Friday, July 25, 2014

What's the number?

Yesterday I walked into the back office at one of my hotels to discover my general manager and two front desk agents in an absolute panic. The general manager was trying to get hold of the corporate office, I asked what the problem was and this was the conversation that transpired.

GM: We went to the gas station as we have to fill up the shuttle for our guests and we don't have the number that is needed to get gas.

FD1: We put the card in and it asks for a number.

Me: Your driver ID, that number?

FD2: No, we have that number, we need the other number.

GM: I am trying to call corporate because they never gave us the other number.

Me: Wait, so when you put in the card it asks for a number?

FD1: Yes the one before the driver number.

Me: You mean the ODOMETER?

All of them together: Yes, that number, corporate didn't give us that number.

Me: *crickets* *Guppy Fish Mouth Movements*

For the record, I did not hire these people.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chaos and Calm.

It has been over a month since I started my new job and it has been stressful, entertaining, mind boggling, hysterical, head banging, ass kicking and with a few WTF faces thrown in for good measure.

The little red KIA and I have been doing lots of miles between Colorado and Nebraska. My iPhone is filled with podcasts and my music playlist grows larger everyday. I have encountered a tornado, actually was in between two, and that experience I never wish to repeat, but seeing as though my route is I-80 where tornadoes like to hangout, I guess it won't be my last.

I have worked 17 hour days, had a General Manager quit 15 minutes before we were about to take on a Million dollar account. I've had to fire a General Manager and work longer days because the staff wanted to teach me a lesson by walking out. I have dealt with stupid people, lots and lots of stupid people. I have encountered rude, drunk, ignorant guests. I have met scammers and con-men. I have been given a few hotels in a town that has a population of 18,119 people and where 13 meth labs were raided last year. I have been given the criteria to make sure that the people I hire have all their teeth. Yes, ponder on that one for a moment.

I fall into bed exhausted everyday and wake up with the chickens. I am learning to live out of a suitcase and finally bought a corkscrew and a wine glass. My days mesh together that I sometimes don't know what day of the week it is. Last week my body had enough and one of my General Manager's had to drive me to urgent care where I was given a shot of the good drug and ordered to stay in bed for the rest of the day.

One criteria I had when I took this job was that when I felt the need to take a break I could fly home for a few days. I have just spent 5 wonderful days in Oregon where I did the things that I love and have missed. I cooked great meals. I drank excellent wine. I went for long walks on the beach. I watched the fireworks from the beach. I visited breweries, the good ones.  I played backgammon and won. I read a book. I laughed. I cried. I reflected.

As I sit on the bed in another hotel room, in a different city, I am grateful for the past month and what I have learned from it. I have learned that I am strong. That it is okay to be alone. That there are people out there cheering for me to succeed and alas those waiting for me to fail. I have learned that my wingman will always be there, no matter what the turmoil of the day may be. I have learned that the employee's that earn the least are the happiest. I have learned that I am quite the salsa dancer with guidance from my housekeeping staff. I have learned that the saying "Keep Calm and Carry On" does not apply to me in a tornado situation. I have learned that no matter what the day may have in store for me I will always look for the beauty and the calm amidst the chaos.

At the end of the day before sleep takes over I count my blessings and that no matter what the next day brings there will be at least one person out there that will give me another great story to tell.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

That's Not My Job.

I have been at my new job since the 19th May and intensely busy would be the only words I have to describe how it has been and that would also be because my brain is on overload so words don't come easy right now. I am almost at that point of being found sitting in a corner, drooling and rocking back and forth.

I have been given six hotels to manage and five of them are migraine inducing with a total of roughly about 170 staff members all having their way of doing things and not without many complaints.  There was a day that I had to hide in my hotel room so that I could get reports done and just try and regroup.

In doing an assessment of what level everyone is at, I have been surprised (I really should not be) at how many staff members have thrown each other under the bus. One of the phrases I have heard the most these past three weeks is "That's not my job." I think I need to turn it into a drinking game, but becoming an alcoholic is not something I plan on being any time soon.

I have dealt with disgruntled employees, unhappy guests because you were unable to move heaven and earth for them, water pipes bursting, staff members smoking pot on their breaks because in Colorado it is legal so they feel they can, swimming pools that won't co-operate and General Managers leaving property and their staff at peak busy times.

The one shining light is that one of the hotels I have would be the hotel I helped with last year - the hotel where the staff fondly named me Ninja Bitch. I 'm now known as Boomerang Bitch. I love having Zac back on my team and he has been wonderful in helping me with pool, heaters, network printers and security camera issues. His hotel is two hours north of where I currently am so I have bribed him with food and beer.

I have found a way to escape the craziness. When it all gets too overwhelming I go to the hotel kitchen and start washing the dishes from either a banquet or the restaurant. At that point I am the highest paid dishwasher the company has. This mindless, soothing, job is what helps me escape and in my mind seeing dirty dishes become clean gives me a huge sense of accomplishment.

There is so much to be done and I know that I can do the job, I just need to tackle one little piece at a time and there have been a few days where I will have an employee in my office asking for something to be done and just for once I would love to say "That's not my job."

