Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Be My Guest

Bear With me, Ladies and Jelly-spoons. Give this a once over and lemme know what you think.

Be My guest
The People of the Hilton Garden Inn at Fishkill
By Jessica Manna
June 30, 2010

Potted plants, richly colored furnishings, high ceilings and lots of sunlight catch the eye first. It is pleasantly cool, and the lobby is almost as bright as the smiling face behind the front desk, greeting guests with a warm, “Hello! How can I help you?”

Behind the smile is full time student, nineteen year old Mary Walker. She wears the professional black and white, and not a hair is out of place. I discover that she is a Visual Arts major at Dutchess Community College and she is presently undecided in what she wants to do with her life.

“So the hotel is sort of a waypoint between where you are now, and what you want to do?” I ask, curious.

“Yeah, I guess you could say that. I needed a job, so I applied to all of the hotels in the area, and the Hilton hired me!” She responds, smiling still. “It’s kind of laid back, and I like sometime, when people are nice to you, knowing that you helped someone out. That you made a difference. Know what I mean?”

Mary helps a guest, directing them confidently up to the Wal-Mart, which is literally two parking-lots and a side street away. The Hilton Garden Inn receives a great deal of out-of-towners, brought into the area by an assortment of occasions. They have already had 9 wedding parties in the house since May began, and on a separate occasion, they hosted an entire tour-bus of Virginian Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“What do you find most challenging, then?” I ask her next.

Without hesitation, Mary answers, “trying to answer the phone that’s ringing before 3 times, having someone on hold AND checking a million people in at once.” She laughs, and as if on queue, the phone rings, and her signature answer: “Thanks for calling the Hilton Garden Inn, this is Mary how may I help you?”

As laid back as Mary tells me it is, there must also be stress involved. Upon further prying, I catch the Manager of Sales, Krista Borerro. She too, is continuing with her education, aiming for her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Literature. And despite her title and the eight years she has spent in the hotel business, she is only a springy 25 years old.

“I started out at the Hampton Inn doing front desk.” Krista begins to tell me. “I worked with a core group for about six or seven years until I came here and we just really had a great time. We would follow each other from place to place.” She smiles brightly.

“Sounds fun, so what’s the challenge in your department?” I ask.

“The stress of dealing with difficult people sometimes.” Krista nods decisively. “[They] basically want something for nothing…you have to constantly make sure that they’re satisfied.” Sighing, she thinks a moment and then adds, “And sometimes the mothers’ of the Brides we get. And Bridezillas.” We both laugh.

“Do you take anything away from this job? Anything that benefits your everyday life, maybe?” I continue my questions.

“[The job] helps me deal with every day situations in dealing with the public, adapting to situations and keeping my cool. It helps me to think ahead. Helps me to be personable and responsible.” Her smile widens before she finishes, “but I also worry a lot too, hoping that everything is going smoothly around me.”

After I ask her what the Hilton Garden Inn’s most prominent traveler is, she responds with a thoughtful expression. “I know that Hilton has a lot of resort hotels, but … I think more of corporate traveler, than let’s say, your leisure or weekends in the area. They want to check in, go upstairs, eat, sleep, maybe have a drink, and then check out at the crack of dawn. But we do get very busy in the summer with weddings in the area, which can be stressful.”

I am reminded of her ‘bridezilla’ comment and I smile, thanking her for her time. And before I depart, I catch the ear of the Executive Housekeeper, Shiela Volli. She’s spent 15 years in this business, starting her career in the Hampton Inn in Newburgh.

She graces me with some time during her cigarette break, and answers between inhales and exhales. Through conversation, I pick out a number of her duties as Executive Housekeeper, and the work load is impressive. Ms. Volli must stock each cart (one per housekeeper, a total of 8 on high volume days) to make sure they have enough shampoos, soaps, and linens. After that she checks each room that was not occupied the previous night to be certain it is clean before the Front desk assigns them to near arrivals. After that is done, hopefully the housekeepers have finished cleaning a few of the rooms from this morning’s checkouts. If so, she checks each of those thoroughly as well. If anything is amiss, she explains it to the housekeeper in question and then continues.

