I’m writing this installment to explain and get off my chest the worst experience that I’ve ever had at a job. More to get it off of my mind before I forget the unusually shitty details about the week I started working at a hotel in Manchester.
I was hired last Friday. I was so excited, finally someone was giving me a chance to work. I had to grab the ball and run with it. I was hired to be a night auditor at a hotel in Manchester. I had some reservations, as I looked at the schedule and saw that they were training me to do a morning shift followed by an evening shift. . . then learning the night audit. I was fine with this, no harm in cross training me to do other time periods. The only other reservations I had about the job was my own lack of knowledge. I had no clue how to get around in Manchester, where places were, and what I could give for directions to guests. I know I would, over time, learn these.
Sunday: 7-3 shift: I had a training person, who was rather nice but also seemed to not have a particular interest in training me. As most people know, if you’re forced, it’s not going to turn out so well. The manager was insisting on me learning the basics very quickly so that I could start my own shifts even quicker. It’s a nice thought, probably would save the company some money. Unfortunately in reality it seems as if people were rushing me to learn a vast amount of things in a short amount of time. I’m not sure anyone could learn that way, and succeed. It became clear after a short period, that I was there as a fill in so that my training person could go about breaking every policy that I had just got done reading about. From making long personal calls and allowing me to attempt to fend for myself without the basic knowledge of how to even check someone in, to hanging around out back having lunch (which is something that rarely gets to happen at hotel front desks) and leaving me to fiddle and squirm in front of guests. It was not a good day. I had so much stress at the end of the day I broke down and wondered if this was going to work. Not a good feeling after the first day of work. I pushed myself, and told myself that it would get better.
Monday: 3-11 shift: Different day, same lack of training. I was being shown more things, but to be honest I believe that my memory was coming back from my old days working at the hotel in Amesbury was helping me more than I was being helped in training. The manager explained to my training manager that she wished for the shift that the training manager would sit down and I would run the shift. I looked back at her in amazement. I’d literally been on the job for 8 hours and I’m expected to run a 104 room hotel with many amenities, pick ups from the airport, and all the while doing it with staff that does not speak my language. I have NO problem with people who speak another language, but it is a barrier to getting business done right. Another night, another trainwreck. As I went home I felt as if they didn’t really care if I knew what I was doing, just to get a body in there. I felt like I was worthless beyond my ability to speak and type. I was miserable. Misery I can deal with, but being incompetent because of my lack of training was not something I can deal with. I had two more nights to learn everything I could before I was going to be on my own shift in a major hotel. I was worried.
Thursday: 11-7 shift: Finally, I was getting a chance to learn in an environment that allowed me to. I like training on the overnights because I have an actual chance to learn things without having as much customer interactions. Granted, the interactions were there but instead of being constantly inundated I was given time to go through the motions I was learning (or remembering). My new training person was a real professional. He’s a good guy and really took the time to try and help me learn the keys to the job. He was frustrated that I had not learned as much as he was hoping. I could barely check people in correctly. I had problems answering the phone to the way their policy states. I didn’t know the area nor could I give accurate directions to places and from. I hadn’t grasped the extra amenities like Park and Ride, Pet Policy, booking rooms, reservations, etc. I knew at this point, that it wasn’t my training that was providing me the knowledge of how to do my job, but the memory of my past job which I was well trained at and was similar to the current systems that was getting me by. This is not good, feeling this way and seeing the employee schedule creep up on me, bulging at the date on Saturday where I would be thrown to the wolves. I was not going to be ready for what was going to happen.
Friday: 11-7: My last night before I was on my own, and I was spending more time learning what it was that I was actually hired to do: Night Auditing. I was grasping it, I had written good notes, and had a good night audit trainer. I didn’t learn many hotel systems beyond the night audit paperwork, and feared that I wasn’t going to be ready. I expressed this to him and he said that he agreed that it was going to be very very hard because we were so busy in the hotel the next evening. He even said “I wouldn’t put you by yourself so quickly, especially on a Saturday night.”
Before I get into Saturday, a bit of background. I haven’t been eating. I haven’t had TIME. Working the desk at a hotel, you find this is nothing new. Laws and regulations about break periods are thrown out the window. Who’s going to cover you for your ‘mandatory 30 minute meal break’ and ‘two fifteen minute breaks’? No one, of course. When I arrive home, I attempt to sleep. Sleep patterns are all screwed up, and seeing as I was allowed to leave at 5am Friday and had to be back at 3pm Saturday, it was up to me to force myself into slumber quickly. Unfortunately, this was not going to be the case. I lost heat in my home and had to deal with being awake for 3 hours while waiting for the repairman to fix it. I seemed to get phone call after phone call awaking me, neighbors leaf blowing, and general anxiety about my upcoming shift. I was dead tired, starving, and hit the snooze button until I could no longer sleep and successfully get into work on time. I showered in cold water, made a pb sandwich, and jumped in the car. I was worried, and you’ll see why in a minute.
Saturday: The day from HELL: 3-11: I arrived at the hotel to find the 7-3 person struggling and running around trying to finish her work. This is not a good sign, she isn’t complete with her responsibilities and I was not going to have any help from her. A nice girl, she didn’t really seem to care if I had questions or comments. After informing me that she “bent the rules” for a few people here and there leaving me with a mess to clean up, she quickly ran to the bathroom.
an alarm was going off. I had heard it before. We have a guest wake up call printer, which prints the wake up calls and is important to keep on. Unfortunately, no one had shown me how to turn the damn thing off. A big note on it says “do not silence this alarm” and it should have had a note that said “do not throw this out the window”. This loud, annoying sound was bothering not only me, but my guests, and people that were visiting. It was mind numbing, it was almost intolerable. . .but I worked through it and just left it going while I went about trying to fix every other problem I had at the moment. I pulled out my daily checklist, and checked off two or three things. I noticed we were at 86% occupancy… we were almost a full house. In my experience, this was not good if there’s problems with a room, there’s no where to switch them to.
Guests are streaming in, asking me about the squeal going on that’s loud and annoying. I keep informing them that I’ve tried to call some people to get an answer on how to turn it off, but to no avail. The general manager had some pressing issue that led her to leave the hotel. The new guy, by himself, with no one to contact. This was worse than I even had imagined. I dealt with it, pressing on by winging it and doing my best. I had one bright light in a sea of darkness. A bosnian fellow that worked at the hotel, and spoke next to no English. He would run the shuttle bus for me and help out around the hotel. I could barely communicate to him, but once in a while he would stroll by and I could motion for him to check a room that the housekeepers didn’t let me know are clean or not.
Which leads me to my next problem: Central Reservations. Where people call an 800 number and speak to a representative that’s more than happy to book them in our hotel rooms even if the rooms are marked as DIRTY. Nice. So I have a booked house, and the reservations line is trying to put people into dirty rooms with no housekeeper to clean them. What am I supposed to do, leave my busy desk to go clean a room. Mind you, I’ve not yet even had a chance to count my cash drawer to make sure it’s at the proper amount and also been taking in cash which would screw up my totals. I was informed earlier that one particular cash paying guest who did not leave an incidental had shit on the fucking floor of his room after he checked out. Nothing I could do (or had time to do), he had left and didn’t have a credit card for me to charge for his extra present on the floor, alcohol spilled everywhere, and his room was already rented out to someone else. Nice. Well, he showed up at the desk. He said “I’m in room 106, or a I was, and I’m having a diabetic attack.” :falls to the floor: so the guy was a diabetic, drank alcohol all night long, and now fainted on the floor. I called 9-1-1 and was told to stay on the line. No thanks lady, I have so much shit to do I don’t have time, just send these guys out to pick this dirtbag off my floor. The firefighters, in their rush to get a sick man better, had to stop and ask me about the squeel they kept hearing. Of course, I was going to have to explain this wake up call log alarm 4 or 500 more times to come.
At this point, I have guest after guest checking in, and I’m praying that the rooms I’m putting them into are clean and ready to go. I run outside to help a handicapped man bring his luggage in. Meanwhile, the line is starting to form again. “How do I get to the Verizon Center?” Damned if I know, take Elm Street right? “How do I get to Elm Street”. . . . I wish I knew. Seems like something they’d train you on how to tell people. Jeff Dunham is playing the Verizon Center, and that is the reason why so many are staying with us for the evening. The phone is ringing off the hook with people looking for rooms. We just don’t have them. Unfortunately, Central Reservations doesn’t care if you have rooms or not, they’re going to book people in them anyways.
The pool is cold, it’s supposed to be heated. Obviously not a problem for a manager to deal with before she leaves for whatever it is she’s going out to do. Nor can she answer her phone when I call to ask her questions. At this point, I’m not sure how much worse the night can get. I hope that it’s all over now. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.
Guests are coming back to the desk, asking for new keys to their room. Room keys sometimes don’t work when you put them next to a cell-phone, and deactivate. It’s normal. What’s not normal is for a guest to come back down 4-5 times because the two keys I made for them are not allowing them into their own room. This is a huge problem. I’m not supposed to leave the desk, nor can I find the bosnian fellow and if I could, how to explain to him what I needed him to do. I made new keys for the 23 or so guests that complained of not being able to get into their rooms. I ran up the stairs to each of these rooms armed with new keys and the master key. The keys are not working to let them into the rooms. What the FUCK! What am I going to do, open the door for everyone whenever they want to get in and out of their stupid rooms? I guess so! One woman, towards the end, had come down 5 separate times to get new keys. The look on her face was that of a woman who blamed me for the death of her newborn. She was furious with me for not being able to solve the problem. At this point, I was feeling that this job was not the right fit for me, as I had no training in how to deal with the fact that this hotel was slipshod and completely broken.
The elevator was at a standstill. I had learned earlier in the week that “once in a great while” the elevator didn’t work and needed to have its circuit breaker flipped. That was downstairs in the bowels of the hotel. Another thing to leave the line of people waiting for, to have me run up and down the stairs. Unfortunately, the breaker wasn’t working for the elevator. Now we have TWO elevators that are out of service and lots of upset people with me for not having someone around to help them carry their luggage to the top floor. What a disaster.
