A few years ago Tina hired Joe.
Before he started both Tina and Cam would rave about how wonderful he was.
“He is so funny and learns so quickly” they said “He reminds me of you.”
They used to work with him back at the Fairfield before Tina took over here at the Roof.
Trainees tend to work 1-9s so I don’t meet them until their first night alone.
The first night I met Joe I barged through the door with my friendliness in high gear. “Hi! You must be Joe!” I said as I rounded the desk to put my things down and punch in.
Joe was about five nine, with salt and pepper hair, bad posture, and a prominent forehead and brow.
He said nothing.
I kept smiling and exuding friendliness. “Have a good first night?”
He said nothing.
I was almost done counting the drawer when Joe spoke.
He said “You done yet?!” in a harsh back.
“Just about” I kept right on smiling “Okay, All set. You are dead on.”
Without another sound Joe marched out the door.
It was like that. He was gruff, I did my best to be friendly.
Up till this point I was coming in fifteen or so minutes early every day.
Since Joe got here I started coming in right on time.
The guy exuded anxiety and rage. He was a curled up little ball of malice, and that sort of thing is infectious. I grew tense around his silent seething frame. I tried to get him out of there as fast as possible.
I took to sitting in the parking lot until eleven on the dot, just so I didn’t have to be in the same room as him for more than a couple minutes.
It still took a few hours to shake the bad vibes every night.
It only takes five minutes to get over a guest randomly screaming at me.
Apparently Joe had a dog.
I had no idea, until one night a woman came in and just started talking.
She stayed here a lot because she was involved with a married man. Once a week Phil Zappa and her would shack up in one of our rooms and consummate their forbidden love. I think her name was Peggy. She had well sprayed hair piled in ringlets on top of her head and a pair of sunglasses perpetually around her neck.
One night she came down to the lobby and started rambling. “Oh isn’t Joe’s dog the cutest? I think it’s great how your boss.. Tina right? .. lets him bring her to work with him every night. I cut her hair for Joe did you know that? I did such a good job that Joe has me cut his hair” and this sort of thing for about five minutes before finally coming up for air.
“I didn’t know Joe had a dog.”
“What you didn’t? but he brings her in every night.”
“No. He must take her to the car before I get here.”
He’d been here a year at this point, maybe more
“Well he must talk about her.”
I said “No, I don’t talk to Joe.”
I heard about the dog a few times after that.
The time he got in trouble because Tina told him not to bring her in when the district manager was visiting.
The time the guest came in, while I was relieving Joe, panicked at the barking dog in the car in the parking lot. “That’s my dog. It’s none of your business.” Said Joe with all of his crustacean charm.
Then there was the time Jaime was doing a room rack (making sure all of the vacant rooms were clean) and she found a dog in one of the empty rooms.
There was shit and piss everywhere and things were chewed up. When she returned to the lobby freaking out at this random dog Joe said “She’s mine. She is fine.”
That’s it. I never saw that dog, not even a picture.
I thought it was important to bring up because when they want to humanize a character in a movie or book they tend to give him a dog. There is apparently something about someone having a dog that makes them likable.
Therefore I am telling you about Joe’s dog to make him likable.
Cam is my first shift person. She’s about the friendliest most sociable person you might meet. She is brilliant at dealing with the general public, cracks jokes, remembering their birthdays and their room preferences after they have been gone for years. She’s just a crack shot people person, born to it.
Despite her knowing him for years, and all of her glowing reviews, Cam couldn’t stand Joe either. She took to calling him Darth Vader because he used to be good but had turned to the dark side. She called him that to his face. It was important he knew.
Every once in a while Joe would come up for air and almost be a person for a little while.
We only had a few brief conversations. During one he told me about his chronic headaches, Tina would tell him to go to a doctor but he was afraid that if he did “They will just tell me I am going to die.”
Another time he told me how he went down to North Carolina to assistant manage at a bit Marriot or something. He told me all of his employees were black. They jumped him in the parking lot after his first day of work and beat the shit out of him. He never went back.
He told me about how he used to use Adult Friend Finder until he got too fat, that it was a good time fucking random girls. He told me he regretted not settling down and starting a family in his 30s because it was now too late for him.
He told me he used to be addicted to pain pills, but he still downed handfuls of exedrin.
That sums up pretty much every conversation I had with Joe.
Until one night he didn’t leave until eleven forty five, just lingering and fiddling.
I messaged Tina about it on facebook, just bitching.
The next night Jess came to work with me. This was before we were even dating, that three month trial period.
I walked into the lobby a few minutes ahead of her.
When I walked in, instead of the usual unpleasant silence Joe snapped “Don’t even talk to me.”
I rounded the desk to punch in “I wasn’t planning on it.”
Then he started yelling “You post on facebook when I leave? What business is that of yours?!”
Jess walked in, he said “How can I help you?”
I said “She’s with me.”
She sat quietly in the corner chair and flipped through a copy of table hopping.
So I tried to explain that I didn’t post shit on facebook and that he was a crazy motherfucker.
And he ranted about how I’d always been out to get him.
Then Mr Coorsen came in and asked me to make some copies.
So I yelled at Joe how he should be medicated, and everyone knows it.
Then he attacked me for being bipolar. Oh the yelling. Oh the drama.
Jess read quietly. Mr Coorsen, a sweet little guy with tan skin, white hair, and giant eyes, waited for his copies.
