Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Coming soon to a college perhaps near you (A CM playlet)

Scene: lobby of 3-year old suites hotel serving as home base during discouraging visit to ailing parents. Your correspondent is using the guest computer to check in for an early flight.

A large, red-faced man (LRFM) is demanding a room switch due to broken air conditioning.  The night clerk apologizes that there are no other rooms available. LRFM announces that he is a special case because his son needs to sleep after traveling 6 hours; the son is visiting schools tomorrow.

Your correspondent pauses at the keyboard.

LRFM is incredulous that there are no vacancies in this (mutter) place on a Wednesday night. Actually, there are five, but all are reserved, and none match the type of suite he reserved.

LRFM:  And you're just going to let the rooms go empty? How long are you going to hold them?

A couple enter the lobby and check in. Now there are four rooms.

LRFM demands the clerk's business card. She doesn't have one; she just works part time. Would he like to speak to the manager? Yes, but she's just gone home and it will be a few minutes before they can reach her. He demands her cell phone number. Desk clerk calmly refuses and offers to get him a reservation at another hotel. He goes ballistic and demands that she give the manager his cell phone number. Manager is reached, speaks to man over hotel phone, and refuses to call him on his cell.

LRFM walks towards your correspondent, muttering about "this shithole hotel" as if he expects agreement.

PG: I've been staying here a few times a year since they opened. It's a nice place, and I'm always grateful when my plane gets in late and they honor my reservation.

LRFM:   Well, I spend almost half a billion dollars a year at Marriotts.

PG: Good for you. Does that give you the right to be an asshole?

CAPTAIN SUBTEXT:  If you're so rich, what are you doing at  a Marriott?

LRFM:  You lead a sad, sad life.

PG:  No, I lead a very happy life.

CAPTAIN SUBTEXT: Particularly right now.

LRFM:  You don't even know what's going on. I happen to not like a hot room. Does that make me an asshole?

PG:  No, that's not the reason. That poor woman at the counter deserves better treatment.

LRFM: The manager won't even take my cell phone number and call me back.

PG:   I don't call students on my cell because then they can get my number through caller ID.

LRFM:   What are you trying to hide?

PG:  My number, from stalkers.  

CAPTAIN SUBTEXT: And from asshole parents like you.

LRFM:   You really are a sad, sad person. Where do you even teach? I feel sorry for your students.  Son, if you encounter people like this woman, just ignore them.

SON OF LRFM: Where do you even teach? I feel sorry for your students. What school is that? I wouldn't take that from a teacher.

PG:  Good night.


Tomorrow I fly across the continent to my home state and leave the father and son to select a school where I don't teach. Did I mention I'm a happy, happy Proffie G?  Is that wrong?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. He was large but not more overweight than most Americans. He was red-faced, and his insufferable sense of entitlement was making his part of the world miserable. I predict his son will, too.

    2. Really? That's what you take away from this story? Nothing about the parent's behavior, or the student's? Really?

      --Jess, who is fat and has a higher-than-average sensitivity to fat-shaming, but...really?

    3. Maybe it's because I'm a fat person short enough that I'm unlikely to be called "big," even as a euphemism for my horizontal dimensions, but that never crossed my mind. I was picturing a male enough larger in one or more dimensions than some of the other key players in the drama for indications that he might lose control at some point (e.g. the red face) to be a bit alarming.

    4. Yup, I was also picturing "large" as in, you know, large. As in, tall, broad-shouldered, barrel-chested, etc etc with a physique that usually empowers one to "push their weight around" like a bully, if they're that kind of asshole. With the descriptor "large and red-faced", however, I am more apt to picture a British dude on holiday in Alicante or Benidorm, rather than an American one...

    5. Please, give me a break. This was a comic text. Comedy cannot exist without stereotypes because it is, ultimately, allegory. And the big-fat American is an allegory of unchecked and unvirtuous power, as the college professor is the allegory of clueless wisdom and the general of boisterours stupidity -- Pantalone, il Professore, il Capitano.

