Tag Archives: humanity

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.

MY DAYS WERE NUMBERED AT TECHNICOLOR – CIRCA 1994

It’s physiologically staggering how much I detest most of the employees here.

One big dysfunctional family.

Alcoholics, gamblers, drug addicts sex addicts these are obvious. 

I’m sure there are also plenty of wife beaters, masters of molestation, pedophiles and judging by where some of these hicks live—bestiality. 

I hang in because the money is good. Bad move. Bad idea.

That rationale, that saying, “Well, at least the money is good…” America.

The phrase that pays. The Lie. The justification of lost passion, of the soul’s complacency, the collapse into a false sense of security and an even more false sense of self.

Speaking of delusion, working here does give me the delusional sense of being an intellectual… because the intelligentsia is so stiflingly low.

One of the bosses told me that he would “break both my fucking arms and legs” if I pressed a power button on a broken machine.

HE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE COSMO SPACELY FROM THE JETSONS.

Not the least bit intimidated, I glared at the diminutive little man and I laughed. I could crush his windpipe in one fell swoop. I already had it telegraphed in my head.

 The money is good. But how far does that ever take me?

When your soul and spirit is broken, waded up like a Milky Way wrapper, and thrown to a needy corporate dungeon of chemical death, it makes you wonder, what the fuck am I doing here? Or anywhere?

Everyone in the Positive Developing department has a glazed look and is stupefied from watching monitors of the same 35 mm film going backward on a high-speed developing machine at 500 frames a minute for 12-hour shifts. This was the process of film, before digital.

Most people here break the monotony by drinking, gambling, doing drugs into oblivious states of delusional ultra temporary contentment. 

Or… they eat and eat and eat…to fill the senseless void of an unaccomplished, and molested life. 

Me: I’m terrifyingly sober. Dry as Death Valley in July. 

I read, write, exercise and get laid if I’m lucky. Sometimes I obsess on all the above that I can’t do—gamble, drugs, drink. Wait, murder? 

Even though this freedom sucks it’s better than jail, (more morbidly senseless justification for staying stuck in this chemical hell with toxic people).

There really is no glamour in Hollywood.

But based on the that there is, well this would be the least glamorous of film industry jobs. 

No fucking doubt.

My worth in the eyes of management is contingent on just how many hours of overtime I’m willing to work, but I have a modicum of self-esteem, self-care, and self-worth so I frequently refuse the OT request. 

So in their eyes, I’m a worthless piece of liberal shit and I have even been told so.

And (again) it’s rammed into my consciousness that Hollywood is filled with wolves parading around in liberal wardrobe.

The job, this existence, It’s an amazing concept that a job could be somebody’s whole life, somebody’s identity. 

More Americana that’s as shallow as a bird bath. Like a Junkie math equation. Good paying job = good life

The job collapses.  They collapse.

These gears here are oiled so well that word of layoff, fiber optics, digital anything that would threaten the weak foundation of their existence sends them scurrying in a panic, like roaches running from a homemade aerosol & Bic lighter flamethrower.

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Confessions of a problem child

 

I burned down the backyard

And just stood there

Transfixed by the flames

I  pissed on my parent’s artwork while standing on their antique chair

I stole my best friends prized matchbox set

I crept into my mother’s and father’s room while they slept

I stole all they’re money and their car

Then drove to Mexico in a blackout

I told the 8th-grade teacher to shove that bullshit history book up her ass

I got a referral to the principal and was swatted in the ass with plexiglass for questioning patriotism and history and an imposed system of ignorance

I carried a loaded gun because they were coming

And then when they came I realized I forgot the gun

I was on a72-hour psyche hold in 4 point restraints and shot full of Haldol. Swore I’d never be there again, and I was there again and again

I was busted with possession of drugs and paraphernalia and sat in jail, and couldn’t wait to get out and not even have a clue I  was going to do it again. Over and over again

I’ve been angry, homeless walking the streets in Anytown, USA.

