Welcome To The Hotel Exaggeration

, , , , , | Working | June 27, 2017

(I used to work at a very prestigious five-star hotel in Central London. Naturally with the territory comes some guests who, in my experience, were impossible. This is however not that kind of story. I am currently an hour into the morning shift when my service phone rings. The call registers from the front desk.)

Me: “In-Room Dining. [My Name] speaking.”

Front Desk: “Hi, [My Name]. Can you go to [Guest Room] and help [Affluent Guest] out, please?”

(Note: Affluent Guest, as I would soon find out, was a regular at this hotel. She also established a reputation with most if not all the hotel staff as being incredibly demanding and impossible to please. This is the first time I am dealing with her.)

Me: “Sure. What is the problem, may I ask?”

Front Desk: “You know? I actually haven’t got a clue, mate. Is this your first time dealing with her?”

Me: “The guest? Yes. Yes, it’s the first time.”

Front Desk: “Okay, just to let you know she’s VERY impatient and extremely rude, so be careful, okay?”

Me: “Thanks for the heads up. I’m on my way to the room now.”

(I hang up and head up to the floor that Affluent Guest is on. On the way I cross paths with one of the housekeeping associates.)

Housekeeping Associate: “You going to [Affluent Guest]’s room?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Housekeeping Associate: *rolls eyes* “She’s craaaaazy. Don’t let her get her way!”

Me: “I won’t.”

(I’m a little bit concerned about how much of an issue this particular guest is perceived as, but for benefit of the doubt I just put it down to exaggerations on the hotel’s part. I find the room, knock, and then enter to see a frail, old Chinese lady sitting on the sofa.)

Me: “Good Morning, ma’am. My name is [My Name]; I understand you’re having some sort of issue with your room?”

Guest: “Hello, my dear. Yes, I cannot get the window to open, see? And it’s very hot in here!”

(From the moment I walked in I could feel the humidity. On this particular summer day in London, the heat was out in force.)

Me: “I see. Unfortunately, ma’am, because we are on the seventh floor, the windows are locked shut for your own safety. Have you tried your air conditioning?”

Guest: “I have, my dear. But I don’t know how to work it properly.”

Me: *starting to get a little bit concerned* “Okay… has anyone else came to the room to help you?”

Guest: “Yes, but they didn’t do as I asked. They thought I wanted to change rooms! All I want is to get the air conditioning working.”

Me: “Of course, I completely understand, ma’am. Let me see what I can do for you.”

Guest: “Thank you so much, young man.”

(I go over to the A/C unit and realise that not only is it not on, it’s also broken. In regards to the guest, the perception of her being anything but pleasant has completely faded away at this point, but I’m more so concerned that this elderly lady was allowed to sit in such heat for such a long time.)

Me: “Okay, ma’am. I realise what’s the problem. Your A/C unit here is not working for whatever reason. Did anyone else check the unit?”

Guest: “No, not at all!”

Me: *stunned at this* “Okay. Here’s what I’m going to do now for you. I will be calling the engineers to the room to see if they can fix the A/C. In the meantime, I would recommend you go down to the restaurant on the second floor. We have air conditioning down there so you can cool off and relax whilst the problem here is fixed. I’ll also ask the restaurant to have a cool drink waiting for you to make up for the issue. How does that sound, ma’am?”

Guest: “That sounds very nice! Thank you for your understanding. May I have your name?”

Me: “You certainly can. It’s [My Name].”

Guest: “Thank you, [My Name]. I will be leaving a message about your conduct tomorrow before I leave. Thank you so much for your time!”

Me: “It’s my pleasure, ma’am. Have a nice day!”

(I left, happy that I was able to resolve the guest’s problem AND shatter the pretensions of nearly everybody else about that guest, and all because I didn’t over exaggerate her issue, and instead treated her problem as something that was easy to fix in less than an hour. Never let other people’s perceptions cloud yours.)

This Just Isn’t Going To Cowork

, , , , | Romantic | June 23, 2017

(I am 17 and my coworker is old enough to be my mother. One day her son, who is a little older than I am, comes to bring her lunch while I’m working. The next day…)

Coworker: “So, [Son] had a lot of questions about you last night.”

Me: “Questions? All I did was let him in the door.”

Coworker: “He thought you were real pretty! Wanted to know if I had your number in my phone.”

Me: “Was he disappointed when you didn’t?”

Coworker: *laughing* “He was. If we didn’t work together I’d be rooting for you, though. I know you’re not crazy like his last girlfriend.”

(The next week her son is in the office again and waggles his eyebrows at me, walking in my direction. Suddenly, my coworker reaches up and grabs his shirt collar.)

Coworker: “[Son], I never thought I’d have to tell you this, but you are not allowed to date MY coworkers!”

Living In A La La Land

, , , , , | Working | June 22, 2017

(I’m conducting a disciplinary meeting with an employee who has numerous customer complaints, late punches, and missed days. His department head is there as my co-manager.)

Me: “I need you to understand that this meeting is your last warning. If you have any issues over the next month, we will be letting you go. Now, we need to look at these write ups one by one, and you will have a chance to discuss each one, okay?”

Employee: “No!”

Department Head: “Are you putting in your resignation?”

Employee: “No, you’re just doing it wrong! You’re supposed to say two nice things for every bad thing. You said something mean, so now you have to give me two compliments.”

