Friday, May 15, 2015

Where's Norman Bates When I Need Him?

The Elk Inn is a drug-free workplace. Before I could start my first day of work I had to be tested and was told that I couldn't work until the results came back. Right before I arrived in Colorado, three housekeepers were let-go for testing positive for marijuana. Now, I get that companies do not want their employees showing up stoned to work, but I think testing positive for pot in a state where weed is legal is just ridiculous. First off, weed is different than alcohol in that you do not have to be actively high to test positive. You don't even need to have smoked in the past 24 hours! In order to test positive for marijuana on a drug test you have to have smoked sometime in the past week or two (depending on the type of test they administer). As someone who does not smoke (because every time I do I think I'm going to die -- yep, I'm one of those people), I think this is grossly unfair to the workers here because they are not breaking any laws by smoking and they are not necessarily smoking before coming into work. Maybe they have a joint before bed! What's the harm in that? Hell, weed is safer than alcohol and yet I could drink 3 bottles of wine today and be tested next week and nothing would happen. If I smoke one joint today, however, and am tested next week then I am out of a job.

I get that this company is trying to maintain a professional workplace and that this is a corporate policy, but this is also Colorado. This is a summer seasonal workplace in Colorado. Pot is legal here. I pass a dispensary every time I drive up and down the mountain! This company needs to make some accommodations or else they are going to be hiring and firing staff every single week. (Also, pot isn't legal in Michigan and yet more than half of my Mackinac hotel's staff smoked daily. Did the management drug test everyone? No, because then they would have lost their entire restaurant staff.)

So this little tirade brings me to yesterday: the Elk Inn is hosting a three-day Letter Carriers conference (yes -- postal workers) and had 100+ check-outs and 100+ check-ins...and four housekeepers...Needless to say, it was mass chaos. Most of the letter carriers arrived between 1 and 4pm. Everyone who has ever stayed at a hotel knows that your room will not technically be ready until check-in time, but more often than not it is ready earlier than that. However, the rooms at the Elk Inn were not finished until 5pm. 5 P.M. Even I will admit that this is unacceptable. I get that there were only four housekeepers and I am not blaming them. Those poor people were completely overworked yesterday! However, had the drug test policy not been in place, the Elk Inn would have had 7 housekeepers, plus one manager helping out, and that would have doubled the speed.

I got to work at 2:30pm and was met with a crowded lobby and grumpy guests. It was my second day on the job. Thankfully I am already familiar with the hotel's reservation system, but I am two-years out of practice so there is still a learning curve. For example, my Mackinac hotel preassigned every room. The Elk Inn does that for certain rooms, but not others ( I have no idea why). When a room would finally be marked as 'clean' I would try to put a guest in there, but the system would tell me it was reserved for someone else. Another new guy was working with me and not only was this his second day on the job as well, but it was his second day working for any hotel in general. My roommate, who we will call Apple, was also checking people in, but basically all the three of us could do was apologize to guests, get their cellphone number, and tell them we would call as soon as their room was ready.

Now, these Letter Carriers were here for a conference. The conference starts today, but there was a little reception for everyone who checked in yesterday. We had a conference room full of goodies and a hotel room reserved for everyone to relax in, leave their stuff, and eat and drink. I understood that everyone checking in was unhappy not to have a room ready, but it also wasn't like they had no where to go. There were also certain reservations that were being held under one name and paid for by a company credit card. This was a tad confusing because Group A was being held under the name Batman (not really) and Batman's card was paying for everything, but we still needed a credit card from each guest for incidentals. Group B was being held under Superman, but Superman was not paying for the rooms so we needed to swipe each person's card and charge it.

This brings us to Mrs. Bitch (I know I usually make up a more clever name, but this is more accurate). Mrs. Bitch was with Group A. Mrs. Bitch showed up sometime around 2:30pm and was told we did not have a room ready for her. At 4:45pm I was FINALLY able to get Mrs. Bitch and her husband into a room. Mrs. Bitch was clearly unhappy and I understood her frustration. I asked for a credit card for incidentals. She was a bit taken aback and I explained that the card would not be charged (I wasn't even swiping it into the computer for god's sake -- I was simply copying the numbers into her reservation) unless she and her husband ordered something, put something on their room bill, etc etc. I gave them their keys and sent them on their way. I forgot to click "check-in" until they were gone and when I did, Batman's credit card (the card that was paying for the room) declined. Oh shit. I told my supervisor, Cookie, and we found that Batman's card was only authorizing on 3 of his 10 reservations. The other 7 were declining. Cookie told me to go ahead and authorize Mrs. Bitch's card until Batman arrived and could provide a new form of payment. I went back into the reservation and found, to my horror, that, when the card declined, I had closed out the screen without saving my changes. Thus, Mrs. Bitch's credit card was not saved in her reservation and there was no payment for the room. Cookie told me we would deal with it whenever Batman arrived.