Totally convinced, truly believing, it was everybody else’s fault

I  walked the streets until my feet had blood blisters, but never left a square block radius

I broke into so many apartments in the complex I lived in that I could only leave the apartment at night out of sheer paranoia

I drank and drove so drunk that I had to cover an eye to stop seeing double, again, and again and again

I’ve heard at least 2 dozen people say they’ll never drink or use again

Then just hours, days, weeks, months, or years later, they overdose or drink themselves to death

I looked loved ones in the eyes and promised something, and just knew deep down I was going to break their fucking heart

 

From What We Can Gather

Well, from what we can gather
It all doesn’t matter
Whether it’s Dan Rather or senseless spatter
Or even some popular banter from The Doppler’s antler 
It’s best to detract and distract from the gathered gunk
Or please feel free to shuffle along in the mud of the media’s mundane mediocrity…
WAIT!
THIS JUST IN:
Stifling facts and news from yet another set of shiny shoes
Bound to another story of agony and blues
Or… some celebrity paying their soul-sucking dues
*Side note – I got love in my heart but hate in my brains
This combination keeps me drowning in a sea of delusional flames
More news at eleven… oh you can’t wait, say you?
We got an app for that…
It will do just this –
Main Line that info right into your dome
It sets up shop and calls your Pineal gland home
Just think, it’ll be like the fall of Rome
Only you’ll never have to leave the comfort of your home or your head
Because, Because, Because, Because, Because!
Because of the wonderful things “IT” (insert Mass Distraction™ here) Does
Not just a ‘Film at Eleven’ we’re Talking 24/7
A plethora of info for you to sing and dance with The Stars to… a Dramedy of sorts
We even got the mundane, the shorts, the sports, the sordid underbelly of all that won’t make it to the Telly, because after all…
Who loves ya’ baby?

Intro to yours truly.

You would think after getting shot at on the 405 freeway back in the mid-1990’s (for flipping somebody off) that It wouldn’t happen again, or more importantly just chill out on the road in general, I’d be Zen-like.

 

Nope, wait. Before I get into the next “the second time I got shot at” story, that occurred on the 10 freeway, I’ll elaborate. It’s a “hot as fish grease” day,  August 1994. I’m making my way over the Sepulveda pass to The West Side. I had just left my Mother’s condominium in Van Nuys. As I was leaving she stated, “well, should be a breeze at this hour, but you never know.”

I’m in a Jeep Wrangler ‘soft top’ no air conditioning, the top is up. Traffic is moving at about 7 miles an hour in fits and starts. I’m light-headed and nauseous from the amount of exhaust I’m breathing via the windless baking heat. I feel like I’m in a Glad sandwich bag or a rolling greenhouse. The Jeep seats are plastic, the top is canvas and the windows are plastic.

In my haste to ‘get on the road’ I neglected to zip off the back and side windows, and although the front is zipped down I’m not getting any relief. This is not ‘a breeze.’ I started going into deep morbid reflection about the Jeep purchase. The main thought was; a year and a half later and $12,000 in payments to go I felt like a sucker, an absolute dupe, a patsy. Glendale Jeep got me good. They saw me coming.

I sat for 7 hours bargaining and negotiating for this ‘utility’ vehicle that already had three recalls. I maxed out three credit cards as a down payment for this rolling memory of constant financial remorse. It haunted me frequently. As all this was turning in my head like sneakers in a dryer, a Toyota Celica cuts into ‘my’ lane and I stop short, almost hitting the left rear quarter panel. The bumper of his car has a plethora of 12 step bumper stickers, “easy does it, clean and crazy, let go and let god, one day at a time, my other car is up my nose,’ and of course the car has no license plate.

I honk, he immediately puts his left finger out the window and shakes it. That’s always a strong move, you cut me off, then flip me off. You do it with real authority, with a shake like you would a fist, but with ‘the bird.’ I had been listening to Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” my self-pity quickly turned to homicidal rage. I turned off the music, ‘Fuck you piece of shit!’ I yelled.

His tinted windows were all rolled up, he was sitting in the cool composed comfort of air conditioning, looking for someone else to impede on. I pulled into the right lane and got up next to him. I was quickly making hand gestures for him to roll down his window. He rolled down his window, he was wearing a suit and tie, I imagined he sold cars or worked in telemarketing sales. “Hey asshole, don’t fucking cut me off, then you flip me off like it’s my fault, you piece of shit, and what’s up with all those stupid bumper stickers?” We sat and made eye contact for a moment. “So what are you going to do?” He asked blankly. Fuck this guy. “Pull over ‘Mr. clean and crazy’ and I’ll give you a beatin’ you won’t forget.”

