Trisha looked as though she was going into shock. She grabbed the master key, said she was glad the owner of the Orchid was off-island for the weekend, and left.

About an hour later Mrs. Omelette and the eldest daughter came up to the front desk. “The air conditioning in our room doesn’t work,” she said.

“There actually isn’t any air conditioning in those rooms,” I said. Mrs. Omelette looked as though I told her we let horses sleep in her bed.

“What do you mean there is no air conditioning?” Her eyes were intense and threatening, but I was in no mood to make apologizes.

“That is actually very common up here. Many of the hotels do not have any air conditioning. Neither do some restaurants. Even my apartment doesn’t have it. This is Upper Michigan and we really only need it about two weeks out of every year. This weather is unusual for us.”

The mother looked at her daughter with wide eyes. The daughter gave a sharp laugh. “We’re from a different country,” she explained, “that is just unheard of.”

I resisted asking why their registration card listed a Michigan address and using my Cuba-card – you can’t play the “I’m a poor foreigner” game with an international military brat, Eggy!

“So our rooms...have no air conditioning?” Mrs. Omelette repeated in case I hadn’t understood the question.

“I can give you a fan,” I said with perhaps more attitude than I should have.

“Well, there are just so many problems I have with this hotel,” Mrs. Omelette said, stuffing her scarf into a small purse.

“I am sorry to hear that,” I said, trying desperately to lose the sass.

“Like the décor,” the daughter laughed.

“Yes...the décor is interesting.” Mrs. Omelette then cocked her head and raised an eyebrow at me. “And sad.”

I stared at her for a moment, so taken aback by the blatantly antagonizing remark. My mind raced with, “I was just thinking how funny it was that your outfit matched the walls perfectly,” “Everyone has their own tastes, don’t they,” and the standard juvenile, “Your face is sad.” Luckily, I choked down the string of snarky remarks I wanted to respond and instead smiled widely, said, “Thank you so much,” and walked away. When I relayed all of this to my office manager she said that we must simply “kill them with kindness.” I said shutting off their power would be more effective. (I later learned that Room 106 asked for three rollaways at the end of the night. This is not Hogwarts. Where exactly were three twin beds going to fit?)

For as nice and accommodating as Trisha is with every entitled and rude person who walks through our door, there are times when she enacts a very subtle and nearly unnoticeable form of revenge. Right before I left for the day Room 102 checked out early. As usual, they simply did not want to stay in a room without air conditioning, but they were very nice about the entire situation. We were fully booked for the night and didn’t have any air conditioned rooms to upgrade them to so they packed their bags and left for another hotel. This move was most likely for the best because not only would the guests have been sweaty and miserable, but they were the only other room sharing that side porch with the Egg Family. Sometimes when a large family is crammed into a small room, Trisha offers them a complimentary extra room or, if it is available, a suite.

The next morning the Front Desk message pad consisted of only one comment from the night auditor: “Did anyone think to offer R 102 to R’s 104 & 106?”

Apparently not.

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Gettin' Hot in Here

This week marks my third week on Mackinac Island. Or maybe it's my fourth? Let's be honest, when you're on "island time" the days and weeks seem to become one whole. Thus far the Orchid Hotel has been busier than ever. The staff is about 60% new and 40% 'returners'. Our restaurant is full four out of the seven nights we're open and we have had zero rooms vacant at the hotel on several occasions.

Sadly, the hotel has been slightly lacking in the "interesting characters" category this season although the severe heat wave striking the non-air conditioned Midwest has caused many of our guests to be grumpy and irritable. This has lead me to create The Problem Child(ren) of the Orchid Hotel awards. Already in my short time here I have realized that these awards will have to be given out weekly with maybe even a few Honorable Mentions here and there. Lately, these awards have been given to the people who come to the Front Desk, angry that their room does not have air conditioning (as is common to Mackinac Island hotels/the entire Upper Peninsula), and demand an upgrade. As mentioned above, often this upgrade to a waterfront room with air conditioning is simply not possible because we have no vacant rooms. This led one couple to angrily slam their key on the desk and stomp out of the hotel without ever checking out and another to ask to speak to management at least once every half hour.