Aside from those day to day duties, Ms. Volli is also responsible for arranging the weekly schedule, doing monthly inventory, politely reminding guests that check out is at noon. She also has rank over the houseman, a fun-kind-of-wacky man who mops and cleans the Lobby area and the halls of each floor.

“It’s stressful. It really is.” She confides in me. “Sometimes I bring it home with me, which just stresses me out at my house.” She takes another drag.

“Do you find yourself checking your own room when you go off on vacation?” I ask, genuinely wondering how influenced she is by the job.

“Oh yeah. There was one place in Vermont that was really bad. Hair on the bathroom floors, garbage behind the dressers.” Ms. Volli nods as she looks at me intently.

“Did you say anything?” I wonder.

“No. No I never say anything. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. That’s not me.” She shakes her head enthusiastically, though smiling as she takes yet another drag.

“What do you like about this job?” I ask, hoping to lift her spirits.

“The staff. We have an excellent staff. Housekeepers, maintenance, front desk, and breakfast, all of us are really great people.” She lists them on her fingers. “We all get along. Everyone gets along.”

This short interlude with the employees at the Hilton Garden Inn at Fishkill reminds me of a book I read once. I had stayed in this exact hotel sometime last year, and had asked if I could pluck it from its usual place beside the bible. It is called “Be My Guest” and was written by Conrad Hilton himself. A quote that seems to infuse this modest 111 roomed hotel is, “live with enthusiasm.”

Mary Walker, Krista Borerro and Shiela Volli all live with a verdant love of life that reflects in their acts towards each guest that walks through the door. Each one of these ladies, though without direct intent, voices the Hilton motto, “Think big…act big…dream big.” In no other place can there be found a brighter, more pleasant group of people.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Late Nights

The hotel is rife with that non-chalant sort of pleasantness. People coming in and out with their own brand of plastic smile. Not that the sentiment isn't received well - we like the manners well enough - but sometimes it's just a bit too fake.

It's a different face, different hair color and eye color, different body type, gender, fashion sense, shoe style, luggage brand, polo shirt, blue-tooth earpiece, touch phone and laptop - but the same smile.

The thing I hate most about it, is that on occasion I find myself doing the same thing. And in cases like that, I have to dissapear to the back room and try to think of something nice.

Most of the times, it's something like, "I'm going home in [x] hours!" or "My Love is waiting for me!" or "I can go play video games later!" Things of that nature usually spark up a real smile. But what gets me a majority of the time are those people that smile back at you for real. Those down-to-earth types that are just happy to be here, out of their houses on vaccation, or on a trip to see friends, or just get a nice room. I know I've said it before, but it does need re-iterating.

Be happy when you go to a hotel. It is contagious. And you've never had service liek that from a happy front desk person. I tell you - It will change your whole experience. And mine too.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Titter Titter!

I don't know why I'M nervous. I'M not the one getting married tomorrow. Sure, I have to do my little part, take some pictures, and be there of course, but WHY am I nervous? Geez, I suppose what they say about excitement being contagious must be true.

Who wants to get married in this crowd? Any takers? Any star-struck couples romancing about a big party and fancy clothes? I'll admit, the girlish side of me really wants to just take the time to go nuts with making my own stuff - favors, invitations, color coordinating... but the practical side of me just cringes at the pricetag. Eventually, whenever I get into one of those moods though, both sides tend to come to a healthy compromise.

Being crafty can be cheap, and cheap is good! So I can imagine different dresses, color schemes and cake flavors all I want, but It's never particularly serious. I feel like if I start getting really deep into that phase, it's time for a hefty conversation with myself, weighing out the options. Perhaps I'm just a pessimist today - but just look around. How many young couples do you see? Getting engaged and rushing into it, all passion and exhuberance? The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world, about 5 out of every 1000 people get divorced. Call me paranoid, but why would I want that extra pressure on my life?

On the other hand, however, I'd probably be thrilled. To get married, I mean. The concept of vowing yourself to another and visa versa has a romantic thrill to it that is undeniable. And I think if you can make it through that you can do anything. And I'd like to think of my current situation able to accomplish anything.

So in conclusion - I think Marriage is a divine concept, however, perhaps not for me. Which isn't a bad thing at all. :) I am AMAZINGLY excited for those who are married - will be getting married - or are even thinking of it. I admire their devotion, I truly do! So to those about to VOW, I salute you!!