Then Joe yelled something about how Niasia had warned him that I fuck with people and that I do.
I yelled at him over and over that he had to get medicated, do whatever it took to fix that crazy head of his.
It was a whole rigamarole.
I handed Mr Coorsen his copies as a group of guys walked in.
Joe disappeared, not out the door but, into Tina’s office.
I apologized profusely to Mr Coorsen about the drama. He disappeared into the night.
I was trying to get the guys checked in to three rooms when the phone rang.
“Thank you for calling, yadda yadda how may I be of service?”
It was Tina “What is going on there?” she said, her voice was slurred.
“I am trying to get people checked in and Joe is yelling at me.”
“Well it needs to stop.”
“I see no reason why Joe can’t go home. His shift is over…. And I just need you to sign there and initial there and there, sir.”
The other phone line was going.
“I need to get the other line.”
“Don’t hang up on me!”
“Tina, I am trying to do my job. I’m putting you on hold.”
Then another couple walked in.
I handled the phone call, bouncing back and forth between the two computers, while finishing checking in those guys to their rooms.
And then I started taking care of the couple, and Tina called back.
“Don’t put me on hold.”
“Tina it is busy here. Please tell Joe to just go home.”
“I took sleeping pills because I have to get some sleep and now I have to deal with this.”
“Really, I can’t talk to you” as even more people walked in and the other line started going… which is all really weird because 11 oclock isn’t a peak time for a hotel in Syracuse in the winter. “Please just tell him to leave.”
“He said you told him I said to get medicated.”
“Yes. I have to put you on hold.”
Which I did, and finally got to attend to the guests in front of me with more than hand signals.
A few minutes later Joe marched out of the back room and into the night.
I got everyone snug in their beds and then got to spend time with Jess.
I would have to say, that a healthy factor in her getting to know me was her getting a front row seat to me having a ridiculous screaming match with a guy.
Mr Coorsen got a free night and I’m embarrassed every time I see him to this day.
We have drama around here sometimes, like the time Hamdo pulled the baseball bat on Andy, or the time Hamdo pulled the baseball bat on Ed. It all glosses over in the long run.
A few days later I was setting up a web site. It was called OffenseIntended.com and I needed a banner. This was the middle of the night, middle of my day, like 3am. I started drawing bunny skulls.
The bunny skull was kinda my personal emblem. I flew it on a flag over my armies when we played Risk. It was on my guild’s tabards when we played World of Warcraft. It followed me around.
It’s not like a anatomically correct rabbit skull, more of a normal skull with buck teeth and bunny ears.
I drew a few of them and uploaded them. Then, for no good reason, I taped the physical copy to the cupboard.
Hours passed, my shift ended, and I went home.
The next day I woke to a text from Tina. “Lol. Call me when you get this.”
So I called “Joe quit. He walked off the job.”
I said, all joy in my voice “Why?
“I thought you’d be happy” she laughed “It was because of those skulls or whatever you drew. Can you come in early?”
I said “Sure.”
“He got upset I called him childish and stormed off.”
“Why’d you call him childish?”
“Because he was being a baby about it. He stormed out. I called Jaime back and was going to tell her to take them down and she told me he left.”
“That’s nuts. What an idiot.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying.”
So I went in early, and relieved Jaime from her first day alone. I’d never met her before. She was friendly.
She said “He walked out, and I waited a while, and then I looked and his truck was gone.”
I laughed and laughed and looked at my little bunny skulls hung there on the wall.
That night I sat down and wrote a shorter version of this story called ‘Bunny Skulls Have Voodoo Magic’ cause that was some powerful mojo.
Time passed. Joe never reared his head here again.
We heard he got a job over a hotel in Cicero. I kept wanting to call there and say things like “Does Joseph _____ work there? Yes, this is the North Carolina police department just calling to make sure that his work puts him in no contact with children.” Just that. It kept popping in my head. I wanted to mess with him (as he was apparently absolutely SURE I was going to do on the day I met him) but I never did it. I just didn’t want him even having the tiniest thought it might be me. I wasn’t scared of him or anything, just not keen on being in a room with him again.
Tina got an email from him. He told her there were no hard feelings, happy to see that everything worked out Jaime, that it all worked out for the best. He told her about how everyone over there liked him and he was much happier and that he wanted to still be friends with her.
She never replied.
Cam and I are still here. Jaime stayed a while and now she’s long gone.
Now Joe is dead.
I woke up to this facebook message from Tina on Friday:
“Jason’s wife is working at the hotel in Cicero where Joe was working and he informed me that Joe died last May of a brain aneurysm”
“Well that’s weird” is what I sent back.
And that seems to be everyone’s response. They laugh.
“Joe died” … “Lol what?”
Jenny says it’s because it’s such a Joe-like thing to do.
I say it’s because he seemed to mean to die.
I found a video montage on youtube of his in memoriam baby pictures and what not.
I tried to brace myself in sobriety at the loss of a human life, but I couldn’t stop shaking my head and smiling thinking “That is so weird.”
Cam laughed, Tina laughed, everybody laughed.
It’s just so weird.
And the weirdest part is this…..
While I was screaming at him that night…
to get medicated, so see a doctor for these bad moods….
I guess I was actually trying to save his life.
The bunny skulls are still hanging on that cabinet to this day.