A couple arrived, explaining that they had a reservation, of course, I saw no such name on my arrivals list. I searched to find out that central reservations booked them the previous evening. They were listed as a NO SHOW and were charged. I explained the situation, and had my bosnian friend check the only double occupancy room we had left to see if it was clean or dirty as it is marked in the system. Thankfully, something went right and it was actually cleaned. Halleighluia. I’m now out of double rooms and Kings are only at 3 or 4 left. I was thankful that I had no more rooms really to sell, but was afraid that central reservations was going to continue to book rooms even though I don’t have them. The only other rooms to book were the ones that the manager was staying in. That would be funny.
After running upstairs all night to let people into their rooms, down to check to circuit breaker again and again for the elevator, answering phone calls, turning away walk-in guests. . . now came the pool. The pool was supposed to be heated. I’ve written in the log the last few days that the pool needed to be fixed immediately. It was freezing cold. Guests were complaining to me as if I had some special power to control the pool. I kept explaining that it was my first night on the job and I had no answers only shared frustration. I shared with them the GM’s number and for most people, who understood I had no authority nor knowledge, this was good enough. For some, this was the last straw.
A woman and her husbund came down and she literally started screaming at me. “What is with your fucking hotel? Your elevators don’t work, my room keys are not working, your pool is FREEZING! The other night I came back and half my room had electricity, and the other half did not. You put me in a room where there are smokers next door and I explicitly asked you to not do so. I can’t even breathe in my room. I want a full refund, immediately!!!!!”
Yeah, cause I can just do that right? I called the GM and no answer, again. I called my night audit training person and no answer, again. The squeel is going off, the keys are not working, the elevators are crapped out, the pool is frozen, people are fainting on the floor, pooping on the floor, central reservations, overbooking, dirty rooms, no time to even count my drawer. I had enough. I was breaking down from fatigue, anger, sadness, depression, and anxiety.
I opened the cash drawer, and told the woman to take whatever she wanted. She looked at me in disbelief. I went through the entire list above without a hesitation. I informed her that I had not only NO authority to refund her room stays, but I had no knowledge of even how to do so. The best thing I could do was to open the drawer and let her take back cash. I eyes started to well up, she could see that she was my last straw. She became inquisitive. “this really is your first night? You weren’t trained on any of this? My god I’m sorry to put this on you I know it’s not your fault.” I stopped her and spoke uncustomarilly loud, “I am the man at the desk, it is my responsibility to know these things before I am in these situations. I have no answers except that I’ve done my best tonight and I’ve failed at my job due to lack of training and knowledge. I understand that you’ve had a horrible experience here, and I really wish beyond anything that I could make it right. I just have no idea how to do that. I wish your room had electricity in all of it, the pool was warm, the elevator worked, your keys let you into your room…” Her husbund grabbed her by the arm and told her to back off and give me a minute. A tear ran down my face out of sheer stress and anxiety. I picked up the phone and dialed the GM again. No answer. I dialed the night audit trainer again (who lives at the hotel). . . no answer but a voicemail. I told him to come down to the desk immediately. . . I am at my wits end.
The woman told me to just have someone call her this evening to let her know how they were going to fix it, and apologized. I stopped her and said “no mam, I’M sorry.”
She was quickly replaced with yet another guest that couldn’t get into their room. I apologized again, and ran up the stairs with them to use the master key. The master key, was not working. This could only mean one thing. . . someone was using their room and locked it from the inside. How that happens I have no idea. I can only think I gave out the wrong key to someone who checked in and they used the room to shower and locked the door behind them. This family, returning from their day wants only to get into their room, and they are instead sitting outside of it, listening to someone in their shower. “You have to be able to fix this.” Sure, I have no other rooms to check people into, no way of making this right. I have no tools to get the job done. I have nothing left for this place but pure hatred towards the people who put me into this position. . .and for what. . . 9.50 an hour (not even the 10 I specified when I was hired?)
The training manager came down to the desk, and I told him that this place was a disaster. That I wasn’t trained properly and thrown to the wolves to save the hotel a few bucks. I told him everything that had gone wrong and that I no longer wanted to work for such a company. He told me that if I was going to leave, to just leave and be done with it. I have never felt more insulted. I guess this is common for everything to go wrong in this hotel, and why would I want to put myself through the same anguish every night? I picked up my hoodie, informed him that I never even got a chance to count the drawer from the beginning, and started walking to the door.
“you’re actually leaving?” I heard just as I saw the woman who yelled at me come back downstairs as well as the woman who was left outside of her room. The squeel came to an end as I opened the door and I glanced back to see that the training manager simply unplugged it. I didn’t look back again. I got into my car, sped onto 293 and headed towards home. I had a splitting headache, pain in my chest, and shortness of breath. I was having a panic attack, anxiety, I hadn’t felt this way since I was in the worst of my drinking days. The worst part is, now I’m jobless again, and have to go back out there and pretend that this, the worst day of my working life didn’t happen. I failed, because they failed me, but a failure is still a failure.
I just have to try again, because I have no other option.