The rest of the afternoon remained this chaotic. People tried to check-in, we tried to get them into rooms, and it was just all very sloppy and made me miss the efficiency of my old hotel. Around 6pm Mrs. Bitch came up to the front desk, making a beeline for me. Her eyebrows were pinched together, her mouth was tight, and you could feel the hatred pouring out of her.

She motioned to a group of Letter Carriers sitting in the lobby. "That woman says you didn't take her card at check-in and I want to know why you took mine."

"That was just for incidentals," I said, "your card will not actually be charged unless you put something on the room."

"But why was mine taken and hers wasn't?"

"Every reservation is different. I promise that your card is not going to be charged. I didn't even swipe it into the computer."


Now, I'm just going to take a moment and say that my tolerance for being bullied is at an all time low. The shit I have gone through at graduate school this past year has made me very sensitive and a bit bitter at feeling like I'm being jerked around or walked on and, let's face it, I don't need this summer job. Thus, I was a bit more casual (and in the end: snippy) with Mrs. Bitch than I ever would have been at my Mackinac hotel (Cindy, if you're reading this, I'm sorry).

I leaned over the counter to look at the group of Letter Carriers. "What woman are you talking about?" I asked.

"That woman." She pointed to a lady with red hair.

"Honestly," I said, feeling a bit fed-up, "I did not check her in. Out of the people under Batman's name I only checked you in so no, I did not take her card because I did not check her in. We are supposed to take a credit card for incidentals and I cannot help it if whoever checked her in did not do that."

"Well that's just really bad management. You should all be doing the same thing!"

"I absolutely agree. We should all be doing the same thing and I am really sorry that we aren't. Two of us are brand new -- it's our second day -- and we're still learning. I am really sorry that it's all been so chaotic."

"I just want to let you know how angry I am," No shit, Sherlock. "I have never seen a place so disorganized."

"I agree with you. This has been really awful."

"You shouldn't take my card unless you're taking EVERYONE'S card."

I leaned towards her. "Look," I said, "I am going to be honest with you. I messed up. Batman's card declined while I was trying to check you in and when it did that, I should have hit 'save,' but I didn't, and your card was wiped from our system. You card is not in our computer at all."

"And yet you took MY card and not her's?!"

"Again, I did not check her in. And your card is not in our computer whatsoever."

"I am really angry about this. ALL OF THIS."

"I totally get that and I think you should be because the way everything was handled today just sucks. I can offer you a voucher for two free drinks in our restaurant -- actual alcohol, not just like a coke or something. I am really sorry, but this is literally all I can give you and we're actually not even supposed to give these out."

The woman took the drink ticket and stared at me. It was clear she was calculating something behind her beady little eyes, but I couldn't figure out what. I had just told her that her card information wasn't saved so there was no way she was getting charged for the room. Even if she was charged (which she couldn't be without handing over a credit card again), her company would obviously pay her back so it wasn't like she was losing any money on this. I was giving her coveted free drink tickets and sincerely agreeing with her in her anger. What more did she want??

She studied the drink tickets. "If it were up to me," she said, "I wouldn't stay here."

"I don't blame you," I replied.

"I am going to recommend that we never stay here again."

"As you should."

"The check-in process was awful."

"I agree with you 120%."

"If it were up to me, I would leave tonight."

At this point, my tolerance meter exploded and I just wanted her gone before my anger began to match hers. "I get that," I said, "and again, I am really sorry, but I have done everything in my power to make you happy. Obviously nothing is going to work so I have nothing else to say to you." And then I turned away from her and waited on another guest.

I was shaking at this point. This woman's anger had gotten under my skin so much that all I could think was Screw this. I don't need this job. I can just leave and have an actual summer break. I don't need this. I don't need to be treated like this. I'm unhappy at grad school, so why be unhappy even when I'm not there? Screw these people.