However, there are those Problem Children recipients who I believe would have earned their award whether the temperature was a blazing 92 or a cool 70 degrees. Take the Hildebrands for example. From the moment they checked in they had something to complain about. As one of my co-workers, Rachel, welcomed the Hildebrands to the Orchid Hotel Mrs. Hildebrand asked if they had a waterfront room. Rachel explained to them that they had booked a Gardenside room and that we were full for the night and had no other rooms to even let them consider. The Hildebrands were not happy. They had booked their reservation online and had either not understood the term "Gardenside" or perhaps thought we were at liberty to upgrade everyone. Rachel showed them to their room and listened as they complained about the view, size of the room, and then gasped at how they could possibly be expected to stay in a room without air conditioning.

Over the next two nights Mrs. Hilderbrand continued to nitpick everything about the hotel: turn-down service started too late, why was there no ice machine (we have it sent to your room), why did they have to pay full-rate for their son who wanted to spontaneously join them the next day, etc etc. Typically these complaints went to poor Rachel. One evening, Rachel was on the phone when Mrs. Hildebrand came up to the desk. Thinking Rachel probably needed a break, I got up and greeted Mrs. Hildebrand. "I've been working with her," she said coldly, pointing at Rachel through the small glass window. "Oh," I responded, a bit hurt that she wasn't even going to give me the opportunity to try and assist her. I suppose I should have thanked her because for the next half hour she gave Rachel flack about trying to book the room for her son and his girlfriend who had suddenly decided to join them. (And she demanded a rollaway to be put in the room because an extra bed will certainly keep premarital sex from happening.)

On their last evening with us, Mrs. Hildebrand came up to the desk once again and was kind enough to speak to me. "There's a man on the rocks behind your restaurant with his pants down," she said. "You need to call management because it's inappropriate." Her son was with her and added, "There are children out there."

"Certainly," I responded. "I'll call our night manager right now."

Now, knowing Mrs. Hildebrand's M.O. I assumed some young kid was climbing around on the rocks and was wearing pants that sagged below his butt. However, I knew not calling our night manager would do more harm than good so I dialed Trey's cellphone number.

"Hello, Hotel."

"Trey, a guest just complained that there's a man behind the restaurant with his pants down."

"..." (Trey isn't exactly a prude and doesn't really care what people are doing as long as they are not destroying the hotel.)

"She's a guest who complains a lot and I think she's just going to get really uppity if she doesn't see someone checking," I explained. "She just said a guy has his pants down and that it's inappropriate."

"Alright, I'll go take a look."

Ten minutes later Trey entered the hotel looking perplexed. I was on the phone so Rachel relayed exactly what Mrs. Hildebrand and Hildebrand Jr. had said to me. I saw Mrs. Hildebrand walk in and tried to point to her through the office window so that Trey wouldn't make one of his normal snarky remarks. Mrs. Hildebrand pointed out the window and then took Trey with her to show him exactly what was going on. Rachel and I watched as the Hildebrand clan lined up against the fence bordering the park next to the hotel. They were all pointing at the lake. Rachel and I went into the owner's office so that we could see what they were pointing at. Nothing. What the hell was going on?

We sat back at our desks and joked about how much Trey was obviously enjoying all of this. We waited for him to return and tell us what morons the Hildebrands were, but as the minutes passed he never did. Suddenly we heard a commotion in the front lobby.

"Can you see them?" a guest coming down the stairs asked a couple sitting in the glassed-in porch.

"We just saw the girl," the woman in the chair responded.

"It doesn't look good," the sitting man said.

"His pants were down and everything!" exclaimed the woman who was now off the stairs and careening her neck to see a spot in the lake.

Rachel and I were fed up. I leaned over the desk, "What exactly is happening?" I asked. "We can't see anything back here, but we just keep hearing about a guy with his pants down behind the restaurant."

"Not the restaurant," Sitting Man responded, "they're on the break wall."

For my non-coastal living readers, break walls are barriers set up along shorelines as a defense against rough waves. Sometimes these are large cinder blocks or, like on Mackinac Island, they are gigantic (almost five to six feet tall) rocks. While technically these rocks are behind the Orchid's restaurant, the break wall is actually located about seven or so yards from the hotel and sits about three to four yards from the shore. These were definitely not the rocks I thought Mrs. Hildebrand had been talking about.

