Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dear Hotel Guests

Working in the hotel industry, I get a different side of things from everyone staying at the hotel.  Whereas they are out to supposedly have a relaxing time away from home, I am trying to earn a living without having to gently sob at my desk at least three hours every day.  However, guests rarely hold up their end of the bargain, making me break mine.  It almost feels like the majority of people become even more edgy and prickish when they stay at a hotel.  Normal people suddenly feel the need to be pampered and preened by people barely making minimum wage, and if they don't get what they want, they throw hissy fits and threaten to post bad things on TripAdvisor.  Well guess what?  I don't negotiate with terrorists.  Maybe they feel like since they have to pay to stay there, they are owed everything, but in reality, I am just renting you a room for a finite amount of time.  The right there is where one of the dumbest things I see in my line of work occurs.

We are very clear with people that check in time starts at 3PM, and that you must check out of your room by 11AM.  We are not a large hotel, and we have to get the rooms cleaned up for the next arrival.  I'd say 70% of the arguments people have with me on any given day stem from their not wanting to honor our checkin or checkout times.  Fine.  Ok.  I get it.  You want in earlier and out later.  This is somewhat understandable, but not practical, so that's not what this letter is about.  It is about checkouts though.

I've worked my job for eight years.  Somehow, it still amazes me every time that when people come to the Front Desk to check out, I have to ask them, "Are you completely out of the room?"  I have to do this, because there is a 50% chance I will get an answer somewhere along the lines of, "No, I just have to go back in and get my things" or "No, I'll be out in 30 minutes though".  You cannot check out of a room if you are planning on going back into that room.  It negates the entire purpose of checking out, yet people think it is a perfectly natural thing to do.  By that very same logic, I should be able to check you in at 3PM, and not let you into the room for a couple hours.  Something tells me you'd have a pretty big problem with that one, but hey, why listen to the guy that does this for a living?  You know more than I do anyway. 

Everyone lately is so damned worried about not shopping on Thanksgiving.  Do you care the other 364 days of the year when you mock, berate, and make life hell for customer service workers?  Does anyone care when they book hotel rooms or go to restaurants on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or do we only care that the good people of Radio Shack get to have turkey with their families?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dear Sleep

For someone with anxiety issues, sleep can be a blessing.  If I am able to get my body calmed down for long enough to let sleep take hold, I am almost guaranteed several hours of uninterrupted stress free time.  Unless work calls and wakes me up in the middle of the night, that time is mine to relax and let my fragile-frankie body and mind revive itself for another round of grief the next day.  As a bonus, ever since I started taking pills to make my brain ticks and chiggers whither and die, my dreams have been much more vivid and exciting.  One of them is even the basis for an entire subplot in the novel I pretend to work on between blog posts.  Much like most things in my life, I should have tempered myself when a good thing showed up, because inevitably it would be used to harm me.

It started off so grand.  I had dreams in amazing locations, bursting with vibrant colors I hadn't seen in my dreams for years.  One dream the other night, I moved to a wonderful theme park type city where everyone had videogame powers.  I took special pills that gave me super jumps, and I could bound across the land, and hop from rooftop to rooftop.  Basically, I lived like Nicholas Cage thinks he does.  I had another dream where I was hunting monsters through a gigantic warehouse.  That was intense, but so much fun.  You haven't really slept until you've obliterated a nest of leprechauns using a coffee can full of homemade napalm.  Little bastards couldn't find the end of that rainbow. 

Other dreams took me back to places from my past.  Several dreams involve some semblance of the house I lived in when I was in Delaware, albeit with odd new floor plans and hidden passages.  I have dreams involving friends I haven't talked to for quite sometime every so often as well.  These dreams sometimes give me insight into our relationship that I had never thought of while waking.  Several of my friends have received "Had a dream about you last night, that means its been too long" emails.  Most dread the "I had a sex dream about you last night" email I send as well. 

The worst came a few days ago. Sometime around 6:45AM, I started to have a dream where I was still on my high school baseball team.  I had roped a shot out into centerfield and somehow pushed my tank of a body into second base for a double.  Since in this dream I was clearly the great white hope when it came to running, I took a gracious lead off of second and tore off on the pitch to steal third.  In fact, I was so fast in this dream, that no sooner had I leapt from my lead, I crashed headfirst into the third baseman and laid on the floor in agony.

