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Five Nights At Freddy’s Fortress Of Frustration

, , , , , , , , , , | Working | September 8, 2023

I am taking my first out-of-state vacation in five years, and I’ve flown all the way from the USA’s West Coast to the East Coast to stay in a couple of large but lesser-visited cities instead of the major tourist areas like New York, Philadelphia, or Washington. 

I spend five nights in the first city on my tour, an East Coast state capital, and while the experience in the city is fantastic, the hotel is… something else.

Day one. I arrive fairly late in the evening and give the receptionist at the front desk my ID, and he looks at it very suspiciously.

Receptionist #1: “Is this fake?”

I’m surprised; my picture doesn’t look THAT outdated.

Me: “No? That’s me.”

He hands my ID back, thankfully.

Receptionist #1: “I can’t accept this.”

Me: “What’s wrong with it?”

Receptionist #1: “If I told you, you’d come back with a better fake. Do you have a real ID?”

Me: “Fine. Whatever. I have my passport, as well.”

I hand the attendant my passport, which is some five years older than my license, with an even more outdated photo. He takes one look at it before tossing it back.

Receptionist #1: “No, that one has the same problem.”

Me: “Which is what?”

Receptionist #1: “There’s no such place as Oregon.”

Me: “…I’m sorry, what? It’s a state in the Pacific Northwest, directly above California. I’m from Portland.”

Receptionist #1: *Condescendingly* “Portland is in Maine.”

Me: “There is a Portland in Maine, yes, that’s the original—”

Receptionist #1: “Oregon was that country all the pioneers went to in the covered wagons. The Oregon Trail.”

Me: “Exactly!”

Receptionist #1: “But it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s part of Canada now.”

Me: *Thoroughly astounded* “Okay, pull up Google Maps…”

After looking at a map of the US, including the Wikipedia article about the state of Oregon and how it became the thirty-third state in 1859, to [Receptionist #1]’s credit, he does seem to admit defeat and accept my ID as valid. Naively, I think that’s the end of the issues.

Day two. I spend the day exploring the city, and I go back to the hotel to find that my key card has been deactivated. Silly me; I accidentally kept my key card in the same pocket as my phone. I usually don’t make that mistake. I go back down to the front desk. There is a different person working there this time.

Me: “Hey, I’m sorry. I accidentally deactivated my key card. I had it in the same pocket as my—”

[Receptionist #2] acts as though I’ve asked her to personally carry my luggage up three flights of stairs.

Receptionist #2: “Guhhh… What room number?”

Me: “Uh… [number].”

This receptionist doesn’t even check my ID at all; she just takes the key, remagnetizes it, and sends me on my way. I am a little concerned about the security in this hotel, but I’m not about to go through the same Oregon song and dance with this receptionist, so I just take my key and leave.

Day three. I come back to my hotel room around lunchtime to find my key deactivated again, even though I’ve kept it away from magnetic sources. Sighing and resigning myself to another visit to the front desk, I bite the bullet and go get it reactivated.

Receptionist #2: “You know, you really can’t keep your key card in your pocket with your phone or other cards because it messes with the magstripe. Don’t you know that?”

Me: “I’m aware. I’m sorry. Just… set it back up, please.”

This time, I put my wallet, phone, and passport in my left cargo shorts pockets, with the room key literally the only thing in my right pocket. Not six hours later, I try to get back in my room, and… no dice. Mentally cursing my luck, I march back down to the front desk.

Me: “Key’s broke again.”

Receptionist #2: “God, I told you—”

Me: “I’m going to stop you right there. Look at this.”

I then proceed to show the receptionist exactly where everything is in my pockets, after which she just sighs and remakes my key.

Me: “At this point, wouldn’t it just be easier to get me a completely different key? If this one is refusing to hold a charge—”

Receptionist #2: *Glaring at me* “No. I’ve already made the key. Just go.”

All righty, then. I am too tired and frustrated to say anything, so I head for the elevator to return to my room. But as soon as the doors open—

Me: “What in the f***?”

Somehow, the elevator itself is stuck a full eighteen inches above the actual floor level, and the poor elderly lady actually in the elevator is just as surprised as I am. After helping the lady out, I go back to the receptionist to let her know that the elevator appears to be malfunctioning.

Receptionist #2: “And how is that my problem? It still works fine. Just watch your step.”

Needless to say, I take the stairs after that.

Day four. Somehow, nothing bizarre actually happened with the hotel itself today. Just… surrounding it. I call a rideshare to drive me to the other side of town for a sporting event. While standing outside waiting for the driver to show up, I see the rideshare car enter the parking lot, drive right by me, and do two very slow laps around the hotel. The driver looks very confused when she passes by the second time. I am unable to flag her down and get her attention before she just wanders off back onto the highway, and I get a notification that my ride has been canceled.