Rachel and I dashed into the owner's office once again. Finally we could see everything: the crowd of people watching the activity occurring at the break wall, the two cops standing at the edge of the shoreline, and a man in a bright green shirt wading back to dry land. We wondered what he was doing out there by himself and then we saw the top of a woman's head from behind one of the massive break wall rocks. As soon as she hit the water it was obvious Home Girl (as we termed her) was not having a good time. She stumbled a bit, but managed to keep herself from face planting into the cold water. At first we thought she was perhaps not coordinated in the water and walking on the slippery rocks. When she finally reached dry land, however, we could see that too much water was not Home Girl's problem. While one of the cops talked to Home Boy the other tried desperately to keep Home Girl upright. Even from yards away Rachel and I could see her hysterical tears as her body wobbled violently to and fro. We looked over to the fence where the Hildebrands looked on scornfully. Trey was grinning ear to ear.

The owner's office can neither see nor hear what is happening at the front desk so Rachel and I took shifts to keep each other updated.

"Home Girl is on the ground now," Rachel said. "Oh oh, and now she's puking. Oh man. The cop is just standing over her. Come on, at least hold her hair back or something."


"Okay she's standing now," I reported, "and whoa she's pissed. We've got arms flying everywhere. Oh yeah, she is not happy." I opened the window. "I can't hear what she's saying, but I can tell she's yelling."


"Now they're both on the ground. Oh, Home Girl's trying to get up. Nope - she's down again."


"The Hildebrands are at a picnic table giving their statements to a cop. Good god, I bet this has just made their night."


"Home Girl is puking again. Where are her shoes? Where are either of their shoes?"


"There are a lot more people gathered around now. They're both sitting and the cop is doing something behind Home Girl's back...there's no way they're cuffing them. Are they cuffing them?"

They were. I called Rachel over and we watched as Home Boy and Girl did the walk-of-shame across the point and straight into a police cruiser. Mackinac Island is a no-cars allowed town with the only exception being emergency and construction vehicles. When the cop cars come out you know something serious is going down. For this circumstance the SUV cruiser seemed a bit overkill, but with the strength one of the cops was using to keep Home Girl on her feet it was clear the car was not due to the severity of the crime, but the fact that one of the two delinquents probably could not make the quarter of a mile walk to the police station. Poor Home Girl sobbed and yelled all the way into the car.

When Trey finally appeared back in the office he was like a kid on Christmas; he absolutely loves when people make fools of themselves (and being Mackinac's Fire Chief he's always one of the first to know when someone is making a fool of themselves). He filled in the rest of the story for us: Home Boy did not just had his pants down on the break wall. He and Home Girl had been up against on of the rocks having sex. Now, I should mention that this was not happening at 10 or 11 at night. Oh no. The entire ordeal spanned from about 7:45 to 9pm. The sun does not even begin setting until 9:30pm. Home Boy and Girl did it against the rocks for all of the world to see (they could have at least been smart enough to lay down between the rocks and try to shield themselves) and even had children throwing rocks at them to make them stop (hence the "there are children out there" observation). I swear you cannot make this stuff up (well...you can, but isn't it so much better knowing that it's all real?).

Nearing the end of my shift (Rachel left at 10pm and I continued on until midnight) Trey suddenly burst through the office door. His eyes were wide with excitement and he smiled like the Grinch after he took all of Whoville's Christmas presents. "Georgia, it gets better!" he cackled. I waited as he caught his breath. The man was literally giddy with whatever news he had just ascertained from one of his cop buddies.

"So, we have shipped Home Boy over to the mainland because not only does he already have a string of priors on his record, but there is a felony arrest warrant out for him." I started to gasp. "Wait," Trey said, "it gets better. Home Girl is only twenty so we obviously gave her an MIP [Minor in Possession] AND..." he paused, giving the punchline the weight it deserved, "Home Boy and Home Girl are HALF brother and sister."


"That is the BEST shit I have ever heard!"

"That sounds like something that should happen in my area of the country."

"Doesn't it?! Oh my god I love my job sometimes."

And thus ends our tale of The Break Wall Bangers.