He put the car in park and slowly reached over to the glove box, my intuition quickly told me he had a piece. He pulled it out, it looked similar to the .380 I had at home, which I wished I had now. I quickly zipped up my jeep window, huh?

I saw him pull back the slide and jack around with his left hand. Then he lay against the passenger seat. Expressionless, he leveled the gun right at my face. Quickly, I sat back in my seat as hard as I could. Am I going to die? Here? Now? I heard the .380’s report and immediately smelled the cordite. I had been shot at before but had never been at this much of a disadvantage. Visual assessment. I wasn’t shot! I saw a small bullet hole in the plastic jeep window and was strangely grateful that I had zipped it up.

Cars were honking and there was a 5 or 6 car gap in front of him, so I quickly cut over and floored it, I went into the emergency lane and drove like, well, like I had just been shot at. I looked in my rearview, he wasn’t pursuing and I got off at Sunset and headed west. I pulled over. I balled my fists and pounded on the steering wheel and went into a Tourette like rage, “You motherfucker! You column of human waste, scumbag, dope fiend, alcoholic piece of shit!” I finally stopped. Most of those insults were truly things I also felt about myself at one time or another. I took a breath. I chilled.

I thought about the fact that I had nowhere to rush to, I had no job, and I had almost got myself killed over a patch of road. I continued to drive like an asshole even with the bullet hole through the plastic window. I’m hard-headed, I’m a little insane. I don’t learn lessons from these experiences and then just act right. There is no need to tell the other story. I’ve mellowed out a little,  except for following a guy to Starbuck’s and beating him down. That felt justified. So, I’m on the Glendale freeway going north. In fast-moving traffic, a grey Mercedes-Benz gets in front of me and slams on the brakes. My old dog Roscoe flies against the dashboard with a loud yelp. I’m enraged and mystified all at once. Did I do something to this guy? Did I cut him off earlier? He’s laughing and holding his middle finger out the window, his arm accompanied by a horrible silvery green, cable-knit sweater. His license reads BADAZMB. The freeway divides. I’m going west, he’s going east, but I can also see he’s signaling to getting off at the next exit.

I know the exit. There is a Starbuck’s, Noah’s Bagels some other little retail stores and a theater. I get off the next exit and double back. I have a strong feeling he is at (or going) to Starbuck’s. I drive and park my car in a shaded corner and slowly slink around the parking lot. I see his car BADAZMB. I walk up to it look around, nobody is watching. I key the fuck out of it, both sides all the way across, “This is for disturbing my dog Roscoe.” I turn to go back to my car, I can’t. I turn around and walk to the Starbuck’s, I go in. Steely Dan’s ‘Babylon Sister’ is playing. I look around, I see him and his bad sweater in the corner. He is on his computer.  Maybe he is writing about me? I look around again, no cops but a lot of people of all ages. I walk up to him. Stand over him on his right side. He looks at me, he has NO IDEA WHO I AM.

He Just did all that bullshit and has no clue. “Can I help you?” I look out the window and point to his car. “Is that your Mercedes?” He looks out the window. “Yes. Why what’s up… Just then I grab him with my left, hold him down in his chair as I pummel him with my right fist. Five quick shots to the right side of his cheek/chin area. At the same time I’m saying, “YOU MOTHERFUCKER, THIS WILL TEACH YOU TO STOP SHORT IN FRONT OF SOMEONE ON THE FREEWAY FOR NO REASON!” He’s screaming, ‘I’m sorry! I’m SORRY!’ Very quickly people start leaving the store. “We’re calling the cops,” I hear a voice yell at me, So I turn and say ‘Alright I’m leaving.’ I walk out. Now I’m paranoid, was all that on camera? Am I gonna go to jail? For days after I feel horrible, scared, and have an emotional hangover that reminds me of how quickly violent I can turn. Since then I’ve learned to seriously pause or pull over when I feel it surfacing. It takes serious vigilance. This is a reminder. I will lose my freedom if I let some shit stain rock my game.