Tonight was the last real night that I will work for Juniper Springs. Two weeks ago, I had three fumbles at the resort: I had got drunk after work with a few guests in the hotel, resulting in me throwing up in the maintenance shop, I had slept in the parking garage of a neighboring hotel and caused an issue with our management and theirs, and I set off a smoke alarm from cooking popcorn in the break room. All three things came to Jeff’s attention within forty eight hours of each other. Jeff wasn’t too pleased. I was in the middle of a shitstorm.
Jeff has been an amazing manager to me; more than a manager, Jeff showed respect to me in a way that most people don’t display, especially in a work environment. He went out of his way countless times for me, giving me a place to store ski equipment, getting me a pair of work pants that I desperately needed, and showing genuine interest in the life that I have led up until this point. He even bought me a solar charger for my phone. It was a huge blow to our relationship when those three incidents came crashing down on him. It was a moment that I wasn’t very proud of, to say the least. I valued our connection, yet at that moment, I felt I had done absolutely nothing to show that to him.
My time in Mammoth was short when those things happened. After talking it over with Morgean, I decided that it would be best for me to put in my two weeks notice. It was the middle of April, and my plan was to leave at the end of May anyways. The lift outside of Juniper Springs was set to close at the end of the month as well, meaning business was going to slow tremendously. When I decided my time there was up, I vowed to myself to put all of my effort into showing Jeff, as well as the rest of the maintenance staff, that I truly cared about being a benefit to them and the relationships we had cultivated. I wanted to leave on a good note.
A few nights ago, I had been tasked with removing all of the fire extinguishers from the rooms so they could be inspected and replaced. Tonight I had the job of replacing all of those extinguishers. The occupancy of the hotel was 27%. I got a list of all of the vacant rooms and began my night. For hours, I was the only person walking in the hallways of this five-story hotel. I had two calls over the first seven hours. As the night continued, I periodically checked the vacancy list to make sure there weren’t any new check-ins. It was extremely peaceful work, and I got into a good rhythym as I dropped one fire extinguisher after another into the empty rooms. Put the card in the door, walk in, open the cabinet below the kitchen sink, place an extinguisher, and move on. I was working from noon till eleven at night; my goal was to finish the job completely by the end of the shift.
I slid the card into room 349 and opened the door. There were lights on and towels near the entryway, which wasn’t uncommon. Some of the rooms hadn’t been cleaned by housekeeping yet. Maybe the guests had just checked out this morning. In room 349, the door opens to the left, and the bathroom is located immediately to the left after taking the first step inside. The lights were on in the bathroom, too. I glanced to the left to find a woman sitting naked in the tub with her knees pulled to her chest. We made eye contact for a split second, my face in pure horror at what happened and hers with an extremely uncomfortable smile.
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” I exclaimed, before immediately shutting the door to the room. I stood there for a second as the scene replayed in my head. “What the hell just happened,” I thought to myself. I hoped that the smile she wore was one of understanding that what just happened was an honest mistake; that I didn’t want to be in that situation any more than she did. I walked to my office and called the front desk. Ashley answered the phone. “Hey,” she said flatly.
“Hey, have we had any new check-ins in the last hour or so?” I was really hoping for her to say no, so I could tell her that some woman had managed to sneak into a room for a bath.
“Yeah, we’ve actually had a few.”
“Would 349 be one of them? Because I just walked in on some woman taking a bath.”
“No… That’s not good. Shit.”
“Yeah I know. I don’t think she will say anything though,” I prayed. “I immediately apologized and closed the door.”
“Okay, well I’ll let you know if they call.”
I hung up the phone and sat at the desk, still blank-minded from what happened. There were still two floors of rooms left to do. I wiggled the mouse and woke the computer to check the vacancy list again. I didn’t need to check 349, but I did anyways. Go figure. That’s the only room I have left which has been filled. I pick up the clipboard and head back out into the hallway, but only managed to nervously enter two more rooms before my radio squealed at me. “Front desk to maintenance.”
“Go ahead,” I replied.
“Could you come to the front desk?”
“Be right there.”
When I walked into the front desk office, Ashley told me exactly what I didn’t want to hear.
“349 called. The husband is pretty livid that another man saw his wife naked.”
“I can only imagine. But I didn’t actually see anything,” I pleaded. “All I saw was her face and her back.”
“Well, he said she was really scared. She didn’t know that it was maintenance; she just saw a man. I’d be feeling pretty weird right now if some random guy saw me naked too.”
“I completely understand. I would too. I’m pretty embarrassed at the whole thing right now.”
“The guy was pretty mad too. I explained the situation to him—that our maintenance man was installing extinguishers in vacant rooms, and that his list didn’t have your check-in on it.”
“He said ‘why didn’t he stop coming in when he saw all the suitcases all over the floor?’”
“I didn’t have time to look around the room. I literally opened the door and looked left, and there she was.”
