Sunday, April 16, 2006

Week In Review

Happy Easter!

It has been a fairly happy Easter with happy endings to most troubles I had at the start of the week. I hadn't realized it had been this long since my last entry, so I'll try to catch up.

Saturday, April 8
I don't really remember much of this day beyond hotel drama which I will call Black Ops. Black Ops always have a lesson, usually for other people. Today's lesson: the 270-lbs man knows better than your absent friend whether it's his truck you're rummaging through.

Sunday, April 9
While at the house I overheard my mother making plans to take a 4-day weekend and visit my ailing grandmother. My mom is usually very strict about showing up for work, and when I heard my aunt was heading out from PA as well, alarms went off.

I hadn't seen my grandmother in over ten years, since her health and the cost of visiting Humboldt Bay got in the way. By adding Friday to my scheduled days off, furious calls back and forth, and maxing out my credit cards during three hours of internet research, I had a round-trip lined up.

Monday, April 10
A day like a Dashiell Hammett novel.

I'm told that all fish in distress emit chemicals of fear and pain that sharks can sense through the pores of their skin from up to a mile away. Perhaps human weirdos have the same ability to sense fatigue in hotel clerks. All I know is, when I work beyond 9 hours they come to me sure as bear to spawning salmon.

My relief called off thirty minutes into the next shift. Nobody else could take it. The manager called off sick. It was up to me, on four hours sleep, to do a double.

Black Ops...Black Ops Lesson for the Day: like I told the 270-lbs man, if she actually could take down the owner and the clerk she could stay here forever; it's the failed attempt that got her booted.

Punched out 17.75 hours after punching in, got a quart of beer and a sandwich for the present and 12 cans of Mountain Dew for later. Snoozed in a vacant room for five hours and started another 8-hour shift.

Tuesday, April 11
Punched out on time, got another quart of beer and returned to my comped room for another forced snooze. Woke after three hours, and left to get more sleep at home.

Couldn't. Probably a lesson here about turning yourself into a Miller High Life/Moutain Dew/Venti-Americano cocktail.

Punched in eleven hours after I woke up, for another full shift. I fortified myself with another twelve cans of the Dew. My luck that nobody tried to buy a room or book a reservation; it would have been interesting.

Wednesday, April 12
Punched out and drove home to pack. Kept awake at the wheel by slapping the back of my neck, hard. Somehow I packed the right ratio of shoes and socks and underwear and shirts and pants and my paralegal reading and my boarding passes and toiletries. All fit nicely into my 1997 UCR duffle, one of the great unexpected values of my life. Drove to the house and let The Yell Sr. do the driving to the airport.

The engines on the wing of a Boeing 737 wiggle.

My outfit of blue jeans and blue shoes and blue socks and a blue shirt and a blue tie and a blue sweater and my LA Dodgers cap on the streets of downtown San Francisco drew no comment at all, possibly because I was the only schmuck in the Bay Area without a poncho or umbrella. More probably, they didn't dare notice.

I sat across from very loud people whose disgust with Greyhound, its drivers, and its timetable, grows more intolerable each week that they use it.

Thursday, April 13
Woke early to be conveyed to see Grandma by my uncle. She was in a great deal of pain from unexplained internal bleeding. Whenever her saline drip lost flow she would spasm and writhe. That happened three times in two hours I visited. She was very happy to see me though.

My uncle, a lifelong Democrat and lumber union activist, argued politics with me. We found some common ground but failed to agree on just how wrong President Bush's immigration plans, and the modern environmental lunatic fringe, could be. (Not that either of us thought they were right, you understand.)

I spent a few hours talking with Grandma's husband Dan, a TSgt in the 8th Army Air Force. I hadn't realized that battle stars affected their pay; or that they were compelled to tote their assigned sidearm outside of their bunks for fear of German paratroops. Dan was lucky to be assigned the Colt .45; some poor joes had to tote a Thompson to the latrine. Dan hates the .45 Colt for this reason, which is ironic since my friends would gladly pay to be permitted to wear a Colt into the john. (I suspect some of them do so without authorization, but I welcome a sense of mystery on the subject and all related topics.)

Uncle Dick took me to lunch at the marina in Eureka, where I sampled my first oysters. They are the zucchini of the sea! I dislike zucchini.

After I woke myself snoring, we agreed to adjourn for the afternoon, and after another visit to Grandma, met up with my two cousins. Big Louie's is the place for pizza if you're in Eureka--you'll recognize it as the building with the lights on at 9pm. I recommend the NorthCoast organic porter, which is smooth as root beer and very dangerous.

While I slept, the alternate night auditor decided that her last week would end a little sooner than scheduled, and my poor coworkers had to split the graveyard three ways.

Friday, April 14
On the bus I sat next to a very nice Oakland native named Shandrelle, and a lady from Maryland who let us all know that everything is totally screwed by Bush, the Catholics, the Jews, and the corporations. I don't see how you can be angry that there's too much farmland being given to suburbs and that there's not enough housing to go around, but she was. The three of us got off the bus at Oakland, since Shandrelle pointed out that we could just travel BART from Oakland to Oakland International instead of riding into San Francisco and crossing the Bay. Shandrelle saw us off at the BART and I carried bags for the Gauche Crusader for another half-hour. It was Good Friday, after all.

I was sporting the Dodger blue again. No comments from anybody. I saw a weightlifter in the orange-and-black SF cap whose black Tee bore the orange motto DODGERS SUCK.
He didn't see me.
He didn't hear me.
He didn't feel his girl nudge him and point at me.
He passed three feet away from my grinning puss, totally oblivious.

Bet you thought I was joking about nobody daring to notice me on Wednesday?

I hit SoCal about 10pm and got my things and hit the hotel, ready to roll for the bulk of graveyard after a short nap. Of course I'd be fine. No problem. Easier for me than anybody else.

They couldn't wake me and they had to work it themselves anyhow.

Saturday April 15
Got up at noon and slept most of the day.

Black Ops Lesson of the Day: after you beg a hotel clerk to save you from the carload of vatos you challenged, you can't intimidate him with mad-dog glares.

Sunday April 16
Got word that our regular day clerk is back from a month's leave, ending any real danger of double-shifts or turnarounds.

Got word that Grandma's bleeding has been stopped and she's off the cruel hoses and back at home.

Sat down in church for an imminent Spanish-language service; realized I was too tired to grapple with a Mass in a language I don't speak. I left-patting my pockets furiously as cover--and tried to find night services anywhere before stumbling to the 9am English service. Thank God I snapped fully awake during the readings and even sang clearly.

Had two three-hour naps during the day and started work comfortably.

This was Easter when I started and I'll just post it before I start my audit.

Black Ops Lesson for the Day: if you want to buy the room that your pals were thrown out of yesterday, rehearse your lies in the parking lot first.

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