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Thank you Elisa for my beautiful affirmation bangle. 

While living in Corvallis I attended a local art fair and discovered Saucy Jewelry. I was leaving the following week to visit friends in England and I found an affirmation bangle for my friend Lisa which said "She thought she could so she did." Lisa was going through a tough time and I wanted her to have something that she could look at everyday and keep her motivated and moving forward.

There wasn't any phrase that Elisa had that really stuck out for me, so I didn't buy an affirmation bangle for myself at that time.

These past few months have been a tough one for me and it has been a huge learning curve for me not only about people, but mostly about myself. A few weeks ago I was reading a book on codependency as I was trying to figure out why did I think that it was okay to allow people to treat me in a less than favorable manner.

I post daily affirmations on my G+ account and was trying to find something one day on codependency. When I pulled up the images the first one that popped up was "Examine what you tolerate." This was profound. I sat staring at the screen for a while and just let those four words sink in. "Examine what you tolerate."

I have thought about those four words every day since discovering them and then that light above my head moment happened and I knew I finally had the words for my affirmation bangle. I contacted Elisa at the beginning of this week and yesterday when I got back to the condo a package was waiting for me. My bangle was here.

There are some that may think it silly to rely on an object to keep one moving forward, but at this point of my life and learning that it's okay to be me, I really don't care what people think. What matters is me and my inner peace and calm and when the next person that treats me in that unfavorable manner I will look down at my wrist and glance upon the words on my bangle and then slowly walk away.

Please visit Elisa at Saucy Jewelry and see all the wonderful pieces she makes. Click on the link here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Against All Odds.

My beautiful sister Rosie.

It was a very cold, winters day on the 15 January 1996. I was sitting in my living room planning my 30th Birthday party when I received a phone call from my Father. My sister Rosie and her husband Andrew were involved in a very serious car accident. Rosie had died at the scene, but was revived by the paramedics. She was on life support and in a coma and I was to get back to South Africa as soon as possible. My Mother and oldest sister were in Hawaii so the scramble for flights to get back home was intense.

The flight back to South Africa felt like it was by far the longest trip I had ever taken in my life. Sitting on the plane I made bargains with God if He could keep Rosie alive for us to see her and probably get to say goodbye. Trevor's pediatrician's concern was that ICU is not a place for a child to be in, as it is nothing like they portray on television. I geared myself up for the worst and that if I saw Trevor in distress I would take him from the room.

My Father picked us up from the airport and we were taken to the hospital immediately. Walking through the stark hospital passage was surreal. My feet felt as though they were made of lead and my stomach was a sailor's knot. I held Trevor tightly and we walked into the room. I didn't recognize my sister. The only way I can describe the way her head looked is to compare her to an alien. You know those cartoon alien head drawings where the chin is small and the brain is large? That was how she looked. Trevor was in my arms and he wanted to give Aunty Losie (he couldn't pronounce his r's yet) a kiss. When I held him towards her his eyes got big and he had a look of fear on his face. It was then that I remembered what the pediatrician had said. The machines frightened him and it was at the point that my brother took him out of the room. I sat and held my sisters hand and begged her to open her eyes.

The days crawled by and after a while Rosie woke up. The paramedics who saved her life went to visit her as they couldn't believe she had survived. I remember one paramedic said that seeing this miracle is why he does his job. It was very touching to see grown men tear up when they saw her.

Rosie was awake, she was talking, laughing and it was amazing to see. What we all didn't see was the traumatic injury she had to her brain. Her memory was gone. She recognized her immediate family, but couldn't remember anything beyond that. Rosie's frustration became very evident after a while when she would constantly remind us "I don't remember that." When she ate an orange she couldn't believe the taste and exclaimed how incredibly delicious this fruit was. I told her that she ate them all the time to which she responded "I don't remember that."

It was time for Trevor and I to head back to the States and it was hard to say goodbye, but the relief that my sister was going to live was an intense calm. Living with a person who has TBI is difficult not only for the family, but for the person with the injury. When you look at Rosie you see an amazing woman, but what you don't see is the bandage around her brain. My Mother and older sister went through a lot at that time and everyone was learning how to deal with the new Rosie.

So in honor of World Brain Injury Day I honor my sister. Rosie there are not enough words in the dictionary to describe how grateful, blessed and honored I am to have you as my sister. You rock. We take for granted every day that we have our memories of our childhood, friends, experiences, travels, but when that is suddenly taken away from you I cannot even begin to fathom what that must be like. My sister has had many surgeries since the accident, enough that would discourage anyone, but not my beautiful sister. She is the most amazing person I know. Her attitude about life and her inner calm is an inspiration to me. She is very logical, too logical sometimes. I believe that there is a reason why she was given a second chance and I would selfishly like to think it was to help me through so many of my dark days. Rosie and Andy have an amazing son who is the light of their life and has his mother's sass.

My favorite part of conversations with Rosie are when she points out my fault in handling a certain situation, but when I remind her that she would do the same, her sassy, true to form, eye rolling response is "I don't remember that."