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 ( 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.  

1 comment: