Monday, June 30, 2008

Longest Shift ever yesterday...

There are supposedly supposed to be 2 staff on duty during summer at the hostel... one for the phone and laundry and one to maintain the common spaces and check in guests. There were not two staff on duty yesterday, so I was at the hostel for 9 hours... I only put 8 1/2 on my timesheet because the last bit was me scrambling to figure out the reciepts... I was way too busy to ring up every time someone bought a day permit for parking (the system makes you type in a name, price, select "parking" from the "non taxable menu" indicate cash or credit and then print it. Same process when someone wants to use the internet.) and it was compounded by ringing up a woman for $50 too much because she told me she was traveling in a group of 4, 3 females and a male, and it was only when she was leaving to get her luggage that she remembered to buy a permit (yes, I asked before I rang her up if she wanted to buy a permit. She distracted me by segueing to talking about the fires and traffic) because her sister was with "the baby" and so I had to ring her up again for $40 less and I don't know how to void, and the two staff I asked also don't know how to void.

And even accounting for that error, my register was off because I had like $12 mysteriously sprung from nowhere because I can not do receipts while I put out fires, entertain people, explain our policies to people from vietnam and sweden who decided that the goodwill of strangers would protect and uplift them in a foreign country (they did not tell me this is what the plan was, because of the language barrier, but why else wouldn't you learn just a little english before your trip?), pacify intense/insane strangers, and field phone calls. And we hadn't any clean sheets so I had to go through all of the laundry to find the unused (but already touched by guests! And other sheets!) sheets.

But the phone calls were so frustrating. Because while I'm sorry the sf hi hostel didn't tell you the right info, there is nothing I can do about it besides apologize and explain the real info. And if you can call me now, why couldn't you call me to make the reservation? Because I can pretty much guarantee that if you had done so it would be for the right number of people. We also have a neat new way to reserve -online!-, but I can't guarantee the accuracy, user error and all. And, I am not your psychologist. I am not even your friend. I can't tell you whether you can handle a co-ed dorm. I could, most people can, and if anyone were violent I would not check them in or they would probably not use such a public room. But no, the co-ed dorm is not a padded cell, there will be other people and it will even be on the second floor! Any number of ills could befall you.

And I had another call from a lady who had never seen her credit card before or something. I asked if it was visa or mastercard and she told me it was through her bank. But there are only two choices so I let it go and tried them both. Instead of telling me the number in increments of 4 she was doing increments of 2 or 3. had to give it a few tries before she felt she'd read them off properly. And when I asked for the expiration date she told me it hadn't expired. I told her I really needed the date to make the reservation she told me she didn't know when exactly it expired but she was "a good christian lady" and was sure it was in the future. (how could she know that, incidentally?) I told her that would be fine and asked if there was a number anywhere on the card in the format "09/09" and lo and behold, there was.

Darwin was a moron, judging by today's phone conversations.

But the friendly canadians and oregonians who kept me company told me I was very nice to the people who phone in or arrive with limited coherence and comprehension. Canadian people! Think I'm nice! They are like the primary exporter of nice! Also crude oil, did you know that?) Which makes me think that I should go into some sort of customer service because I really do have a lot of patience for people who are still figuring out their place in the world and how to use social tools like politeness.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Work Crew, work,and the recession

The other day I got home from el pollo loco and when I mentioned to skip that my boss is really hard to get along with he said, "who, Eric?" (because he and eric are friends) and I said no, el pollo loco. And he said he couldn't believe I was still working there, he thought I'd be long goen from that job. And I just said no, I still like the other cashiers and the atmosphere, and I'm goign to give it a month and then decide whether I want to carry on working there. But what I was thinking was, quit my job? During a recession? Because my boss and I have different communication styles? There is no way I would ever do that. Because, I am not a quitter, I am really good at it, I am making 25% more than minimum wage (thanks to tips), and the opportunity cost (thanks econ!) of me spending my weeknights out of the house instead of in front of the tv is totally worth it. Because it is a recession! You can't turn down money doing something respectable and educational (I have officially sold chicken in every language I know except Welsh! And the Japanese tourists I helped were really not able to order chicken in English, I wasn't just showing off. I did do a little happy dance though.) and perspective-broadening during a recession. Waste not want not, you know?

