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More London Hotel Insanity

If you’re sick like just sniffly, well, the only reason why we care is that we don’t want to be around you. If you constantly verbalize your cold, flu, or allergies it’s really mundane and boring. Americans have some form of healthcare now! At this point in our current international climate, your little cold or allergies are whiny 1st world bullshit. No one truly gives a rats ass. And if they (the sick people enablers) cater and constantly kowtow to that shit, the little sickies are gonna’ leech on to that codependency and ride it into their golden years. I’ve seen it!

Anyway, so I deliver to a guy who orders quite frequently. This guy always has some story about his health. Mr. Harmon in 511. He has a different boy toy in the room every time I deliver an order. Most of them look like Santa Monica street hustlers. With their little backpacks and plastic bags of clothes and shit sitting on the couch.

Tonight’s delivery interaction;
I knock on the door. It opens, its dark, and smells like cheap stripper strawberry incense or oil.
‘How you doing Mr. Harmon?’
He’s about 6’2″ and really pale and bloated. He looks like Larry Bird’s estranged brother. And has an eerie fucking vibe to boot.
He throws his hands in the air theatrically.
‘Oh God, no Bueno! I think I caught a bad cold, Ramon is going to get me Theraflu.’ Ramon is grabbing his jacket and rushing out into the cold night.
‘I’m sure the concierge has it.’ I say.
‘No, Ramon loves to walk the streets. He’s been doing that for years.’ He turns on the light, I wish he hadn’t.

‘Listen I have this weird thing with my eyes, they keep going back-and-forth.’ He’s pointing at his eyes. ‘Have you ever had that?’ He’s moving his index finger back-and-forth between both eyes. I’m standing there watching this charade. Why oh why the fuck do I have to get a play-by-play of your present status Harmon? ‘We’ll have you?’ He asks again. ‘No Mr. Harmon. I’ve never had that.’
‘Hmm, yeah it’s a pretty unique thing. Well, the doctor gave me some promethazine, but I already took four Norco so I might not be good to mix them.’ Those were drugs that I used to use quite frequently, sick or not. ‘What would you do?’
Harmon asks. At this point, I’m in total ‘who gives a fuck’ mode. So I’m like, ‘Yeah go ahead and guzzle down the promethazine. You’ll get real drowsy and nod off, and then maybe your eyeballs will stop moving back-and-forth.’ He runs into the other room, ‘Hold on hold on,’ he says. Oh no, I just want to get the fuck out of here.

‘Mr. Harmon can you please sign the check?’
He comes running back with two small packages. ‘My housekeeper gave me these the other day. She gets them from some little bodega botanica place in East Los Angeles. They’re Mexican bath salts. Maybe these will help me.’
It’s probably not a good idea to drink the promethazine and then take the bath, right?’
‘Well unless never want to wake up.’ Which sounds like a great idea for either one of us at this point. ‘Ha ha ha. That’s funny.’ He signs and hands me back the bill. Well ‘pray for me by name!’ He says in a show tune like voice. I finally leave. I look in the checkbook, no tip. I feel like my spirit has been run over by a Stolen Cadillac Escalade.

Same night, two hours later. Simple order.
I’m delivering chamomile tea to a Mrs. Gordon, room 319. I’m taxed and tired.
I just want it to be over. Let this night be done. I knock.
‘Room service.’ No answer I lean in, I hear somebody scurrying around. I knock again. No answer, again I hear scurrying around. I knock louder. Still nothing.
‘ROOM SERVICE.’ Nothing. Jesus what the fuck. I kick the bottom of the door three times. ‘ROOM SERVICE!!’
‘Oh ok. Of course.’ I hear a droll voice say.

A frumpy depressed looking blonde 20 something opens the door. My intuition tells me another mundane, soul-sucking situation lies in my wake.
‘Just put the tray on the bed. Listen, I’m concerned. My sliding glass patio door won’t lock properly. Maybe you can take a look.’ I hand her the bill. She puts it down without signing it. That’s always a bad sign. I walk over to the door. It latches. No fuss no muss.
‘It’s fine ma’am.’ I walk towards the bill.

She looks over at the checkbook. ‘I finished a production job early, and I’m here for a couple of days. I’m so bored. What should I do? Don’t say the movies, Universal Studios or Disneyland. Those are stupid suggestions. I already got mad at the bellman for suggesting all that garbage.’ Her voice is high pitched like lee press on nails on a chalkboard, or metal patio furniture being pulled across concrete. I offer up museums, and exhibits, coffee houses, and quaint little hipster neighborhoods.

‘Boring. Boring.’ She says. ‘I need some action!’
‘Maybe go pick up an LA Weekly. You’ll find the back pages loaded with all kinds of activity.’
Her eyes lit up. ‘What are you talking about? Sex, S and M, sex clubs, prostitutes?’
That’s not what I’m talking about. God.’
I looked over at the bill, and made my way to the door. She signs it and is shaking her head.
‘I was talking about music venues, nightclubs, dance clubs. But hey, whatever.’ She growls at me and hands me the bill. I walk out. I’m done for the night. I’d rather fill catsup bottles or do some other form of side work then deal with these people. Just for tonight, I need to get my mojo back.

