Monday, August 12, 2013

Heads in Beds and Other Stuff

My neighbor's son  worked in management positions for a number of high end hotels.  He's the one who lives in the condo overlooking Chicago's Navy Pier - the condo in which Lady Gaga owns a penthouse. Scroll back several posts to see some pictures of her "apartment".  Every job has it's colorful tales, and dark corners we aren't supposed to know about.  I thought it might be fun to see what his life was like for so many years.

Heads in Beds isn't as shocking as I expected, although the author does provide several helpful hints on how to get an upgrade, and how to not ever pay for anything one consumes from the in-room mini-bar. Being a step away from agoraphobic, I was hoping for some awesomely disgusting insights into hotel culture, giving me even more reasons to not venture too far from home.  However, so far, the majority of sinful misbehavior  have been behind the closed doors of paying guests - including several dicey celebrity romps.  

The memoir follows the hotel management career of the author starting with his months as a valet parker. Nothing surprised me there.  Come on, even I am not so naive as to think these guys really care about the safety of your car.  Tomsky tells about teaching a new valet how to drive a stick using a guest's Bentley - followed by dings, and dents, and full blown car crushing accidents.  What did surprise me is that many hotels do not have their own parking lots.  The valets drive around town until they find street parking for a vehicle, and then draw a map on the back of the ticket so the retrieving valet can find your car - or so the retrieving valet can almost always find your car.  

As manager of housekeeping, he witnessed glassware being wiped down with used bath towels, and hotel staff enjoying a few private moments in your room while you're out.  That's about as far as I got yesterday, but it appears that Tomsky is finally getting warmed up.  Perhaps I'll share more next week.

Like many of you, I am dealing with roof rage, both at the store and at home.  Even though insurance will cover things, it's painful to jump through the necessary hoops.  As I result, I was in need of some retail therapy last weekend.  Accompanying the therapy were these two interesting customer service incidents.

Episode One: On Saturday, I visited a local big box sore with the sole intention of buying a new camera to replace the one I clumsily ruined.  No need for details there; suffice it to say I did something stupid and it cost me.  I knew what I wanted so I figured this would only take 10 minutes or so.  Wrong.

I went to the electronics department located at the back of the store and I waited.  I looked at all the camera offerings and settled in one one I thought would be a reasonable replacement.  I waited.  I looked at videos and Cd's..  I waited.  I looked for a bell, a phone or a buzzer.  Yes, I even went behind the electronics counter to see if a clerk had crawled into one of the unlocked cabinets and died.  After 15 minutes or more, I wandered out of the department and halfway through the store before I found someone who appeared to be associated with the establishment.  He knew nothing about cameras but promised me that "Bill" would be able to help me shortly.  Eventually, Bill showed up, stopped about six feet from me and hollered  "Can I help you?"

I coaxed him closer, and asked him a few questions about the camera at which point he went behind the counter and grabbed the box.  Handing it to me he said "Everything you need to know is on the box."  "But, does it come with memory card?" I asked.  "I dunno.  What does it say on the box"  

Yes, I bought the camera, but I sure hope that no one needed to buy a big screen TV from good old, uber helpful Bill.  Did I mention that he didn't move his lips when he talked.  Who hired this guy?  How did he get through the interview?  

Episode Two:  I recently closed my Netflix account which means I get to peruse the library video collection or go to a video store.  Video store it was on Saturday night.  "You haven't been here for several years," the clerk said.  "Why?"

 I know market research when I hear it - even at a primitive level like this.  They want to know what is cutting into their business.  Netflix?  Streaming video?  The economy?  After the camera debacle, I was not interested in helping anyone.  Besides that, the clerk was reading from a script, slapping lables on DVD cases, and could not have been more disengaged with the process.  I decided to be snarky. I  needed a bit of fun.  "I have been living in Paris."  No reaction.  "Travelling through the Parisian desert by camel."  No reaction from her but the guy behind me, a local school administrator whispered  "This is great, don't stop."  I continued.  "I was aiding a group of gypsies fleeing a leprechaun who had stolen their tambourines."  She continues to put labels on DVD cases and finally said, "Three-fifty."

I grabbed the DVD and lingered just long enough to hear the guy behind me say "Well, my cat died and I have been in mourning for about four years.  And then...."

Life is grand.  Embrace the silliness.

Thanks for stopping by.