Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Is This Place Haunted?"

Old hotels are interesting. Old photos of forgotten people and paintings by unknown artists hang from the walls. Well-worn furnishings add to the aesthetic the hallways, reception, and rooms, acting as living history for days long gone. Ugly floral wallpaper and paisley print carpets add a quirky charm to old-timey lodging that helps you almost forget about the slight dusty-- and sometimes even musty-- smell old buildings gets.


Above all else, old hotels end up having countless people coming in and out of them over the course of years. I work in a hotel that's about 92 years old, and I talk to at least a hundred people most days, ushering them to their rooms, showing them how to turn on their televisions, and muttering swear words under my breath when the WiFi goes out or when I have to clean up the horrors from overflowing toilets. The number of people that I've spoken to over the years that I've worked here is hard for me to think up. It's a lot of people. A lot of fixing TV, resetting modems, and seeing the poop of strangers. Most of all, a lot of repeated questions.

If it's not about availability, the WiFi password, or the adjoining doors between rooms, it's about ghosts. I usually tell people, "I can neither confirm nor deny that the place is haunted, but it's a matter of what you believe in," but sometimes I continue with, "Buuuuuut, I've heard some things from people if you want to hear some stories."

By this point half the people I talk to are stoked about it while the other half are slinking into the corner not wanting to be too spooked to go to bed. I continue with stories I've heard, and sometimes I get to hear new ones, but there's one underlying theme with all of them: this place can get a little fucking creepy.

One night I was tidying up around the front desk when a scruffy guy came up to the reception. He asked if the place was haunted, and he told me why he thought it might be. He and his hiking partner were staying in a room without an en suite bath (there are common baths throughout the hotel, blah, blah, blah) while they waited for the bus to take them back to Tuolumne Meadows outside Yosemite, so they'd been at the hotel for a night already. The first night they were there, he was in his bed dozing off when he felt a hand on his shoulder start to shake him, like someone trying to wake him up. He grumbled at his friend, "Fuck off, dude, I'm trying to sleep," but felt a little uneasy when his friend walked in the door after being in the shower the whole time. He said he was certain nobody else was in the room with him, and he slept uneasy his second night there.

Another night, when I lived in the hotel, I'd gotten off shift and made my way to my room. It was winter, and the boiler was broken, so nobody was staying in the place except for me. As I was laying in bed, curled up and shivering, I heard the sound of kids running up and down the halls, giggling up and down the stairs. I looked out my door to see what brats might be running amok, but no one was there. I went downstairs to see the graveyard clerk sitting, doing paperwork, and definitely not running up and down the halls. It was dead silent in the place after I went to check for who was making the racket after midnight, and I slept a little uneasy afterward.

Just the other night I got a phone call from a lady saying she'd experienced something terrifying during her stay in early 2011. She had been booked a room by her employer, so she didn't get much of a say when she entered the room and felt a sudden uneasiness. The unease didn't ebb off as the night went on, but she decided to close her laptop, shut off the light, and try and sleep regardless. Not long after turning in, she was startled by a bright light in her room. Seeing her laptop open and on didn't do much to put her mind at ease, but she tried to fall asleep again anyway. Soon after, she was awakened by what she thought was an earthquake, and immediately left when she felt someone-- or something, according to her-- grab her shoulder.

She said she never came back after running from her room at 4am, and that she'd never stay here again. I tried to convince her to reconsider, but she seemed pretty firm in her decision.

The hotel has undergone a few renovations and updates over the years, even since I started working there. In the fresh paint, updated furnishings, and new stucco walls, there's a little less of an old creepy haunted house feeling, but kicking up dust and ripping things out and off the building could stir up something in the walls. The rattling pipes of the boiler don't sound like footsteps. The wind doesn't shake you awake at night. I can neither confirm or deny the place is haunted, but it's all a matter of what you believe in.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Blog Update 10-21-15

Surprise! I'm not dead! Yay!

Sorry for the months of silence. Work and life have had me distracted from writing, and this summer has been an exceptionally busy one for me. With the off-season coming up, I might get back on the blogging train since it'd be easier to get creative juices flowing without being inundated with hundreds of tourists sapping my soul. Posts could get more regular again too, but I can't guarantee a post every week since, I'll be honest, I'm easily distracted as well as busy in my personal life.

But, since I've been gone, I've run a couple races and done okay-ish. Last weekend I ran a 10K and got first! For men in my age group! Out of two people! With a 26 second lead! If I ever ran for time I'd be pretty stoked, but I'm just glad I got to run a 10K in a wizard hat (it was a Halloween-themed run, so hopefully someone got a picture of me running in that hat because it was fucking awesome). I also went camping with my girlfriend without getting rained out, went to a friend's wedding up north, and ate a lot of Taco Bell, so it's been pretty great.

Next week I plan to write about some of the ghost stories from the hotel instead of an apology for lacking content, so look forward to that.

So, uh... see you next week?