Me: “I’m not saying anything mean; we are just reviewing the facts. Okay, the first write up was from your supervisor, and—”

Employee: “I’m not listening until both of you AND [Supervisor] say something nice!”

Department Head: “Okay, this isn’t the point of a disciplinary meeting—”

Employee: *putting hands over his ears* “LALALA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! LALALA! NOT LISTENING! LALALA!”

(This keeps up for a minute while we sit shocked, then I turn and print out and sign the paperwork that terminates the employee. The whole time he has his hands over his ears and is yelling. He finally stops when security arrives.)

Employee: “You can’t fire me yet! You said I’d have a chance to explain my write ups! This isn’t fair!”

Me: *quietly to the department head* “Lalala, not listening.”

Hostile Beguile

, , , , , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

I work in a grocery store deli. We hire in a new employee, [Coworker #1], who seems nice enough and is a good worker. Three weeks later, on a Friday, [Coworker #1] calls in say she’s going to be late because she has to pick up her kids from school. It’s only the two of us closing the department that night, and the last person from the morning shift has to leave when she was meant to arrive. I shrug it off, figuring I can handle a little while alone.

A half hour passes and I start to get nervous, and slightly frustrated. In my few years of being at this job, no one has ever been this late. A total of fifty minutes passes before [Coworker #1] comes in.

In concern, slight panic, and mild frustration, I ask what caused her to be so late. She only says she had to pick up her kids and leaves the immediate area to clock in. Satisfied, I return to work and wait for her to come back.

A half hour passes and [Coworker #1] hasn’t entered the department since she arrived. I ask  [Coworker #2] from the prepared food department, who also can work the deli, to go look for her while I take care of the customers at the deli.

Eventually, [Coworker #2] comes back and says she can’t find [Coworker #1]; she’s nowhere in the back. We decide to flag down a manager and ask what to do. He uses the speaker system to call her back to the department. Ten minutes pass; no [Coworker #1]. The three of us conclude she has left the store and not told anyone. The manager says not to worry. [Coworker #2] thankfully has [Coworker #1]’s number, so she texts [Coworker #1]. [Coworker #1] does not respond for the rest of the night. [Coworker #2] decides to help me close during the last two hours of my shift, as closing the department is something one shouldn’t have to do alone. I ready myself to talk to her about this calmly tomorrow.

Tomorrow rolls around, and one of the Managers in Charge, who are manager when the official store manager is not around, calls me into her office along with the Union Representative. The MIC tells me that [Coworker #1] has filed a complaint against me, saying that my question had created a ‘hostile work environment’ and [Coworker #1] went home because of this and has not shown up for her morning shift that day. She gives me a talk about how much hiring people costs, gets my side of the story, tells me that this will go to corporate and a full investigation may ensue, and then sends me back to work. [Coworker #2] helps me calm down, as the conversation made me upset. I got in trouble for asking one simple, understandable question.

I still hang on to hope I can talk to [Coworker #1], as we’re scheduled to work together the next night, Sunday night. Our busiest day.

Surprise, surprise, [Coworker #1] doesn’t show, so she was officially fired for having two ‘no-call, no-shows’ during her first ninety days. I was a nervous wreck that I was going to close alone on the busiest day of the week. [Coworker #2] was working in prepared foods again that day and told me directly that she would help me close up, and did so. Despite all of this happening, I’m still confused. Which one of us was in the wrong?

The Contrarian Vegetarian

, , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(The office where I started working a few months ago decides to have a corporate BBQ. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade and, by now, try to avoid barbecues. Even though it probably would’ve been nice for networking I decide not to go and tick that I can’t attend on the response card. My boss, a rather nice guy, asks me about this.)

Boss: “Hey, I just saw that you can’t attend the BBQ. Is it something with the date?”

Me: “Yeah, I’d really love to come but… well, I don’t eat meat and I really don’t want to inconvenience somebody. Besides I wouldn’t feel comfortable needing some kind of special treatment. However, I’d be happy to attend the next corporate event.”

Boss: “Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad?”

Me: *laughing* “Well, to be honest, from my experience I could come wearing a clown’s costume and only talk Swahili and still only be reluctantly talking about my diet the whole evening… only to be subsequently seen as a ‘missionizing vegetarian.’ It’s fine, though; I just don’t feel comfortable at BBQs. I don’t want anybody to feel like he has to justify why he’s eating meat and I don’t want to justify myself. Sadly, BBQs provoke a massive amount of both.”

Boss: *reassuring* “Nonsense! It will be fine. Just write that you are vegetarian on the response card and I’ll let [Coworker who organizes the food] know. She’ll organize something.”

(I comply and, after a while, even start looking forward to the BBQ. The day rolls around and, when they call for dinner, I start looking around only to find that there’s nothing marked as vegetarian and, in fact, even the salads all have bacon in them. I decide to ask said coworker since I think she might have stored the vegetarian options separately.)

Me: “Hi, [Coworker]. Ehhm, did [Boss] talk to you? I can’t find a vegetarian meal.”

Coworker: *snarky* “He did. And that’s because there’s no vegetarian option. Honestly, I’m sick and tired of you vegetarians always trying to force your beliefs on us normal people! It’s unfriendly and unnatural! You’ll eat meat or leave!”

(The irony was somehow lost on her. I apologized to my boss and left.)

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