Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cold Tuesday

Last night was another slow night at the hotel where I work the front desk from 3 to 11, Mondays and Thursdays. There were only three guests in the hotel; a confused elderly couple from New York and a Dutch national who is working at the Georgetown airport. With only two rooms rented, last night was a long night. I almost wished for those nights when the hotel had a stedy flow of guests in and out and asking the same questions at the front desk such as:

“Where do I park?” – outside in the parking lot
“Where is the best place to eat?” – The Buttery, The Second Street Grill, Stripper Bites, Cafe Azafran, Beseme, Jerry's Seafood...take your pick
“How far to the ocean?” one mile to the bay – the Atlantic Ocean is at Cape Henlopen, drive east until you hit the water....you're there.
“How do I get there?” out the front door to the light, over the canal street bridge one mile
“Is there parking?” yes, at the end of the road where the beach meets the water
“How much?” I don’t know, they keep raising it - take a lot of quarters
"What is my room number?" the number is on your key, that's not a decoration
“How do I get to my room?” – the elevator behind you
“Where is the elevator?” - turn around, it is behind you
“Where is the ice machine?” - turn around and to your left where it says "Ice" on the door
“Do you have a soda machine?” Yes
“Where is your soda machine” Opposite the front desk where you’re standing where it says "Soda" on the door
“How do I get to The Buttery?” Out the front door to the right one block then left - they have a big sign that says "The Buttery" - you can't miss it
“How far to The Buttery?” one and a half blocks
"How do I get there?" walk, put one leg in front the other and before you know it, you're there
"How is the food?" Gawd awful. What do you expect me to say? It's good (and expensive)
“What time is checkout?” 11 AM
“Can I have a late checkout?” No
"Why can't I have a late checkout?" because we have to have time to clean the rooms for the next guest who wants an early check in like you did when you made your reservation
“Why is that siren going off?” It is the fire alarm for the local fire company
“Do you have tornadoes in this area?” No, we’re not in Kansas...... anymore .....Toto
“Who has the best crab cakes?” Gilligan’s (so they tell me)
“How long has this building been here?” I don’t know, ask the owner
“What time is breakfast?” 8 to 10
“How do I get to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry?” out the front door to the light then left to the Dairy Queen then a right one mile and the Ferry is on your left – YOU CAN’T MISS IT – THEY HAVE BIG SIGNS

Oh how I miss those days with the helpless guests. The owner of the hotel told me he witnessed the phenomenon of otherwise intelligent people who are struck dumb upon entering the hotel and become helpless. But then that’s why I’m behind the front desk. I’m there to help them. I don't get paid the big bucks for looking pretty. However, there are times I must admit when my patience runs short after answering the same inane questions over and over again. It is almost like there could be a robot behind the front desk programmed with the same answers. All the guests would have to do is push the appropriate button. Sort of like those menus we all have had to navigate when making a phone call to a business. Speaking of which......................................

Yesterday I had such an experience. I called E*Trade to find out how to make a deposit to my IRA account as of last year. Upon doing my taxes I discovered I owed $638. Apparently I missed the fabulous Bush tax cuts (probably because I’m not in the 35% tax range – I’m in the 15% tax range and, as all of you who are in that range know, we received NADA tax cuts during the Bush Reign of Terror.) To avoid paying $638 in taxes this year, I could make a retroactive contribution to my IRA account, thus delaying paying taxes on my meager income this year to a future year in which I may not have a job and will need the money. I realize that last sentence was a long one but you get the idea. I’m trying to hang onto as much of my money as I can in my twilight years. Everything is going up except my income and my libido. Anyway, back to my experience calling E*Trade. It took me several calls and about 15 minutes plowing through telephone menus before I got a live person to ask how I make a contribution on line. He told me to go into the E*Trade web site and click the box that said Transfer. He then told me to indicate where I wanted the funds to come from (my bank account in Downingtown) and which one of my E*Trade accounts I wanted credited. Then he told me to check either the 2008 or 2009 IRA contribution box. Well, that was easy enough. Actually, I think I made this process a lot harder that it really was. In fact, I think I was the Customer Who Was Struck Dumb. I imagine the E*Trade customer service representative I talked to yesterday has his own list of customers who ask the SAME QUESTIONS. Hmmmm….something sounds familiar here.

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