So, I resort to taking the bus. Fine enough… except that on the way back, the driver completely ignores my signal to stop at the station just outside the hotel. 

Me: “Um… sorry, that was my stop.”

Bus Driver: *Happy as a clam* “Hmm? Oh, there’s no bus stop at that corner. I’ll drop you at the next one.”

When I make it back to that corner, I take a good long look at the very plainly marked bus stop on the hotel’s corner, served only by the line that I rode.

Okay. Apparently, this hotel is just in another dimension or something.

Day five: my last day before flying to another city. I collect all my dirty laundry and go pay a visit to the laundry room downstairs, only to find the door locked. Upon closer inspection, I realize that it hasn’t actually opened for the day yet; it’s 8:45, and the sign says it opens at 9:00. No big deal. I hang out in the lobby and read for a while.

It’s almost 9:30 by the time I check on the laundry room again. It’s still locked. I head up to the front desk yet again, thoroughly ready for this saga to be over. Lo and behold, there’s a completely different receptionist this time. My heart rises with hope for one very brief moment.

Me: “Hey, sorry, it looks like your laundry room hasn’t been unlocked yet. It says it’s supposed to open at 9:00—”

Receptionist #3: “It’s not for customers.”

Me: *Pauses* “Sorry, what? It says on the door, ‘Guest Laundry.’ I’m a guest in room [number].”

Receptionist #3: “You’re not a guest; you’re a customer. The laundry room is not for customers.”

Me: *Pauses again* “Then what, pray tell, would qualify anyone as a guest, if staying at your hotel makes them a customer?”

Receptionist #3: “Are you a president? Are you a governor? Are you [Some Celebrity I’ve never heard of]? No? Then you’re a customer.”

My mind blown, I walked down the street with my bag of dirty laundry to a laundromat a half-mile away. Upon returning, I completely forgot about the stupid elevator and got in. As soon as the doors closed and the horrid grinding started, I knew I’d made a mistake.

Somehow, the elevator made it almost to my floor. I say, “almost,” because it opened the doors about four feet below my floor. I have absolutely no idea how in the world the mechanisms in any elevator could even make that possible, but this particular elevator didn’t look like it had been inspected — much less maintained — since the Carter administration.

Not one to admit defeat, I tossed my laundry bag up onto the landing and climbed out. I was just about ready to go down and demand the hotel’s manager, something I absolutely NEVER do. I just wanted to drop my clothes off in my room first.

I got to my room… only to find my key card once again deactivated.

The worst part? I discovered that [Receptionist #3], who had denied me the use of the laundry room, was the day manager, and [Receptionist #1], who thought Oregon was the American Atlantis, was the night manager.

I went back to my room, survived the final night, packed up, dropped my useless keys at the front desk, and booked it straight to the airport.

I’ll go back to [City] in a heartbeat; I loved it and had a great time. But I can’t help but wonder if that hotel was halfway into a different reality entirely.

This story is part of our Not Always Working Most-Epic Stories roundup!

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Vacations Are Supposed To Be Relaxing, Right?

, , , , , , , | Working | August 4, 2023

My husband and I are supposed to go on a cruise for a friend’s wedding. Our plane is late, so we miss the boat. The airline pays for us to stay at a hotel and then tells us we can get a flight to the next port of call, which is in the Dominican Republic. They tell us the port is an hour’s drive from the airport. 

We stay overnight and get the flight, and once we land, we find out that the port is on the other side of the island and a six- to eight-hour drive. Naturally, we’re ticked. We have to negotiate with the taxi service to be driven out for a flat rate of 200 USD. 

We’re driving and driving, and we keep seeing jeeps and trucks with guys hanging off the back with assault rifles so, naturally, we’re a little concerned.

We are getting close to the time that the ship will be leaving, and we’re still about an hour to an hour and a half away.  

He stops at a small puddle-jumper airport that only goes to Puerto Rico and back. The driver wants to leave us there. My husband understands enough Spanish to know what is being said and tells me in a whisper. The staff says, “No, you are not abandoning these people here. You are taking them back.” They tell him that we were assured by the driver that he would get us there in time, but he didn’t, so it’s really on him that he didn’t keep his word. (And he has to go back anyway.)

The driver grumbles and says fine, but he needs to get some food first. He starts driving through some really sketchy neighborhoods looking for street vendors. He finds one and gets us a couple of bottles of water — water bottles that have previously been drunk, washed out (hopefully), and refilled. These bottles end up leaking in my carry bag and soaking almost everything in it. He starts driving back, and he pulls over when we’re getting closer and tells us that we need to give him 200 more dollars or he’s leaving us there. Had we known the airport was literally three blocks away, I would have told him to stuff off. Since we have no idea where we are, we have no choice but to pay him.