Congrats Mandy!


Sunday, June 13, 2010


I'm in a strange mood.

Perhaps I should preface this entry with a disclaimor: I did not sleep particularly well last night. I would have been fine if it was JUST the lightning and Thunder. But it seemed to spook the racoons in our walls. So they had a party. Not to mention I am an irresponsible adult and stayed up until 2. (Which was partially an accident, and partially atributed to my short attention span when I am delerious.)

IN any case: I am in a strange mood.

For some reason I cannot stop humming. I have gone through Jekyll & Hyde, Phantom and the Opera, Oklahoma, Singin' in the Rain, The Pirate, Kismet, All the disney movies I've ever seen, the songs I heard on the radio on the way here, and now I'm in the process of humming absolute nonsence as it comes to me. I kind of like it though. Don't know why.

Maybe it helps to drown out the business here. I can momentarily dissapear into my own little world as I staple together a reciept, charge some breakfast onto a room, check someone out, or smile at another stranger as they walk by and out of my life forever. I hum about how my glasses need to be cleaned, how my car needs to be fixed, how little Navvy opens his mouth to bite and just stares at you instead. How the screensaver on the computer next to me keeps cycling through the same Hotel Propoganda , and how I miss going to poetry readings. I hum about waking up this morning and how torturous it was for my shaking limbs to assemble themselves and work again. Then I hum about when I look over and kiss my love's forehead before I go to work.

:) I feel like today is going to be a good day. I like that.


Saturday, June 12, 2010


I had convinced myself that I had posted an entry last week about going on a set of trips. Apparently, that was merely a moment of sleep-deprived delusion, and I appologize for my absence.

*Edit* I just now, AFTER I posted this up, SAW the post that was labeled "Trips" n the fourth. This is a note to Self: Obtain more sleep.*

In any case, it is raining, and I watch it all from behind the front desk at the hotel. I am thankful that my windows are closed, and that my appartment will be temperate as opposed to gnarly hot and gross. But I digress.

Last week I took a trip to Albany to pick up a very dear friend from a bus-depot. The ride up was.... only a mild disaster. I was about an hour late because of some defective *coughmapquestcough* directions, and was near dying from heat and wind-blown hair. Oru's air conditioning, if I haven't mentioned it before, does not work. At all. No wait, that is a lie, it works, it blows out air - only it's not conditioned air. So ok it only HALF works.


I get to the bus station, and I take a walk inside, avoiding the looks from the locals hanging around, and trying to look like I belong there and exhude this "don't mess with me" vibe. I go inside and look around, make sure this is the RIGHT bus depot, and then even check out the ladies room to see if she's there. I find no sign, and alas, her phone is close to death. So I spend a few minutes circling the place, scouring the parkinglot, and moving my car to another entrance before I meander back inside. At that instant, I get a call from my friend, releving to me that she was in fact hiding in the ladies room to avoid awkward conversation with a total stranger. (Understandable.)

After I collect her and we gather in my car and manage to find our way to route 87, we chat and chat and chat. And one of the things I realize I love about her is that she and I have an uncanny knack of picking up conversations and running with them. Most ANYTHING we can think of we can discuss, in an acceptable, thought-provolking conversation. And the best part? It doesn't HAVE to be serious talk, and I don't feel like I HAVE to make her laugh, or I HAVE to make her think I'm smart - she knows exactly what and who I am, and I need no charade.

It's like the friend version of my Love. Someone to be my unbiased devil's advocate, without feeling like they have to be nice or I'll be mad at them or soemthing. (Lets face it, we all do that to our significant others. And it's not -I repeat- NOT a bad thing. It merely proves how much we want each other happy. That is my theory.)

In any case, I drove a lot that day, I roleplayed with my favorite people in the world, and went to sleep.

A day well spent.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I feel like this weekend has been a conglamoration of the worlds most presumptuous, clueless people on the planet. The few people who are not those things that have checked in, are pleasant as pie, don't get me wrong... but these other people just darken the whole lobby with their absolute idiocy.

No, really.

Example number 1 of the decline of the human race: Discourteous behavior, impatience, and superiority complex.