“Well I’m going to have to put this in the closing email. I’m sure you’ll hear about it tomorrow, but I doubt it matters to you since you’re leaving tomorrow.”
“No dude, it still matters. This sucks all around. But there isn’t anything I can do. Can I go apologize to the guests?”
Ashley texted the assistant manager to tell her about everything, then asked if I should apologize.
“She said no. It’s best to let them cool off tonight and They will take care of it tomorrow morning.”
My head sunk. Two weeks of trying to do well, and it was all unraveled in a split second. Jeff will find out. The rest of the management will find out. I didn’t want to go into any more rooms. I just wanted to get out of the hotel and let them be. I felt like I was Kevin in Home Alone; that part in the beginning of the movie where he charges Buzz and the entire family dinner gets ruined, followed by comments from each of the family members about how much of a fuck-up he is. I wasn’t going to wait for Kevin’s mom to tell me to go to bed. I covered the pool and spas, then clocked out and drove to my camping spot. The hotel wasn’t going to have any more maintenance calls for the night anyways. And who knows, I’d prolly go in to help guests with a tv and set the entertainment system on fire.
The next day was the last day of work. I showed up to Jeff’s office, blindfolded as to what would be said about the night prior. To my surprise, Jeff didn’t mention anything about it.
“You clocked in, right? Okay. Go ahead and take your jackets and pants to uniforms, then talk to HR about getting your last check. When you come back, get a hold of me. It should be dead tonight. You can finish the fire extinguishers; and I want you to check off a couple of inspection items in the rooms as well.”
“Maybe he just figures it isn’t worth talking about,” I thought, as I closed his office door and headed to Dumbo. I’m out of here in one day. They can’t exactly fire me for what happened, and lecturing me on the incident would do no good from a business standpoint. I’m essentially no longer an employee for them. I drove to HR, turned in my uniform items, and talked to the front desk about my last check.
“You’ll have to come back at three. Payroll won’t take care of that stuff until then,” the receptionist informed me. No big deal. Finishing the fire extinguishers would only take a few hours anyways. I drove back to Juniper Springs and found Jeff sitting in his office.
“All right so here’s the list for the fire extinguishers,” he began. “Go ahead and finish what you were doing with those, then I want you to check each room for ceiling fans, window screens, destroyed blinds, and if the balcony needs painting.”
“No problem,” I replied, and turned around to walk out into the hallway.
“I reached out to the guests of 349.”
Great, here it comes. I spun back around to face him.
“They haven’t called me back yet. Look, we all go into rooms too quickly sometimes. I know I have put a key in the door and opened it immediately after knocking, just because I checked the room on the computer and it was vacant. And didn’t the front desk give you the vacancy list? They knew that you were going through each room and putting in a fire extinguisher. They should’ve known that if they’re going to change a room from vacant to occupied, it would be a good idea to notify you as well. But they didn’t. These are things that all of us are working on, but change doesn’t happen overnight, as much as we would like it to. Just make sure you knock on the doors before entering, regardless of what your list says. Thanks. Have a good night, Sir.”
I smiled and walked out the door, closing it behind me. As I began going down the stairs to the maintenance shop, I thought of how I had wanted to tell Jeff what I thought about him and our connection. I hadn’t really had a good opportunity. I turned back up the stairs towards his office. When I opened the door, he looked up from his desk with a questioning face.
“Thank you,” I said with a warm smile. He questionable look intensified.
“Well yeah,” he replied uneasily. I have gathered over the past few months that he is not much for receiving emotional graces. He’s very stoic.
I continued. “Jeff, I’ve really enjoyed the past few months working here. I learned a great deal from you and the others in maintenance, and I’m really glad to have had you as a manager. You’re an incredible manager man; you taught me a lot.”
He smiled. “You came in here in the height of an incredibly busy season and did an amazing job. All of us here are appreciative of the work you’ve done. I hope you enjoy your summer, and if you ever want to come back, we will gladly welcome you if we have the position. Best of luck to you, Sir.”
I left Jeff’s office feeling appreciative for his positive thoughts about me, as well as determined to finish the job I had been given as best as I could. I went from vacant room to vacant room, knocking on each door before entering. Four hours later, I finished my task. As I sat in the maintenance office, waiting for guest calls to come in from the few guests in the building, I remembered back to those nights of running ragged in a hotel fully occupied with people. I didn’t eat my dinner many nights in order to maximize my time responding to guest calls, and I often left the hotel completely exhausted. Back then, I didn’t think anyone was noticing how much effort I had put into those nights.
Jeff had told me when he pulled me into his office after finding out that I had been parking my van in a neighboring hotel garage, that he looks at my work history in terms of how many chips I put on the table. When I do good things, I add more chips. When I mess up, chips are removed. I think I left Juniper Springs with quite a few chips sitting on the table.