We get to the airport, and although the building is open, the airport is closed. We can sit inside, but we have to wait until 6:00 am for the airport to open again. At this point, it is around midnight. My husband spends the time taking the papers in my bags that got soaked and drying them with the hand dryer in the bathroom. I try to get some sleep curled up on the chair, but it is freezing in there and not conducive to getting any rest.

Morning comes, and we go to the counter to get booked on a flight back to the US because we are so over this wedding and cruise. (The cruise refund is a whole other nightmare story.)

I tell the agent what a horrible time we’ve had and what we went through being held up by the driver, and she’s uh-huhing and pretty much ignoring us. (I really just need to vent; I’m not expecting or looking for an upgrade or anything.) She is having trouble booking tickets back to the US for us. She calls over a supervisor, and I tell the story again, including how we got held up by the taxi driver. She starts uh-huhing and then stops and looks me straight in the eye.

Supervisor: “WHAT?!”

I reiterate the part about being held up by the driver (that he was going to abandon us if we didn’t give him more money).

Supervisor: “THAT IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE! We don’t treat visitors like that in this country.”

She punches a couple more buttons.

Supervisor: “You will not be charged for the ticket change, and I am getting you on the next flight. It leaves in twenty-five minutes, so you’re going to have to run for the gate.”

The first agent made no mention of a ticket change price, so we had no idea that what she was doing was either trying to find the cheapest ticket change price or the highest.

We made our flight, but I didn’t breathe easy until the announcement came over the PA that we were crossing into the US. I had never been so glad to get home.

Since When Did A Rideshare Need To Be More Than A Ride?

, , , | Right | July 25, 2023

I am driving for a rideshare app, and I pull up outside a mall to pick up two girls and their huge amount of shopping bags. I see them looking at my car and pausing, so I wind down the window to confirm.

Me: “[Rideshare] for [Passenger]?”

Passenger: “Uh… how old is your car?”

Me: “Like, 2009?”

Passenger: “So, there’s no phone charging?”

Me: “Uh… no.”

Passenger: “Or Bluetooth?”

Me: “No.”

Standing right there, she canceled the ride without saying anything. One star coming your way!

Five Stars, Driver! Five Stars!

, , , , , , , | Right | July 25, 2023

I pick up a woman using the rideshare app I drive for. I play music in my car at a quiet volume, but I have signs visible to the passengers saying that I am happy to turn the music off or play a certain radio station if they prefer.

Passenger: “Can you play some music that’s a little less offensive?”

I personally don’t consider Louis Armstrong offensive, but I don’t judge people’s tastes, so I oblige and change my playlist to the radio.

Passenger: “This is even more offensive!”

Okay, Beyoncé isn’t for everyone, so I change it once again.

Passenger: “Look, if you’re doing this on purpose, I don’t appreciate it.”

Me: “Sorry, ma’am. Maybe if you want to hear something specific, I can use my Spotify—”

Passenger: “Just stop playing all this [n-word] music!”

Without hesitation, I take the nearest turn and pull up at a gas station. The passenger looks up from her phone.

Passenger: “Seriously? You should fill up your gas before you pick up a passenger.”

Me: “Actually, this is where I am dropping you off. You should be able to safely get another ride from here, but I am not taking you.”

Passenger: “What? No! I paid for this ride and you’re f****** taking me!”

Me: “The app’s terms and conditions protect the driver from passengers such as yourself. Please get out of my car.”

Passenger: “I’m gonna report you!”

Me: “That’s fine, ma’am. Please do so outside my car.”

Passenger: “I’m not going anywhere!

I immediately dial 911 and put the call on speakerphone.

Me: “Can I get the police to come to the [Gas Station] off of [exit number]? I have an aggressive and abusive passenger refusing to exit my vehicle.”

Passenger: “You f****** [n-word]! You are so gonna get f***ed up!”

Me: *Into the phone* “I trust you heard that?”

She actually did exit the vehicle, but I hung around to wait for the police, where I pointed her out — she couldn’t get another ride from this location very quickly — and they arrested her. I provided my in-car camera footage when evidence was requested as I pressed charges. 

You have to give them consequences for that behavior, or it’ll just keep happening.

That Had Better Be A D*** Good Party

, , , , , , , , , , , | Working | July 19, 2023

I accepted a remote job with an employer who decided that it was time for us all to meet in person. In Berlin. I live on the other end of Germany. Doesn’t matter. Boss pays. Good food and a party, too. Okay. Why not?

Public transportation is disrupted. After various misadventures, I give up, and my husband takes the day off to drive me to the train station. The problem is, today happens to be his office day, which his brilliant employer just has to remember, and now he has to drive from the office to pick me up.