A gentleman walks in with another gentleman. There are three rooms under one name. However, there are also three rooms under this same name, as well as three separate guests within the reservation. (Not a difficult concept.) These two men decide they want to check in early. Unfortunately, as stated everywhere there's fine print, we do not guarantee an early checkin. And they did not call ahead either, as anyone at the front would have suggested they do. Instead, they ask, we say "We're very sorry, but your rooms aren't ready yet."

And this one guy, this idiot in a baseball cap, just gives us the most blank, lost stare I've ever seen. And after a second, he just starts shaking his head, and his stare turns from blank to disbelief, to offended. "Listen, there are 6 rooms under that name. We need the one for Corey and Andrew, ok?"

"I'm sorry sir, those rooms aren't ready."
"How about the ones under Joel?"
"Sir, those are the same rooms."
"They better not be the same rooms, we were told that there were six rooms."
"Yes. We know. We have them all right here."
"Then what's the problem?"
"It's currently 12pm. Checkin isn't until 3, and I'm afraid, though we would normally accomodate you if we could, we cannot because your rooms are not ready yet."
"Well why not?"
"Well, sir, we were rather busy last night, and since checkout isn't until 12, there are still many rooms that need to be cleaned. Including yours."

And then the man just turned around and started to walk away. And my co-worker - GOD bless her spunky little heart - called out, "Can I help you with anything else, sir?"

And he turned, attitude right on his heels and said, "Is ther ea room ready?"

"NO sir."

"Then you can't do anything for me, can you?" And he turned again and walked out, leaving a trail of embarrassed family members in his wake.


Why are people so irrevocably Stupid?

Note to the general populace: Sitting there and bitching isn't going to get the room clean any sooner, the breakfast to stay open later, or the pool water to be warmer or colder. It's probably going to be detrimental to any of those effects just out of spite.

You've been warned.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Note to Self:

  • Oru does not make a good navigator for Oru.
  • ALWAYS bring a third party with you when dropping a friend off at a place you're never been.
  • Back roads of Woodstock are a mite creepy at night. Therefore, don't forget extra batteries for your disc-man-turned-car-radio for the ride home.
  • Googlemaps over Mapquest ANY DAY.
  • Bus depots are amazingly sketchy places.
  • Take advantage of rest stops!
  • When driving through Kingston, go durring the day if you are unfamiliar with the area. And remember - ask the gents outside the PUBS, not the ones walking down ally-ways for directions.
  • If it takes an hour to get somewhere, and you know for a fact your self-navigation skills are somewhat lacking - give yourself an hour and a half at least instead.
  • When travelling alone, walk with confidence and a bit of a devil-may-care slouch. And apparently, if someone randomly starts to talk to you, escape to the restroom of your choice. And then remain there until you are rescued.
  • When travelling long distances, in the summer, in a car with no operational air conditioning unit, REMEBER: It is imperative to bring a new change of clothes. Or sit in your underwear. Whichever is more comfortable for you, I suppose.

Friday, June 4, 2010


So My plan is this. My love expressed an interest in 'just going' somewhere. Picking a direction and heading in it. So I naturally took a few days off to accomodate for that during out one year anniversary. (I'm not usually one for keeping track of these things, but it seemed like a big deal.) What I plan to do is throw some of his clothes in a bag, abduct him and throw 'North', 'West', 'East' and 'South' into a hat and make him pick. So that trip? Not sure how it'll turn out, but I will be sure to stop slacking and put it up here for you to speculate on.

And today I have another trip. I am picking up my very bestest friend from a train station in Albany. (Or is it a bus depot? I forget.) In any case, I plan to head off straight from work, and pick her up and then moey on down back in this direction. It still waits to be discerned if I will be showing the appartment off to her, considering she needs to get to Woodstock at the end of the day - And I have to juggle picking my love up from work...

But I like being busy. Going on trips. It has been far too long since I just decided to do something BECAUSE I wanted to. Everything recently has been wearing a pricetags around their necks, and it's gotten so huge that I can't even SEE what it was I wanted to do past the cost. It's about time I found a way around it and enjoye whatever time I have left.

Wow that sounded ominous.

In any case - short trip today, Long trip Sunday. Or Monday. Has yet to be decided. And the verdicts (As well as any funny stories) will no doubt be related to you here!