Tag Archives: Hollywood

My days at the London Hotel were numbered. Essay #1

#2:00 AM London Hotel, West Hollywood.

I was walking the halls collecting trays, and picking up early morning orders left on doorknobs. As I made my way from floor to floor, I pondered all the decisions and wrong turns and I made in my life. Disastrous turns that led me up to my current position at 50 years old.

Sure, there were drug and alcohol incidents here and there, also some jail stints. There was also first-degree burglary, grand theft auto, possession of controlled substance as well as assault with a deadly weapons charges but all that was many years ago.

When I applied for this job, Jill Myers in human resources said The London was to do an intensive background check. Apparently, it wasn’t that intensive.

Truth be told, I lost all my hustle when I sobered up and I stopped doing hard drugs. Thank baby Christ I’m not permanently psychotic or paranoid. These thoughts were broken by a woman in a nightgown running and screaming coming down the hall straight towards me.

‘I left my key in my room, I left my key in my room! She looked distraught and flustered. At first, I thought she was dead on the reincarnation of Leona Helmsley, or the ghost of Leona Helmsley stuck in a Hell-like hotel purgatory.

Was it Leona? At 2 AM your mind really plays tricks with you. Think the Overlook Hotel but I’m way more passive Mr. Torrance.

‘Okay okay, ma’am. Ma’am, what is your name?’ This was the protocol. Simple enough.

‘What the hell does that have to do with it! Just let me into my room! That’s private information anyway!’ She seemed to be moving closer toward me. I started stepping backward.

‘Ma’am, I’m sorry I just can’t let anybody into any room without proper identification.’

Her eyes lit up, ‘Anybody, anybody? Into any room? I’m Sofia De Aragon and I’ve been staying at this hotel on and off since it was The Belage! How dare you!’

A door in front of us opened and a guest popped his head out. He took one look at Mrs. De Aragon and quickly went back to his room and shut the door.

‘That’s right! You mind your business!’ Sofia said as he bolted the door.

Suddenly I felt like a scolded eight-year-old. ‘Okay okay, I’m sorry. What room are you in? ‘Well that’s just it, I don’t know what room I’m in. They used to put the room numbers on the key, how the hell are you supposed to remember what goddamn room you’re in?’

‘Well, I guess we’ll have to call the front desk.’

She looked angry, ‘Well where is that god damn phone to even call them? We’re on the eighth floor! Do I have to run downstairs?’

I started moving towards the lobby of the eighth floor, I knew there was a phone there. I had to get away from this woman. I felt like she had stuck an invisible straw into my chest and was sucking the very last bit of life that was left in me. It had to stop. I picked up the phone. ‘Hi it’s Mike, In-room-dining attendant, I have a Mrs….’ I looked up at her, ‘Ma’am your name?’ She shook her head and whispered, ‘give me the phone, give me the phone.’

I attempted to walk away. Let them come up and let her into her room, or figure out what room she’s in. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

‘Hey where are you going? I’m in room 416 you need to let me in.’ We were both on the 8th floor. I don’t even know how she ended up on this floor. You need a room key to use the guest elevator to go from floor to floor. Which I don’t even have. And I was told under no circumstances were guest allowed to use the service elevator. I walked towards the phone called the front desk again. I hung up. Then I explained the situation to her and that she would have to wait here while somebody came up from the front desk.

She was flustered and upset ‘Why can’t you just let me in?’

‘Ma’am if you don’t have your room key we can’t get down the elevator to your floor, I don’t have access to that elevator with the key that I have.’ We both stood there looking at each other for a moment, but it felt like an eternity.

‘Well that’s absurd, what kind of bullshit operation are they running here?’ I walked away. She was saying things to me as I was walking away. They can fire me, they can discipline me, they can do whatever they want. Bottom line, I was not talking or looking at this woman for another fucking minute.

Hollywood Shit Show.

Due to complete financial need and desperation, I’ve been an extra on a couple of different television programs, commercials, and reality shows. You get paid to sit around and wait to be herded to set or location…

It can be up to $300.00 a day, or it can be minimum wage. This particular day it was minimum wage, I was to be an extra on the Tim Allen show. From the moment I drove through the gates at CBS Radford my stomach started to turn, and I felt an incredible amount of anxiety and fear. It was the same way I imagined ‘Damien’ from “The Omen” must have felt as he got closer to church.

I was given a parking pass and told to park on the 6th floor visitor parking garage, then to walk to soundstage #9. Sounds easy enough. It was 9:00 AM and already eighty degrees and I was wearing a black wool suit. I parked, and started leisurely walking to the elevator, I heard footsteps running up behind me at a fast clip. “Are you an extra on the Tim Allen show?” she asked me frantically. “Yes,” I said. “Oh My God! We are so late!” I push the elevator button. “What? The call time said 9:30. It’s 9:05.” She whirled past me garment and duffel bag in tow and started running down the stairs, “You didn’t get the e-mail? The call time changed to 8:45!” I hate being late.

I started running down the stairs behind her, “What e-mail? When was that sent?” She was already down a couple of flights of stairs. “This morning, at like 8:15.” she screamed. I started running down the stairs behind her in my wool suit and dress shoes. I had a vision of slipping and falling down the stairs and how that would look in an obit, “He was to be an extra on the Tim Allen Show. Unfortunately lost his footing and tumbled downstairs. He broke his neck and died instantly.” I slowed my roll I wasn’t going to kill myself to get to a soundstage for minimum wage, plus my feet already hurt in the dress shoes I was sporting for the big occasion.

As I walked at a fast clip down the last flight of stairs I saw that she was already 100 feet ahead of me, she looked back and said, “you better hurry up, they close that stage door and the red light goes on we don’t get paid, we are fucked! No money!” she screamed as she ran past a group of truck drivers sitting around on a tailgate lift eating donuts and drinking coffee, reinforcing and reppin’ the teamster stereotype. They laughed out loud at her. I ran behind her I already felt like a douchebag, I didn’t need validation from the Teamsters. I looked up, I was passing stage 3, I had six more stages to get to, it was nowhere in sight, it was easily a quarter-mile from where I was, I walked at a fast clip. I was sweating, my feet hurt, and I felt a rash starting in my crotch from the wool trousers.

I cursed myself and started focusing on all the bad life choices that brought me to this moment as I ran past stage 6. Now I was sweating profusely and pissed off. I gave up and started walking very slowly, “Fuck it.” I yelled aloud, which received a high sign from an executive walking by. I got to the soundstage, a woman greeted me with, “I’m Elizabeth. The production manager. Didn’t you get the second fucking e-mail? You’re late!’ I walked past her leisurely and through the door. “Go wait with the other background players, first room on your left!” I walked into the room.

It was hot and jam-packed with extras. The lucky ones were seated in those old grammar school style desks, others sat on the linoleum floor, even more leaned up against the wall. All waiting. The ‘craft services’ table was an absolute abomination. It consisted of paper bowls of Doritos, mini boxes of Milk Duds, and Good and Plenty, and old brown bananas and played out apples. It also featured Mexican candies and Mexican baked goods, I guess that was for our Latin background friends. The production manager popped her head through the door, “settle in kids Mr. Allen is running 2 hours late.”    “Cool man. Overtime,” a guy next to me said. I made my way to the craft service table and grabbed a handful of Doritos and a couple of boxes of Milk Duds. “Fuck it,” I said again under my breath.