And Then I Fell Out the Window

Life, examined and punted around

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Tales from Work: Checking In or Checking Out?

As with other TFWs, I’ve changed the names of my coworkers.

After a challenging (read: crappy) summer of job searching, I landed (settled for) a full-time job at a hotel downtown as a front desk agent. Not exactly using my English major, but it’s a full time job with a starting wage that’s a respectable distance from minimum wage, so in this day and age, I can’t really complain.

And, as I’m quickly learning, my work is going to be chock full of story fodder. And that’s what matters, right? I was flung right into the flurry of the hotel. They’re so busy that nobody had much time to train me on the first day. With 234 rooms to check in, check out, and keep happy, my main task was staying out of the way and watching saucer-eyed, giving guests apologetic smiles when they saw my nametag and expected me to be able to help them. I looked the part, but this wasn’t exactly a situation where I could “fake it till I make it.”

When the chaos died down a bit, a manager, Nora, made a few introductions. She calls Jennifer “Juniper” and the introduces me a man a couple of years younger than me. “This is Ben but I call him Andrew,” Nora says.

Andrew-who-is-actually-named-Ben started 5 days ago. He looks overwhelmed. “Brace yourself,” he tells me, and Nora whacks him on the arm.

I was soon shuffled into a small office with Nora, who paused in her training every 20 seconds to answer the phone. It’s funny how everyone’s voice goes up to a higher, sugary tone when addressing a guest on the phone. “Thank you for calling [hotel name], how may I direct your call?” The front desk agents will practically squeak. If it’s another employee calling, their voices immediately drop an octave and back to their normal voice. “Oh my God, what do you want? …Well, they need to tell me these things earlier! Ugh, I hate you!” They’d then slam the phones down and mutter about housekeeping.

Nora got several calls from employees while I sat in, most of them dealing with yapping dogs in room 400. “Those pooches are still barking? What kinda dogs are they? Well, should we just get the pooches out of there? And you can’t contact the guest?”

The hotel is dog-friendly, but, as Nora explains to me between phone calls, you have to sign a pet waiver in which you agree to keep your dog with you at all times. The guests in room 400 evidently hadn’t told the hotel about the dogs and hadn’t signed a waiver.

“Well, can’t we just take the pooches out of there?” Evidently other guests were complaining about the barking. Nora grumbles as she hangs up. “Why would they bring their dogs to a wedding anyway, unless they were going to be the pallbearers?” I guess that she meant “ring bearers”, but I don’t say anything.

“Have you worked in a hotel before?” Nora asks me. I tell her I have not. “Ohhh, boy, I tell you. You will see things. No matter how many stories you’ve heard, no matter what’s happened to you, you’ve never seen everything.”

I am intrigued and terrified. What have I gotten myself into?