Luckily, I didn't exactly abandon ship immediately and felt a bit better as I hung out with my coworkers and met some nicer guests (although, I won't lie, the ratio was about 70:30 for cranky vs nice). Cookie told me that the craziness of today -- being short staffed in housekeeping, not having rooms ready on time, and having disgruntled guests -- is not unusual for this property or for Estes Park in general. So that's...not encouraging.

Later that night, Cookie took me on a tour of the property. We walked through the kitchen, the storage area, accounting, the conference center, etc. The Elk Inn is made up of three buildings: two buildings of rooms and the conference center. Cookie and I entered on the first floor of Building 2 and started to walk down the hallway towards a group of people when suddenly I heard, "And she took MY card for incidentals, but not anyone else's." I froze and whispered to Cookie, "That's the bitch." We both stood there for a moment, unseen by Mrs. Bitch as she repeated, "She took MY card, but no one else's!" I struggled between wanting to turn around and run or walk up and say, "Hey! That's a lie, just FYI, and you know it. Also, it was your husband's credit card, not your own, because you're one of those women whose only identity is through their husband, which I know because when I asked for your name at check-in you said 'Mrs. Kenneth Rotolo*,' which is clearly not your name. So, if you have a problem, let's do this RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. SO HELP ME I WILL PUSH YOU INTO A HERD OF ELK."

Instead, Cookie and I turned around and went out the back door. We went to Building 3 and entered on the basement level. He showed me the hotel rooms where a few employees had to live last summer when the dorms became too crowded. We started to go up a set of stairs when we heard voices. It was Mrs. Bitch again. She was still complaining about me, about the hotel, and just about life in general because she is clearly a sorry, bitter woman who has nothing better to do. I know that may make me sound bitter, but it's just true. Any sane human being knows that the person behind a desk is usually not the one with the power, or the one who is making your day harder than it should be. Instead, that person behind the desk is doing their job, they are trying to appease you as much as possible, and, basically, they are a face for you to yell at. Also, this woman was easily 50 years old. Grow up and find something else to talk about.

Cookie and I stayed at the bottom of the stairs and listened to Mrs. Bitch say how we gave her the "round around," how we had "manipulated" her, and then she said she was going to break something inside the hotel room and "just say that I found it that way. How would they know?" The person who was with her said, "Yeah, but they have your credit card on file so I wouldn't risk it," and Mrs. Bitch responded sadly, "Damn. I know. I forgot about that." Yeah -- and you also forgot that I told you I didn't save your card information. MAYBE IF YOU WOULD LISTEN TO OTHER PEOPLE INSTEAD OF ONLY LISTENING TO YOURSELF YOU WOULD REMEMBER THAT.

After listening to this woman for about five minutes, my anger subsided slightly. Hearing that woman fabricate my conversation with her (she claims that she asked to check into her room and I said, "Absolutely not!") and bitch over and over about the hotel and the front desk staff -- I began to feel sorry for her. What a horrible and lonely life she must have to get so angry about a sloppy check-in process. No one got hurt. Her bank account wasn't drained. She wasn't sent outside to wait in the cold for hours. In fact, she was offered a room with her "friends" and given free booze and a fruit parfait. She was even given two vouchers for free drinks AND she wasn't even paying for her hotel room (also, she's from Colorado Springs, so it's not like she flew here or traveled a great distance). And yet, a sloppy check-in process ruined her entire day and I am going to go ahead and assume her entire week. In fact, I bet she will talk about this for the next year or any time someone mentions Estes Park. What a truly sad and angry life she must lead. On top of all of that, her face looks like an angry emu. 

Sorry. I couldn't resist! 

By the end of the night, everyone had felt Mrs. Bitch's wrath. Before Cookie and I ran into her in the hallway/stairwell, Mrs. Bitch had been in the lobby yelling to her friends, "Fuck this hotel! This hotel is the worst! I will never stay here again!" Batman, who had finally showed up, told her to calm down and that everything would be fixed in the morning. He explained that he had forgotten to up the credit limit on their company card and that that was why his card declined. According to Apple, Batman said, "You won't be charged for the room. I will fix it all in the morning and the front desk staff has been helping me out." Mrs. Bitch responded, "Fuck. This. Hotel. We will never stay here again!" That's fine with us, Mrs. Bitch. Your presence will not be missed!

*People who are super mean and ugly do not get the liberty of having their name changed in this blog.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that you managed to avoid "going postal" on this post.