(I am blogging on the bus (thank you wifi!) so if this post seems really disjointed it's because I keep staring out the window and contemplating life instead of soldiering on and finishing a complete thought.)

I feel like the recession is definitely working okay for me so far, honestly. It feels responsible. We as a country haven't any money so we are taking up clipping coupons and eating in, clothing exchanges and going to junior college first. It feels wholesome. IT's like planting a victory garden and darning our socks, except it isn't any work at all, just a retreat from consumption.

I do worry about people on the fringe of financial survival though.


The coast caught fire! As I was bringing in the mercury news for today I found a headline "Expect to roast until Sunday". Well done, Dehborah Lohse. That is exactly what we need from jounalists in times of crisis, inadvertantly macabre headlines.

The weather is quite apocalyptic today, sunny with rain and thunder.

School's Out!

I have been feeling incredibly light, just unexpectedly bouyant for a person working 75 hour weeks at 3 jobs. I think it's because I'm out of school for the first time in 5 years- since I was 14 I have taken summer classes at community college and highschool electives like Wilderness Leadership Training. Because, I was not about to get a job and community college is free for under 18s.

My El Pollo Loco job is a little bit boring and I don't like how my managers act- they are very, very rigid- not just about coming to work on time or dressing to code, but in their thought patterns. Yesterday I didn't have a customer so I looked up the salad options for my coworker who was trying to help someone but not very successfully. I told him the options so everythig could go smoothly, but Laura swooped in to sign in a new girl and froze my screen. "Why are you doing this?" she asked angrily, because I guess it kind of looked like I was ringing up a salad for no one. I just apologized (or told her good luck, I always get those phrases confused in spanish) but she shouted "go, you have a customer" which, yes, there was a man in line, but my register was currently completely nonresponsive, and there was another cashier so I was just planning to sort out the register and then help the guy. But laura needed me to help him so I called him over and he waited while I used laura's card to reset everything. It's like there's a flow chart of behavior choices and if something doesn't go exactly as planned, the only choice is to freeze up and get your higher up.

The other cashiers are quite good at it- yesterday a girl was two cents short and asked whether it was okay or if she had to break a twenty and he just took the two dollars and 15 cents and counted them several times before informing her that the price was $2.17. I get a lot of tips for someone in a fast food place that doesn't have a tip jar... I think people appreciate that as long as they're there I'm going to focus on them, not on the touch screen.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


So at the hostel a guy wants to book for tonight with the option to call us and cancel and not get charged. So I told him we charge for cancellations with less than 48 hours notice and I'd need his cc number to hold the spot. He told me "you guys have it on file" and left. So I didn't book it. He came back to ask if I'd found his Nat Shermans and I told him that I hadn't and that we don't keep credit card numbers on file. So he left. Then he came back later with his credit card and once I entered his info he said "if I come in and cancel right at 5 you won't charge me?" so I told him if we don't sell the space we might not.

That's why you live at a hostel and with friends, dude. Because you have to process the things you hear and respond to them. There is basically no way around learning to do it.

It reminded me of one of the amazingly sweet artists in my foundation class, who made a painting reminiscent of the posters and album art of the 1960s. We said it looked like an acid trip and she said, "yeah, I was going to do scenes from my acid trip but it was too complex so I just did an impression." Which on the surface is really kind of funny, but also she is paying like 120k (if she only spends 4 years in college) for her art degree, and it kind of seems like she could trip on her couch maybe? At home? And someone could go to college who wanted to be something he couldn't either teach himself or learn at an artists village?


I don't know. I try not to get to far into worrying about social structures and political ideologies but I think I would be wholly in favor of a meritocracy.