I'm getting better at the night routine after a show: Sleep for a few hours, wake up when the bus slows to exit ramp speed, and jump off to check everyone into the hotel.
Our check-in times range between 1 am and 6 am and I'm improving in speed, coherence, and mood. I often now manage to smile when I'm handing over the key packs and sometimes even wrestle out a "See you in the morning" or "Sleep well" for the Idols or band members.
I usually doze in the front lounge of the bus and have been told by more than one person that I'm a bit of a sleep contortionist. Well, if sleep contortionists fall asleep with glasses of wine in their hand and dribble it down the front of their shirts, then I agree.
I'm also supposedly capable of rolling myself up into a ball smaller than any nearly six-foot tall person should be able to. I remain that way, tiny and coiled, until I explode all over the lounge so that every available surface area - couch and floor - is covered by legs, all without breaking my sleep.
It's a REALLY good day when I get chatty with the front desk staff. Focus on more than being polite, shepherding the flock to their rooms, and keeping the glasses on my face from being cocked at an angle greater than thirty degrees? Yikes.
Recently, after a short two-hour drive, I arrived at the Marriott feeling good, perky even. The guy at the front desk, Avi, was very happy to have us there. VERY. Somewhere in the midst of his gleeful yammering, Avi mentioned that it was his last night working at the hotel.
"You should steal something," SOMEONE ELSE said.
This made me laugh louder than the situation warranted because it reminded me of the King Missile song Take Stuff From Work and that's what happens whenever I remember King Missile songs (Jesus Was Way Cool, Meditation is Boring, Detachable Penis).
Since Avi and I had broken the conversational ice, I asked him about his last day. Avi told me that he's worked for Marriott for eight years, that he LOVES Marriott, that he's witnessed several Marriott employees fall in love and get married, and reiterated how much true love goes into the Marriott business.
But it's not all love, it's stress, too, and Avi can't take it anymore. It's affecting his health. He's already had ulcers, colitis, and, unless my ears betrayed me, a COLOSTOMY BAG thanks to Marriott.
Avi ran in the back and brought out a large homemade poster that his colleagues had made for him, wishing him well in the future. I smiled and wished him luck, too, and then decided it was time to go to my room.
Last night's drive was five hours long. I woke at 4:45 am and found myself alone in the front lounge, splayed on the couch using a balled-up American flag blanket as pillow. During check-in, I was swift and tidy but somewhat humor-free. In short, I wasn't fucking around.
Twenty minutes later, I was ready to take the elevator upstairs. The bellmen were delivering bags and the drivers were milling about the sidewalk, smoking cigarettes. I was waiting for our last person, Jamecia, to disembark and was slumped in an armchair, holding her key in my hand.
Mid-slump, I glanced towards the elevators and saw a naked man striding out of the elevator. His nakedness could be referred to both as STARK and BUTT-ASS and it didn't appear to bother him at all. Naked man pumped his arms, flapped his junk, pushed his way through the revolving door, and walked right past Jamecia.
In her squinty-eyed fatigue she looked at naked man but looked too tired to process what was happening. She'd nearly brushed up against some stranger's glory. I, on the other hand, was suddenly alert and couldn't rip my eyes off his rear end the whole time it tromped its way across the loading area and took a left up the street.
When I turned back to the lobby, I saw everyone displaying the same expression of NO, HE DIDN'T. The hotel manager, the bellman, the security, and Jamecia were all stunned into silence until the manager goes, "Well, he didn't have a key so he's not getting back in."
I went over to Jamecia, dropped my hands on my knees and hung my head, laughing at the naked man.
She looked around and out at the street. She looked at me and the hotel workers and kept huffing out the same sound over and over, unable to complete the whole word WHAT - "Wh- Wh- Wh-" - and after awhile I was laughing only at her.
Then I went upstairs, went to sleep, and forgot about him until today when the first round of "your boyfriend" jokes started.