Finally, the journey begins at the train station. The train is delayed. Of course. 

On the first intermediate stop after thirty minutes, the wheels of my suitcase get stuck. The cause: a dead mouse! What the f***?!

The second train is also delayed, and it’s packed. The air conditioning doesn’t work. It smells like stinky feet, and someone thought it would be a brilliant idea to insert a fish sandwich into this situation and eat it as slowly as possible. It has onions on it, too. We all can smell it.

Fortunately, someone gets off at the first stop, but someone else tries to cut in line and get to the seat. However, I am angry and use my elbows. That seat is mine! 

Next stop. There’s a train announcement: we are here indefinitely because the track is on fire. What. The. F******. F***?!

Twenty minutes later, we are informed that it was only homemade Molotov cocktails thrown on the tracks by a few teenagers! I thought I wasn’t old enough to say this, but what is wrong with today’s youth? In my time, we felt pretty cool if we smoked a joint and stole cherries from the neighbor’s tree for the munchies! Who on earth thinks it’s a bright idea to stick old rags in a vodka bottle, set that on fire, and throw it on train tracks? Luckily, it didn’t burn well, so the train employees only needed a fire extinguisher to put out the smoldering grass around the tracks.

Finally, we arrive in Berlin. The wheels of my suitcase get stuck again. Reason unknown. For inexplicable reasons, pigeons fly low through the train station. A fellow passenger idiot is unable to stop to stare at the pigeons, so he crashes into me, not seeing me because he was completely overwhelmed by the spectacle of flying fat air rats. He’s stumbling as he collides with me from behind. Fortunately, he manages to hold onto the railing.

I don’t.

In my attempt to stay upright, I wrench my hand before I have to let go of the railing and collide with a trash bin.

My hand slowly swells. My foot doesn’t want to cooperate. [Rideshare Company] doesn’t pick up from the side of the train station where I’m standing. I can’t walk to where [Rideshare Company] can pick me up.

There’s a ray of hope: a kind Polish taxi driver sees me limping and carries my suitcase to the taxi, offering a fixed price. I know that if the taxi meter were running, there couldn’t be a fixed price. If it’s not running, it’s not exactly legal to get into that taxi. Usually, I wouldn’t get into an illegal situation, especially when it comes to taxis. But I have history with Polish people, and so far my experiences have always been good. I have a soft spot for them. Screw it. She’ll have to deal with the consequences if someone catches her working under the table and she gives me good vibes. I for sure won’t report her; after four hours of Hell on Deutsche Bahn, I just want to get to the hotel.

The friendly Polish woman drives with a swift style. My map app says the journey will take thirty minutes. She does it in twenty. After the day I’ve had, I’m almost surprised I reached my destination at all. 

Finally, I’m at the hotel, standing at the reception. I want to identify myself… but my wallet is gone. It is still there in the taxi; I paid, after all. Desperately, I run to the entrance. My foot doesn’t like that. The nice Polish taxi driver is standing in front of the entrance, about to get in. She saw the wallet on the back seat and came after me to bring it back. This gracious angel on Earth is truly the only silver lining so far! I give her an extra five euros.

I return to reception, where I encounter [Staff Member #1]. He has just the right amount of compassion when checking me in. He books House Three, ninth floor, room 947.

House three? What hotel has three houses? Okay, this one doesn’t have three houses. It has four. Oh, my.

I wander through a labyrinth of corridors to the elevator of House Three. I find the room and put my card up to the sensor on the door.

Nothing. The door lock doesn’t work.

I try several angles. No luck.

I go back to the reception, where I meet [Staff Member #2], who is also very nice. She gives me a room with a card and a key — she does have a sense of humor — again in House Three, eighth floor, Room 850. I don’t miss the fact that the sum of the digits of the room adds up to 13, which, when added together again, equals 4, which is considered the number of death in China.

It was a prophecy.

The room is hot as h***. The ventilation only makes a faint clicking sound. The air conditioning shows an error.

Back to the reception, where I meet [Staff Member #3]. New attempt, new luck. Another very nice person.

He books House Two, fourteenth floor, Room 1423. He also winks and hands me a key in addition to the key card.

I arrive at the new room. And what did this second angel of the day do? He booked me a room with a bathtub!

I quickly grab my little flask of all-purpose cleaner and the emergency sponge to give it a quick wipe down. After all, it’s a hotel room and not my first business trip. Now, finally, I can relax my foot. My hand and my side also don’t hurt as much anymore in the warm water.

The hotel has a bar. This second, lovely angel I met today, the third hotel employee, this epitome of all receptionists, has stuck a cocktail voucher to the key card.

I’ve earned that.