Friday, June 29, 2012

Convention & Visitors Center, Ready To Serve!

Here's one I submitted to a contest for a book called Jobs Of The Damned. I didn't get enough votes to get in, but got to read many other submissions of people who had been through PsychoBoss Hell. There is far more to this particular story which I'll get to soon.

The year is 2007. Being laid off, and getting a degree in PR in a city that prefers them barely post-pubescent, I was glad to get a job as a concierge, actually part of the city's convention and visitors center bureau, in a major downtown hotel & convention center. The boss was in his 60s, a tidy little gay man from the Deep South with a MA in Art History, who could be fun in the right mood, but his daily habit of weed and wine did nothing to help a brain that was immersed in hallucinogens he bragged of from his college days.

Although the schedule was erratic we weren’t allowed to write it down (seriously) and were only given a few days at a time. He said he just couldn’t think that far. His best galpal (let’s call her Lola) worked there, well, she drew a paycheck though she rarely showed up or called. She once missed an entire week of work and made her pay plus overtime. They had a long and very co-dependent relationship and were the personification of Philip and Mildred in Somerset Maugham's book, Of Human Bondage.

Every day I had to be by his side as he checked his e-mail. Every time he needed to send an e-mail with an attachment I had to walk him through it step by step. Every time.

He refused to write it down. For two years. And every step was torture. 
"But it won’t work.” 
"Yes it will."
"No, it’s not there, something’s happened to it." 
"No, it’s still there. See?" 
"Well Baby Jesus F* me in the F*king heart!" 

Unfortunately he was not able to speak a sentence or phrase without some of the most vile combinations of swearing I’ve ever heard. Twenty minutes it took for every e-mail attachment. Then there were the days he couldn’t open an e-mail, when he called the IT guys or his ISP to cuss them harshly. I would open it for him.
What did you do?
Since when do you have to do that?
More cursing and disbelief.

Once he couldn't open a link and cursed and swore that John McCain was controlling the internet so people could only see what McCain allowed.

The schedule conversations.
“Are you coming in tomorrow?”
"It’s a good thing I asked. Why not?"
"You told me not to, Bill."
"So, you just weren’t going to show up or call?
"Not if I’m told not to come, no."
Goddamit just give me a straight answer!"


"Now, when you come in tomorrow"
"Bill, I’m off tomorrow. Remember? Hospital? Biopsy?"
"But we need staff. What time can you get here?"
"Um, hospital says have someone to drive me home. Remember? So I won't be here. We talked about this."

"Goddam baby Jesus just f-ck me in the goddam f-cking heart why don't you!"
More cursing. And then more cursing.

To shorten this story, I’ll just make a little list of the highlights. 

• When the opportunity came for one of us to work an extra shift at twice the pay, he only booked himself and the gal that was attendance-challenged. 

• He quit putting one guy on the schedule because he suspected him of stealing some of his weed clientele. You heard me. He ran a good profit center on the side selling weed to some downtown restaurant employees.

• He had a restaurant menu magazine biz - a concierge menu book - on the side, and when restaurants wouldn’t pay to be in it he would pull their menus from the conventions and visitors center shelves and tell us not to recommend them. Acting like a mafia don - "They're dead to me!" Or "We'll show them how powerful our Menu Book is!" Even though the restaurant owners had paid membership dues to the convention and visitors bureau for to have us recommend them to guests.

• When the barista in our Starbucks began sexually harassing me he refused to get involved. I found later HR had contacted him, and he told them I had changed my mind and decided to drop it.

• If Boss Weed and Lola went to a restaurant, ordered a big meal and wine, they would turn into a pair of Leona Helmsley's tormenting the servers and sending back food. If a restaurant *gasp* charged them for the meal, they would tell us to never send people there or say it was closed.

• Sometimes people would approach the concierge desk asking for information or directions, and it was though a switch was flipped and the Anti-Concierge was in. “You can’t go there! You just can’t. They won’t let you in and don’t ask me or anyone else again.”

• I took his handwritten reports and created nice templates to make his boss’s job easier. He told the GM that Lola did them.

There were more, but I’m saving them for the book. Occasionally he would catch me at lunch studying software manuals or practicing for the GRE. Then he’d yell. “That’s a goddam waste of time. You’ll just be an over-educated concierge. Nobody’s going to hire you.”

His temper, memory, and personality were such a constant rollercoaster of emotions we’d take bets on it. The last week I was there I was cursed out (for calling to say the main highway near me was iced over and I couldn’t get in,) hung up on twice, lied to about schedule and told F-you. Then he said not to come back because I was being let go. So I didn’t go back. Of course the fool called five times the next day looking for me. I think he wanted to open his e-mail!     

The biggest downer of all was that he told me I was laid off, but told the CVB I quit, so I was never able to obtain unemployment benefits though I fought it for eight months, DOL wouldn't budge. Oh, let's call on some karma!                          

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Write What You Know

My dear readers, I've been off the blog radar but I'm back now. Stay with me and I'll have more true and bizarre adventures to share with you.