    6. Cassandra and Prof. Poopiehead have it on the nose. And I am honored that my attempt at comedy merits a French deconstruction.

  2. Thankfully, my school employs some great guys in the facilities department for our HVAC systems. If Junior ends up here, he will not sleep in a room warmer than 76 F. Problem avoided.

    1. Whatever would we do without the skilled crafts folks?

    2. Do you think they'd like to take a road trip to fiddle with the system in my building?

      Actually, we've got pretty good (and willing, and often apologetic) HVAC techs, too; we've just got a really old building that was scheduled to be gutted and redone several years ago, except the recession hit, and, besides, they had to build more fancy dorms and dining halls and gyms.

  3. In case we ever needed to wonder where the studentflakes learn it. Which, you know, we didn't.

    I work in financial aid, and parents frequently begin (begin!) a phone conversation with me by stating "I pay $60,000 a year for my child to attend your school, and I expect...". These parents' kids are inevitably polite and friendly to the financial aid office staff; rather than address any disagreements with us directly, the kids take one step out of the office, pull out the cell phone, call Mommy, and Mommy takes it from there. Sigh.

  4. Here's the problem: The person behind the desk should have been empowered by management to just go ahead and make the man and his brat a reservation at another hotel.

    If they have no rooms available, and they do not intend to fix the a/c, and this guy is unwilling to be civil, then that part-time employee should have the authority to say, "Gee, sir, I am so sorry we cannot accommodate you. I am going to get on the phone RIGHT NOW and call that hotel down the street and see if they CAN accommodate you."

    Then let the blowhard take it from there. Because he was never going to be happy, and he openly tried to irritate another guest, and it would be good business (in my world, at least) to MAKE HIM GO AWAY.

    Also, the clerk never, ever, ever should have mentioned there were similar rooms on reserve. Offer him what you DO have, or say nothing and find him accommodations elsewhere. He does have a reasonable expectation of proper climate control... But honesty never seems to be a good policy in customer service anymore, especially when dealing with irate rude people.

  5. I just love it when some young dipshit thinks he's my "customer". Because then I have all the room and reason in the world to prove to him what he really is: my bitch.

  6. This is a case where the lead-weighted pool cue is your friend.

    The large red-faced man sound like an American variation of the sort of mafiya sleaze that became the Russian Novii Rizhe; bossy pricks driving German SUVs, wearing badly cut suits of good material, $50k watch on the wrist, vacant-eyed hooker/girlfriend riding shotgun. Like an evil matryoshka doll, bullshit within horsecrap within bullshit, smaller and denser every iteration.

    Fuck 1991.

  7. Thanks, everybody, for your comments and support. I was choking with frustration and knew that telling my husband would have resulted in his just telling me to mind my own business. Writing this instead was sweet catharsis.

    I talked to the desk clerk afterwards, apologizing if my engaging the guy had made things worse for her. She in turn apologized to me that the guy had treated me badly.

    Then we had a great conversation. She thanked me over and over for calling him an asshole; she'd turned around and pumped her fist with a big, silent "YES!"

    She's a single mom and, while much shorter than him, was not intimidated, just weary of him the moment he started arguing. She had immediately tried to make him go away by suggesting he check out and accept a reservation that she would make elsewhere (at the worst hotel in the area). She also had offered to call for AC repair, but didn't know how soon they could fix the problem (it being 10:30 pm). The guy seemed to be rejecting such offers as part of a ploy to get a significant room upgrade.

    So I took her name and some pertinent details, and have written to the hotel management about her calm, professional manner in response to a belligerent, abusive customer. If the LRFM also sends a letter, I hope the chain will look into whether he has a history of room upgrades.

    As for the son, we (and by "we" I mean you) had better start carrying a lead-weighted pool cue to class.

  8. It must have been incredibly satisfying for the clerk to hear you call him an asshole. Imagine if someone showed up to call our students assholes when they act like this. Gold medal for valor to Proffie Galore!!