Unfortunately, this was not all just a dream, only the stuff leading up to head injury.  Sleeping on my stomach, and apparently in a half sleep, I brought my left leg underneath my chest as I prepared to steal third in my dream.  When I took off in the dream, my real body used the coiled leg to catapult my body forward, which just so happened to be where the wall behind my bed lives.  The wall and my head did the favor of denting each other before I grabbed my head and fell out of bed to the floor.  Not only was my head gashed and openly bleeding, but two toenails on my foot ripped out as my foot pushed off the bed.  I lay on my back, on the carpet, dazed and bleeding from my head and foot.  I could only assume I'd been thrown out and disgraced the team. 

That's right, I even injure myself in my sleep.  Even crack addled balloons in a razor blade factory have a longer expiration date than a man that slams his head full force into walls when he is supposed to be in blissful slumber. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dear Neil Gaiman

As a famous author, it is your job to let me know whether you are a good writer or not.  I tell people all the time that I am the best at writing, so that they can use their time reading my excellent work instead of debating my greatness.  I do this, because I care about my readers.

I read your book "Good Omens" in college.  It was good.  Really damned good.  Good enough that my roommate Scotty Bob, who lent me the book, and I aped the style for a theater scene we needed to write.  Thievery is the sincerest form of flattery.  However, since you are too busy writing books to keep reminding me that I like your style, I neglected to read anything else you wrote for about ten years.  This probably wouldn't have changed had my Amazon Daily Kindle Deal not had two of your books each for $2.  I vaguely remembered enjoying your work, so I bought Americans Gods and Neverwhere, then promptly left them on my Kindle unread for several months.    Then, when I was at a bookstore, they had a hardcover copy of Stories for $5, and I picked that up too.  It went on the bookshelf, unread as well. 

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I worked my way through several other books I had been waiting to read.  Not many of them really stayed with me, and I wanted something good.  For lack of anything else jumping out at me, I started Neverwhere. 

I remember circumstances surrounding when I read several of my favorite novels.  I was home sick from middle school, and my mother picked up a copy of Dean Koontz's Tick Tock on a whim, even though she nor I had ever read him before.  My disease riddled body strained to stay awake so that I could read more.  Many years, and several other Koontz books later, she found a new novel by him, Odd Thomas, and purchased it for me for Christmas.  I still remember having to put the book down near the end because it was too much to take in.  I remember picking up And Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris at a Barnes and Noble right after graduating college, joyous that I now again had free time to read whatever I wanted, not just what I was told to.  I remember picking up Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing at the library on the way to work, needing something to read on a slow winter day while watching the phones.  I read it in two days, forsaking most everything else to keep reading. 

I'll remember sitting up at night and reading Neverwhere and inhabiting that world of London Below with the characters.  I was overjoyed to find that it was both a BBC miniseries as well as a radioplay, and I devoured both of those as well.  I regret that I may have taken years more to do so, however, since the simple cover gave no indication at the greatness that lay within. 

Had you taken the time to write me, call, or just name the book, "Hey Greg, You'll Love This", perhaps I could have arrived at this point some ten years ago, and been all the more happy for it.  No, you didn't though.  You were lazy, and I have so much lost time to make up.  Not to say that I automatically went ahead and read American Gods when I was finished.  That and Stories are still on the backburner, because you haven't told me to read them, and I never learn my lesson. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Audience at the Mike Birbiglia show

Much like morons who talk and make noise through a movie, I have no respect for someone who goes to a show or play and disrespects those onstage.  You paid money to see this a professional do their job, so why do you feel the need to interject your own "wit" every few minutes, or get up to get another beer every half hour?

I spent a good bit of money to go see one of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia, at the Warner Theater in DC last night.  DC folk think that since I come from the Eastern Shore, I must be some sort of Podunk redneck that can't handle the city life.  The rednecks on the Shore put the mouth breathers in DC to shame in the manners department.  I should have been wary when the line at every beer stand was at least thirty people deep.  I should have been more wary that doors opened at 7PM, the show started at 8PM, and at 8:10 people were still filing in, talking loudly, and dicking around. 

The opening act had to deal with more and more people wandering in to find their seats.  There was a large sign at the entrance telling people that if they arrived late, they would not be allowed to sit until a set break time.  The Warner Theater staff decided that they must have been drunk themselves when they posted that, because repeatedly ushers with flashlights kept ringing people in all the way through the opening act. 