 

NIGHT SHIFTINESS

I’m not a morning person, or an afternoon person. Actually I’m not an any time of the day, or night person. I’m curmudgeonly and I’m jaded. I grew up in L.A. Whaddya want from me? It takes roughly 2 to 3 hours to muster a mild amount of patience and tolerance for me to even leave the house. I can get up and go if there’s a fire, a flood, or an earthquake, and even then it’s with some misgivings.

This is a qualifier for why I prefer to work swing or graveyard shifts. In most cases, these shifts attract a bizarre, creepy, and just plain odd individuals. I fit into all three of those categories. Let’s talk about the staff. The names have been changed, to protect me from these fucking lunatics.

Gerardo is the dedicated overnight man. He’s been doing room service for over 19 years. A pint-sized Filipino, with a mild speech impediment. He comes in at 11:30 every night and says the same thing, ‘Wush up, wush up, wush up?’ (What’s up). He never listens to or doesn’t care what the reply is. His next line is, ‘Ah, wuz bishee?’ (was it busy)? Again, he doesn’t care about the answer. Occasionally he will answer, ‘Oh is shat sho?’ (Oh, is that so) Gerardo’s sole purpose on an evening-to-evening basis is to get out of doing any sort of side work. I understand that it sucks, but it has to be done. But he is notorious for this, as even other employees have experienced.

There’s always side work, polishing silverware, restocking condiments and sodas, cutting butter, lemons, and limes pre-setting trays for deliveries, there is always things to fucking  do. But the truth is Gerardo has been here way too long and tries to delegate these jobs to me.

He says passive /aggressive things like, ‘Um can you focush on the silverwaresh?’ (Polish silverware, this seems to be something that he never wants to do.) ‘Run de florsh’ (go check the floors to see if there are any dirty trays, or morning breakfast orders hung on the door). I usually say the same thing every time he asks, ‘Your not my boss, I already did that’ or, ‘Gerardo you’re going to have to do some side work, there’s no way out of it.’

I mean, I come in at 5:30 and have been working my ass off. He just got there and he doesn’t want to do anything. I put him in check quickly, and if that doesn’t work, I just don’t do the side work and tell the supervisor he ain’t doing shit. They already know this though, and they do NOTHING.

One night I was coming off the elevator and heard him talking LONG shit about me to the chef, Julio. Something about ‘not doing my shares’. He doesn’t really wants shtoo be here, he wants shtoo write, we needs peoples thats are dedicated.’ I stood behind him and started laughing uncontrollably. Laughing like DeNiro playing Max Cady in Cape Fear. Julio walked away. Gerardo turned and looked at me with horror in his eyes. He walked away punching into the air. I didn’t care. I said to him, ‘So check this out Gerardo, you got something to say, say it to me, or talk to management Julio ain’t gonna help you.’ He immediately lied, ‘Oh no, we jush talking about 86’d itemsh, foods we ran out ofsh.’ I put him in check continually, but he forgets. Sometimes when it gets really busy, he walks in circles and tosses his hands in the air like a malfunctioning robot. He also freaks out if there are more than two orders. Some nights I’ve done 30 orders before even gets there, so I realize the silliness of this fear immediately. He also repeats himself constantly and loves top forty music. I listen to him drone on about “Taylor Shwifts, Maroons Fives and Iggyes Azaleas.’ By the time I leave at two AM, I seriously feel like I’ve been on a 72-hour hold in a psyche  ward. It’s a wonder I stay sober or sane.

Now let me tell you about Julio, the night Chef. A rotund 68-year-old Columbian man with a deep voice, an accent, a shady past and a limp. Julio comes in and depending on his mood will 86 (cancel) anything on the menu that he doesn’t feel like making. This he tells us after the guest has already called in the order. We have to call them back and say we are out of said item. Then he changes his mind and decides to make it. So you call the guest back again and say, ‘oh my mistake turns out we have it.’ This happens 2 or 3 nights a week and it’s so fucking maddening you want to throw hot grease on him or spray oven cleaner in his eyes! I swear to god it’s like working with your God Damn grandparents!

One night while I was waiting for Julio to prepare an order, he told me he was the private Chef for Pablo Escobar. He said that Pablo was an incredibly generous man, with a big heart, who really tried to help people. (I’m sure there are many folks that said the same thing about Hitler). He said cooking for the children’s birthday parties was always a fun time. Even though the kids were fat little-spoiled assholes. Once while preparing a dinner for the family, little Manuela Escobar was screaming and crying because the pony she got for Christmas had no wings, ‘she wanted a pony with wings,’ Julio pleaded. I laughed. Then Julio turned dark. ‘Months later at her birthday party, a man walked in with a pony that had wings.’ He went on to say that Pablo had the wings taken off an eagle and surgically implanted on the horse. To which Julio replied, ‘But you know, nature doesn’t play that game and three days later the pony died.’ I stood there aghast. he looked at me and grinned. “Oh, here, your chicken quesadilla for room 219 is ready.’

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.