Thursday, August 17, 2017

Visiting Himself

There's an old man from Southern California that visits the hotel every now and again with his two adult sons. I've checked him in quite a few times over the years and shot the breeze with him more than once, so when he checked in last night I greeted him as usual and made the typical small talk we make. He got his usual room with his special room rate, and after a short while he and his sons were on their way.

He's getting up in age, though; he didn't always walk with a cane, and even though his hearing was never the best I find myself repeating myself and speaking up louder more often when talking to him. He was pretty old when I started working at the hotel more than eight years ago, so he has to be well into his 80s I think. He knows he's getting old too.

During a quick chat about general information, he asked me where the cemetery was. I made sure he meant the one in town and not one of the the historic ones, and I told him.

"Oh good," He said, "We're headed that way tomorrow. I'm going to visit myself."

I knew what he meant. "Got yourself a piece of real estate, huh?"

"Yup," He replied, "And I have to pay for it tomorrow."

He was going to his plot at the cemetery. Maybe it's because I plan to get cremated (or eaten by coyotes after getting lost in the desert, who knows), but I never really thought about pinpointing the exact place my body will be left after I keel over. I'd imagine it being a surreal experience, like the Ebeneezer Scrooge existential crisis moment toward the end of A Christmas Carol or an out-of-body experience but while still in your body, seeing your final resting place. Knowing the spot where what's left of your physical existence is going to be brings some small comfort to some people. Setting your affairs in order would set a mind at ease too, I guess.

After some pleasantries he left, and I started thinking about life a little bit.

There was a tinge of sadness behind the joking tone of the mans voice when he said he was going to visit himself. I think most people would have trouble making peace with finality. A lot of people are afraid of dying, but I think after so many years you feel some disappointment for not getting just a little more time. Even though he was making sure everything was in order when he passes away, even though he's led a good long life, he's bummed. He's like a kid who had the best summer vacation having to go back to school; a little disenchanted but accepting.

I hope, should I ever live to see old age, to be as bummed out about the party of life's last call. Life isn't perfect-- it's usually not even all that good-- but since it's going to end anyway it's worth seeing it through until the bar lights come on and the music stops.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Quick Gripe About Keys

The lodging facility I work at has two separate wings; a modern style motel and a historic hotel. The motel recently upgraded to RFID key cards, which is pretty nifty. The hotel wing still has the old school hard keys, like the little metal ones on your key ring.

RFID keys can be a little tricky, especially when you've never used one. Most of the guest clientele are accustomed to the usual magnetic strip type keys that you swipe through a slot in the door to unlock. All you need to do with RFID keys is hold them in front of the lock-- simple. So simple, in fact, that it's complicated, because people assume you insert the key in the door to open it. That means people come back to the front desk to ask where the slot is for the key, or to tell me they broke the door lock by trying to jam the key into a place it sort of might fit. I can't fault people too much for not knowing how those newfangled locks work I guess.

I can, however, fault people who don't know how normal keys work.

Oftentimes in the historic hotel, guests come back to the front desk after checking in to tell me their key doesn't work. When I follow them to their door and try their key, it works-- every time. After a moment of bewilderment at my apparent door-opening magic they look at me and say, "Oh! You use the lock on the DOORKNOB! I was trying the DEADBOLT lock!"

Okay... I act understanding and cordial after the fact to save face, but it does raise an honest question; If you try a doorknob, and you find said doorknob to be locked, why would you try the deadbolt lock instead of the doorknob lock? Maybe I'm expecting too much, or maybe I'm just being too critical, but it really seems like there is a fundamental level of problem solving that is being missed by these folks. Like, they can't figure out that they should unlock the doorknob that isn't turning. These are people that have survived into adulthood. Some of these people are educated, like doctors and teachers. I know it shouldn't, but it really gets to me. I don't know.

Maybe my gripe isn't so much about keys as it is about the lack of troubleshooting capabilities people possess. Maybe the unwillingness of people to figure relatively simple things out is the issue. The RFID cards have use instructions on them. There's another lock on the door besides the deadbolt. One thing is for sure, though; I really only think this hard about keys toward the end of my work week.