Finally, Birbiglia took the stage, and people still hadn't all taken their seats.  To his credit, he was quick to point this out.  "Well, I was here on time" he intoned to the people in the front row showing up 15 minutes into the set.  He then would stop his act whenever anyone was coming down the aisle and sarcastically thank them for coming to the show. 

This wasn't enough for the crowd though.  Trying to ruin the night of one of the most genial comics around suddenly became the united goal of the crowd.  Three rows behind me, a drunken frat troll from UMD began screaming "MIKE BIRBIGLIA" anytime there was silence.  Apparently , this cretin's $40,000 a year college experience failed to help him understand that comedy is a fragile thing that depends largely upon timing and delivery.  When both of those are interrupted by a backwards hat wearing pillow humper, it ruins the experience for everyone.  Birbiglia pointed out how ludicrous it was that this pillar of academia could think of no better heckle than the scream his name, and the grunting dillweed drunkenly murmured in self satisfaction for a few minutes.  He grew listless being out of the spotlight soon, and started yelling again.  Wisely, Birbiglia started to ignore him.  Frantic that his newfound fame was slipping away, the drunken crapweasel pleadingly degenerated his yell, until it was almost unintelligible.  By the end of the set, he was screaming "Mym Berblglera", most likely while high fiving the other members of his high school lacrosse team that he brought with him.

Next, a woman's cell phone went off.  Rather than quickly mute the call, she thought it was best to answer it, then loudly exclaim, "Hey!  I'm at a comedy show!" for all to hear, because nothing else had been nearly ludicrously ignorant enough up to this point.   

The final straw of the night came because of the ignorance of the venue itself.  As I stated, they were selling beer.  Ok, fine.  Let the asshats get drunk.  Problem is, they were selling very large glass bottle of beer.  Anyone ever loosely associated with something I can "rational thought" might realize that giving out glass bottles to an event that is largely based around hundreds of people being able to hear what one person was saying might be a bad idea.  Time after time, someone would stand up to go buy another beer in the middle of the set, and they would end up kicking their empty bottle.  It would spend roughly the next six minutes and thirteen seconds rolling down the aisle, pinging and clicking on everything it passed.  After the fifteenth time this happened, Mike simply lay down on the stage, wishing himself away to a place where people have even a modicum of social grace or respect. 

Bottom line is, Mike Birbiglia has never gone down to the Dairy Queen and screamed "DILLY BAR" at you until he was hoarse.  He has never gone to the Hooters your mother works at and completely ignored her while she tried to tell him what the specials are, and he has not banged pots and pans while you try to check people out at Walmart.  That being said, why would you go to the place where he works and be an ignorant fool?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear Betty Rucker

 I barely remember what you look like, except that you were impossibly short and small and that you would never answer the telephone.  That doesn't tend to work well for sales people.  You probably worked with me for about two months, which was just long for them to order you a giant box of business cards which sat on your old desk for quite some time in your absence. 

I found myself at that desk for some mundane reason one day, whether to update the computer or steal a stapler.  What I found was a giant box of business cards for a woman I never particularly liked.  Those cards instantly became mine.  For what, you may ask, did I need business cards with the words "Betty Rucker, Sales Manager" on them?  I get bored easily, for one and also, madam, to make it rain. 

Every coworker I passed would get a hearty handshake, and in that handshake would be a card.  I'd use my deepest voice and tell them, "Hey there, Betty Rucker, good to meet you."  "Hey, Betty Rucker, how's it hangin?"  "Yo soy Betty Rucker.  Necessito un tortuga mas grande."

Betty Rucker was entered into every business card giveway in every fishbowl in every restaurant in the county.  You should thank me, because you've probably eaten like a queen thanks to me.  I scratched out the company logo and contact into so the cards just read "Betty Rucker, Sales Manager" as if you managed all the sales of everything.  Those cards were left everywhere.  People who shopped at a particular Barnes and Noble would find them in their the copies of "50 Shades of Gray" they kept hidden from their families.  Every copy of "Civil War Enthusiast" carried your card as an insert.  They were left in pairs of shoes at Nordstroms, in the pocket of chinos at Old Navy, and I even donated a dollar to charity so I could tape one to a sunny cloud at Rita's Water Ice. 

I'd like to say you had done something in particular to make me single you out, but the cards were there, and you were not.  So, it happened, and I really hope you've seen one.