Empty Hotel

This is a very weirdass time to have started my career in the hotel business.

There’s no way y’all haven’t heard about the coronavirus and the havoc it’s wreaking with…with just about everything.   Baseball’s interrupted spring training and postponed the start of the season.   That came as a big shock to me when it happened…and you gotta wonder what it feels like to be a player and be sent home from spring training two weeks before the season is slated to start.   First you get all excited…and then you have to get unexcited.   I’m not totally lameass:   I understand the need for precautions, but we’ve totally turned our society inside-out overnight.

So the banning of public gatherings means the cancelling of conventions and big meetings…which means the cancellation of travel plans…which means the cancellation of hotel reservations.   Most companies have even cut down on ‘non-essential travel’, which means even more cancellations for us.   Don’t even expect people to go on vacations…and then think how people are afraid of getting into airplanes, which really are germ incubators, and, if people won’t get on airplanes, they’re not going to get off airplanes and need hotels when they get to their destinations.

Any of these ways spells trouble for the industry I just started working in.   And, although the L****** isn’t totally empty, anyone can feel that the hotel is way less full than normal.   There are less people in the lobby, less calls to the front desk….less everything.   That makes it real boring for us, since we go hours with nothing happening and most of the work behind the scenes is updating our inventory of rooms based on the cancellations we keep receiving.

I gotta admit this is making me nervous about my new job:   last hired, first fired is the rule, although Mr. Balsam called a meeting of all the employees and assured us that no one was getting fired or even laid off.   That’s even if the government doesn’t pass that bill about paid sick leave for people during the crisis.   (On the other hand, he faked his way through not answering a question about maybe having hours cut back if things get much worse.)

Most everybody felt better after the meeting, but a the new hires like me were still worried some.   I think some of that got back to Mr. Balsam, since, the next day, there was a message for me telling me to report to his office.   Of course I thought the worst, but, in reality, he’d just sent for the new hires to reassure all of us that our jobs were safe. He’s trying real hard to keep it all business as usual.

I’m (obviously) not allowed to report just what percent of capacity we’re at, and what percent we expect to be at in the next couple of weeks, but I am allowed to say it’s not 100%.  Not even close.   And it’s getting lower by the hour.   We literally are getting cancellations that often, and sometimes even more often than that.   It’s scary in terms of my job and it’s spooky in terms of a deserted hotel.   The restaurant is closed as of Monday, although I don’t see what was wrong with seating people at every other table.   At least the waiters and busboys got some tips that way.   Now, they’re pretty much fucked.

I can understand why they closed Disneyland and Disney World.   There was a big deal when there was a measles outbreak that they traced to Disneyland a few years ago, and, let’s face it, all those kids spread germs like wildfire.   Travis has an annual pass and loves the place, but even he jokes that everything there has a ‘light coating of boogers’ lol.   But that also makes you think about all the people who work there and what’s happening to their jobs.   I also worry about all the people who were getting ready to sell Dodger Dogs to 56,000 people a night

And don’t forget the people who work at the front desks of luxury hotels.

I mean, I know that the coronavirus is dangerous and obviously no one wants it spreading, but there are a lot of people who work in the hospitality industry who have families to feed.   When they talk on the TV about paid leave for people, they’re talking about people who are sick and can’t go to work…not about people who are well and want to go to work but can’t.   That would cost the government way too much money at this point, and so it just ain’t happening.

If there’s a bright side (and there really isn’t), it’s that I’m getting to see a lot more of how the hotel works because I’m not exactly nailed to the front desk being super busy.   I’ve been getting shown the ropes by a lot of departments. I don’t know that front desk clerks usually get to shadow the housekeepers, but that’s what I did earlier this week.   I put in a couple days on room service duty too – from setting up the tables to wheeling them upstairs to picking them up again, although there weren’t so many orders that we were kept too busy or that I got to see a whole lot.

I put in time over with the concierge as well.   That looks like it could be an interesting job, although, again, I didn’t get to see too much of Ian in action.   Ian’s British, pretty gay, kinda snooty until you get to know him, around 45, 5’9” and 160, straight blond hair and pale blue eyes.   The cool thing about him is that he seems to knows how to get everything a guest could think of wanting.   There is one thing that Ian won’t get you, though:   he won’t get you a girl.   I’m sure he knows how…but the hotel has a rule about that.

I even spent some time downstairs with Craig learning about all the different uniforms.   Y’all might be surprised at how many there are.   I even got some of Craig’s story:   his ambition is to be a high-end tailor…like the kind that custom makes suits for super rich guys.   The hotel is the first step on that path for him, just like it’s the first step on a very different path for me.   We got on pretty well when we realized we had that in common.

But I gotta admit it is kinda spooky at times being in a hotel that’s as empty as ours…and that’s only gonna get emptier based on what I’ve seen in terms of cancellations.   But I guess that’s how it’s gonna be until this virus thing gets under some control and people stop panicking.   I have a feeling people are gonna start getting bored about the panic in a couple weeks and things’ll start getting a little more normal.

