June 21st, 2010

It’s a sad and exciting time here at our little hotel. To be honest, we’re just not so used to turnover. People will move around a little bit, sure. Sammy used to prepare the food at night, now he prepares the drinks. Jerry went from bartender to Director of Sales and Marketing. Adam does something different everyday. Internal movement is fine, it breaks up any potential monotony, lets people broaden their resumes and still stay in the family. I guess we try not to think so much of why they they’ll want those resumes, focusing instead on how cool and multi-skilled our family has become over the years.

But now, suddenly, we’ve been blindsided. This month will see the departure of two managers. Two. How will we even recognize ourselves come August?

Panic, however, is not the solution. And so, with the idea that talking helps in times of crisis, I am going to tell you who is leaving and why, and who will replace who and why. That’s right, in true California style, the next pages will be devoted to processing our losses, coming to terms with impermanence and trying to understand the finite nature of all human connection. But I also promise debaucherous stories of drinking and gambling, so don’t leave me!

Let’s start with Mike Pinsel. Leaving after only (three?) years, it would seem as if we had barely enough time to get to know him. But, considering that he was given a room at the hotel when he was first hired, just until he found a place for himself, and then never left, he managed to accumulate hours a little faster than the average employee. Add to that his unquenchable thirst for staff gossip and one can begin to understand how Princess Pencil, as he is every so often referred to, fully knew and was known in such a comparatively brief little wisp of time.

But lest, in the wake of his departure, you should think about a nickname like “Princess,” or maybe stumble on a facebook group called “I hate Pinsel,” I will tell you now that he leaves with all our love and support. Well, support is maybe a strong word, but we are doing our best to understand that he needs to go, finally, and give into his true calling, at least for a while. And so, Mike Pinsel leaves us to become a professional poker player. He’s not going far. If ever you should miss him, he’ll be just down the street at Garden City. The question is, who, now, will step up and give a curious but reticent general manager her daily update on the love lives of her staff?

It’s also true that we lose a little bit of our cool when we say goodbye to the princess. A professional poker player, after all, is pretty hot. But, fear not, we’ve found a way to replenish the cool deficit with his replacement. What hotel do you stay at (sad as it is to think of you in any other but ours) that can boast of mother and daughter managers? Maybe not so many. Perhaps not any. Until now, that is.

Laura has been our housekeeping manager since round about the time when her daughter, Liliana, was learning to write her name. A couple of weeks after little Lili was big enough to not need daycare, she started working at the front desk. Since then she’s graduated high school, been to college. She even left us for a little while; a little youthful rebellion I guess. And now she’ll be our front desk manager. I like to think of mother and daughter managers together in a managers’ meeting. They get along extraordinarily well, is the thing, so they could be like a team, where everyone else is an individual. Subtly threaten the general manager’s authority. Could be good fun ahead!

But looking back for just another moment, we have also to say goodbye to Aaron, our reservations manager. After 13 years. Truly we lose a brick out of our foundation when Aaron goes, and yet he is making the right choice. He’s been here with us since he graduated from high school, working his way in and around just about every position we had to offer him. He has said that this was his college and, as such, he fully completed his course work. He went from the front desk to reservations to manager, was taken on business trips, organized events. He even moved into the hotel for a brief little moment. But he also deferred his graduation for quite a while, knowing that he had come here to prepare himself for something else, but unsure quite what that something was. Earlier this year he took a second job, working something like 12-hour days on the weekends. He was very optimistic at first, but when he started posting on facebook the number of days he’d worked without one off, we knew it was not the solution he was looking for. I think we all started preparing ourselves to say goodbye around then, even though it was the weekend job he let go of in that moment.

This, I guess, is the reality of a young staff. Mostly they are preparing for their lives and, so, will eventually be prepared and leave. I guess we got Aaron for a little longer than we, or he, expected. The work is to appreciate what’s there and not always have to long for more. This is some heavy life stuff here.

His replacement will be Jazz. It’s just fun to write about Jazz, I don’t care what he’s doing. Jazz has already been the sales manager for meetings and events for the last few years, plus he is manager (and sole member) of our IT team, so this is kind of a lateral move for him, probably just our dear general manager trying to stump him a bit because if he stays comfortable too long he gets smug. How could he not? His name is Jazz. Jazz is a slick character and someday he will leave us and make millions of dollars, probably doing something that will improve the general quality of the world, but don’t tell him I said that. Humility is not among his many natural gifts.

Taking over Jazz’s old management position will be Jonathan. The last time I wrote to you about Jonathan, he was en route to becoming a police officer. Had he stuck to that plan, he would have been done and gone long ago. When I talked to him back then he was very idealistic about his future career, full of all the fantasies of being a good cop that had stayed with him since childhood. Little by little, however, he started getting disillusioned. It takes a strong character to really scrutinize an old dream, and then to walk away from it, and this is exactly what Jonathan did. He’s taking business classes now, a little uncertain about how to proceed. Sad to say it, but we’re just the littlest bit happy for his existential crisis. The longer he wavers, the longer we’ve got with him and he is exactly the kind of caring, thoughtful person we rely on to keep the core of our hotel intact.

And now, just to change the subject for one moment, I would like to acknowledge how good it is that we say bellman now, instead of bellboy. I do have two questions though. First, why, given that a moderately strong woman can easily lift more than a moderately weak man, are there never any bellwomen? My spell check won’t even accept that that’s a word! Second, and this is perhaps more immediately pertinent, why is it that, although the head of every other department in the hotel is called “manager,” the head bellman is “captain”? I see nothing significantly militaristic in their duties. It’s true that a captain is many steps below a general, whereas manager seems only a little half step away from general manager. Is that it? Just a way of clearly saying that even though a man may be the boss of all the bellman, still his place is low?

Well, the next man who gets to negotiate that question around here will be Jesse Hicks. Jesse is easygoing, super relaxed and I would imagine that it would never occur to him to feel the imbalance of his title. What’s nice about Jesse is that he makes people laugh; people look forward to him being around and, for his part, he says that the best part of his job is the community. He’s pretty young and hasn’t been manager, or captain, of anything yet. It will be nice to see how the responsibility opens him.

So, that’s it. That’s what’s happening around here. We’re a little emotional, so don’t be shy with your hugs this month. And we promise to try not to cry when you leave, though even the most normal goodbyes are proving kind of challenging just now. Making reservations for your next visit as you check out helps. Just so you know.

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