I’m not just worried about my new job.   Maybe it was mostly that last week, but the situation keeps changing so drastically that it’s hard to know what to think or what to do.   When I write this the latest is that the City of Los Angeles has closed all the bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms…just about anyplace people go.   It seems like the only things that’ll be open are the Kroger and Walmart (they’re shortening their hours, however), and that’s just so that the hoarders can go back and buy more toilet paper.   Pasadena’s gonna follow suit anytime now, so soon there’s not gonna be anywhere to go.   Even the Apple store is closed.   I took a look at Colorado Boulevard this morning, just to see what it was like, and it’s pretty creepy with all the stores closed.   There are still some people out (especially people who are trying to keep their small businesses running), and still some stores open…but it wasn’t like any Monday morning I’ve ever seen in Southern California.

Y’all know me:   I’m an easygoing guy and I don’t let a whole lot of shit bother me…but, I’m gonna be honest here, this is bothering me.   It’s not that I’m so scared of the coronavirus…although maybe I’m taking that for granted because I’m young and have always been healthy.   (The sickest I’ve ever been was when I got mono in college.   I had to stay in the infirmary for a while, but it was over in a couple weeks.)   What’s upsetting me is how it seems like life as I’ve known it is coming to an end.   It’s like the whole world has gone crazy…people are even making fake coronavirus tests and trying to import them into the US.   What kind of sickass shit is that?

And, speaking of sickass shit, what about the hoarders?   I’d say that they should be shot like looters…but people are hoarding ammunition too so I’m not sure what there is to shoot them with.   Buying up all the toilet paper?   That’s totally fucked up, I’m sorry.   If there is a toilet paper shortage, it’ll be because of those assholes (and their assholes lol.)   And why toilet paper?   And what are they expecting will happen?   Someone said it’s because the hoarders are afraid that everyone in the toilet paper supply chain will come down with the coronavirus and it’s because of that that there’ll be no toilet paper in the stores.   That’s just stupid.   Another explanation I got is that the people are getting ready to be quarantined in their houses.   That’s stupid, too.   We’ll have the National Guard or something delivering food and supplies to people who are quarantined.   Or maybe they’ll even send it in using drones.

And it’s like those people are looking forward to it.   They can’t wait for things to get worse or more disastrous.   Some sick fucks are probably enjoying this.   Sick drama queen fucks, I think.   Maybe because they have nothing in their lives otherwise they’re enjoying watching the whole country be taken apart piece by piece.   They’re the hoarders, and they’re probably enjoying looking at all the toilet paper they’ve bought.

Keaton told me that he was at the Kroger on Friday and he saw a dude buying 20 gallons of milk.   20 fuckin gallons of milk.   Um…dude…that shit spoils.   And how many people does he have in his house that he can use up all that milk before it goes bad?   And of course that meant that there was no milk left for anyone else to buy.

Well…almost…

There was a woman with a small child sitting in her cart who was looking for milk and started getting all upset because there wasn’t any.   Keaton was standing by and saw, and, well, y’all know Keaton.   I don’t know how he did it (he assured me he didn’t use physical force) but the net result is that the hoarding asshole only got to buy 18 gallons of milk.

It’s just all so fucked up…and there’s nothing I feel I can do about it.   Nothing much any one person can do about it.   I’ve never lived through a panic like this.   I reckon the last thing this big that upset the country was 9/11.   I was only 7 at the time, so I don’t remember too much about it.   This crisis is pretty dang disturbing to live through.   And the problem is the people, not the virus.   I get the feeling that a lot of people are overreacting some and that there’s no need to be closing everything the way they have been.   I mean…couldn’t you just have people sitting at every other table in a restaurant?

And if you give people nowhere to go they’re gonna be sitting home watching the TV and getting more upset and more panicked.   It’s a time of crisis and people need a diversion of some kind.   Otherwise…you end up feeling the way people are feeling now.

I reckon y’all think that the only author I really know is Shakespeare, but Mom was a big fan of Boccaccio’s The Decameron and used to read us stories from it.   (I know that Boccaccio might seem a bit adult for kids to hear as bedtime stories, but Mom was more intent on us hearing good literature from an early age.)   Anyway, the idea of the Decameron is that ten young Florentines leave the city for the countryside to escape the Plague that was decimating the European population.   They go to a villa and, to keep themselves entertained, they tell each other stories.   Each character tells one story for each of ten days, making a total of 100 stories.   They’re all pretty short, but my point is that, even today, people need to be entertained, even in times of crisis.   Especially in times of crisis.   Maybe the Parrots need to flee to a villa somewhere up in Altadena and tell each other stories lol.   There are 10 of us., so we’re off to a good start lol.

Oh shit…were are you gonna find a room that’s big enough to hold 10 people sitting 6’ apart from each other?   That’s gonna take a space the size of the distance between the mound and home plate lol.

Meanwhile Joyce says they’ve gone crazy where she works too.   On Thursday they started taking the 6’ ‘social distancing’ thing a little too far and rearranged all the desks.   They even broke a whole mess of people’s keyboards by trying to clean them with bleach wipes.   And they made Joyce send home one of the people she supervises because he was sneezing. That dude’s been working there for 7 years and every spring suffers from hugeass allergies.   So there was no way that his sneezing and shit were coronavirus.   But Joyce says they were practically ready to lynch the dude for having come into work.

Then she got a call Monday morning to say that they were closing the company for two weeks and that no one should come in to the office.   They said, like they did at the hotel, that they’d keep paying everyone…but, just like at the hotel, they won’t be able to keep that up forever.   No company can keep paying workers when there’s no work being done and no money coming in, especially small and medium-sized companies like the one Joyce works at.

So Joyce is staying home and ‘working’ from there, but she admits that there isn’t a whole lot of work for her to do.   They were going to do ‘teleconferencing’, but Joyce actually said that was ‘bullshit’ and never gets anything done.   Her feeling is that she’s getting a vacation…only there’s nowhere to go.   (She could come and stay at the L****** and order room service a lot.   I’ll even make sure she gets upgraded lol.)

As far as Keaton is concerned, business isn’t as usual either.   Friday and Saturday night there were way fewer people in the bar, although it was still open.   The people who did come did have more to drink, I reckon because they were so stressed out by the whole thing, so Dani and Rob didn’t do so terrible with tips.   (The policy at the Volcano is that they split a portion of their tips with the bussing dude, Keaton and Miguel, so Keaton got close to what he usually gets.)   There were a lot of jokes about how alcohol kills viruses, and Keaton says the whole place reeked of hand sanitizer, since the bosses wanted Dani and Rob to use hand sanitizer between every drink they prepared.   More than that, they wanted them to be conspicuous about using it.   That extended to Keaton and Miguel, too – and their joke was that they wouldn’t want to punch someone and give them coronavirus.   (Everyone’s making lameass jokes.   Like every time anyone sneezes or coughs, someone’s gotta make a coronavirus comment.)

Sunday at the bar was very quiet, according to Keaton.   Although Mayor Garcetti closed all the bars in LA at midnight, that didn’t apply to Pasadena, so they stayed open until 2 as usual.   Before that, though, word came that they would be closing the bar effective Monday, so all my friends who work at the Volcano are out of jobs for the duration.   Keaton and Miguel are definitely not getting paid, and, even if they keep paying Dani and Rob their salaries, those are minimum wage and they make most of their money from tips…but how do you get tips when the bar or restaurant you work at is closed??   Keaton’ll be ok, since he has money on the side and he hasn’t been living on what he makes as a security guard anyway…but I’m not so sure about Miguel.   I’m actually pretty worried about him.

At least there was a little action Sunday night, Keaton told me.   And – guess what? – Carter was involved.   No, he wasn’t pissing people off to start fights, but one of his buddies did get into a drunkass altercation with some other dude.   Keaton stopped it before anything could happen (you never know how fisticuffs can spread a virus lol), although all he got to do was throw the dude who was getting into it with Carter’s buddy out.   That’ll probably be Keaton’s last chance to get physical until…until who knows when, I guess.

See…that’s the problem.   Nobody knows when this is going to let up.   I understand they’ve managed to contain the virus in China (that’s why the only Apple stores that aren’t closing are the ones over there), and that only took a few months, I think.   But a few months of this?   Dang, we’re all going to end up going stir crazy before that’s over.   I gotta admit that I’m more worried about how life is gonna go than I am about catching the virus.   I reckon anyone can catch the virus, and that includes me, but I get the feeling that the prevention is almost worse than the disease.

Everyone else I know has been affected too.   Cody, Noah, Lucas, Eric and Abelito are all out of school for at least two weeks, which super sucks for Lucas after all that work we put into his making the baseball team.   All Luke’s classes up in Santa Barbara have been cancelled too, and he’s not sure how he’s gonna do with online classes when one of his courses is chemistry and how do you learn chemistry without going to lab?   Both Travis and Trey have similar things to say about the situation at PCC.

I heard from Svetlana:   she still can’t find a job, and is pretty sure she’s not gonna find one as long as the crisis continues.   Adam says his business is still okay…he jokes that people want nicely decorated houses when they’re quarantined.   Josh says his company is still pretty normal, and Sloppy Joe got in on a deal a buddy of his put together:   he bought like 20 pallets of masks and sold them at a hugeass markup (hugeass = 1000%) to China several weeks ago.   I feel like I should have thought of that lol.

Chuy says business is good…even with what they’ve had to spend on bleach wipes so that they ‘sanitize’ the cars they wash.   People are worried about the germs in their cars…although that kinda makes sense.   And the taco truck is doing ok too…people don’t want to go to restaurants, but they don’t want to cook all the food they’re hoarding…so the panic is good for taco trucks.

From what I know, Brookside is still open, so softball games are going on as planned, at least for the time being.   Chuy’s baseball league suspended operations two weeks ago already, maybe since they get bigger crowds than the Parrots do.   (Not that I ever said that softball was fun to watch lol.)

It’s all just super, super crazy.   And super depressing, too.   I know some people are gonna get real sick, and some are going to die, which is depressing to start with…but the way people are behaving and the way things are going is even more depressing.   Y’all probably know that I’m a pretty cheerful guy most of the time.   The way things are shaping up, you may find out what I’m like when I’m not my usual cheerful self.

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