The Speedracer

I love to drive. I’m fortunate enough to be able to drive quite a bit as part of my job. This means I get to see all kinds of drivers: slow old people, fast young people, road hogs that take up every lane available, truckers, texters, drinkers, and assholes. This is about an asshole.

I was on a highway in southern Texas heading north. The speed limit was 75 mph, I’d already gone through the immigration checkpoint, and I was doing 80. This particular highway has a small town every 30 miles or so where you gradually have to slow down to around 30 mph. No problem, it breaks up the mindless straight shot of a drive heading north on a boring road for 5 hours.

In one of these towns, I slowed down to 55, 50, 40, and then 30, as per the very clearly posted road signs. All of a sudden, a silver BMW pulls out of a gas station right in front of me. I slammed on my brakes hard enough to make some of the things in the back seat magically appear in the front seat. I checked my mirrors and, sure enough, there was no one behind me. Speedracer could definitely see that he could have waited for me to pass before turning onto the highway. I honked a few times and flashed my brights, which meant nothing in the middle of the sunny Texas day. Plus, Speedracer had sped off quickly, regardless of the very clearly posted road signs. I saw him weaving in and out of traffic, no turn signals, well over the speed limit in the small town.

It takes quite a bit to get me upset, but little things like that get me fuming inside. By the time I finally made it out of the small Texas town, Speedracer was long gone. That’s an impressive feat considering the town was only about a mile and a half across. 15 or 20 minutes went by and I had all but forgotten about the incident.

Then I noticed everyone ahead slowing down, below the speed limit. Justice had been served. Not only was the silver BMW pulled over on the side of the road, Speedracer was handcuffed and being put into the back of one of the 3 State Trooper cars behind his BMW. I don’t know what the situation was other than he was an asshole that pissed off everyone on the road, but I’m guessing he won’t be driving for quite a while now.

Driving can be a stressful activity, especially with people like Speedracer out there on the road. So try to be respectful and mindful of other people on the road. You aren’t the only one out there and someone is always watching.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Housekeeper

I spend the night at a hotel over 300 nights a year due to my job. It’s very rare that I stay at the hotel past 6 or 6:30 in the morning. That being said, there are times where I stay until checkout 11:00 in the morning or so, when I work overnight. I don’t get much sleep, but when I do, I really need it.

Most of my late mornings involve getting up before the sun, chugging some coffee, checking emails, and going back to sleep. Falling asleep in the morning at a hotel means drifting off to the gentle sounds of children screaming and running up and down hallways, the subtle shouts of married couples yelling at each other, a symphony of hotel room doors opening and slamming shut, and housekeepers banging on doors, yelling, “Housekeeping!” All of this is done with no regard to other guests.

Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I have stayed at every kind of hotel imaginable, from the crime scene/drug-dealer/sex-solicitation hotel to the luxury resort. It doesn’t matter where you go, the guest are the same, especially in the morning.

I understand that rooms need to be cleaned ASAP to get ready for the next night, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to start knocking doors down a little bit before the posted checkout time. But if I request a late checkout, and the front desk receptionist makes notes saying that I will be checking out at exactly 11 or 12 or 1, and I have a DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging from the doorknob, and both latches are locked and secure, then IT’S NOT OKAY TO BEAT ON MY DOOR AND SCREAM “HOUSEKEEPING” AT 8:30 IN THE DAMNED MORNING. If I call the front desk to ask why someone is trying to clean my room when I have made it clear that I am checking out at checkout time, and not 3 hours earlier, then an appropriate answer is not, “They thought you might have checked out early.”

Even if I hadn’t requested a late checkout, or said that I was checking out at the normal checkout time, 8:30 is too early to find out if I’m still in my room. At least wait until 9. I know I’m complaining, and that I may sound unreasonable, but, come on. Anyway, this doesn’t happen every day, and I still enjoy staying at hotels. Housekeepers and hotel staff usually work hard and it’s a thankless job. You take the bad with the good, I suppose.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Manager

Doing what I do, I get to meet a lot of wonderful people. For example, managers at each site that think they’re bees knees just because they’ve been there a week longer than the employee who has to clean the bathroom. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. If you’re the manager of a gas station making $10.75 an hour, 27 hours a week, in your mid-fifties, then you don’t get to be on a high horse.

I got to experience the wrath of one manager in particular early this afternoon. We’re gonna call her Karen.

Karen is in her mid-fifties, a heavy smoker, overweight, and wears clothes that are way too small for her frame. Karen is the manager of a gas station. Karen is loud. Karen likes to yell at employees in front of customers and laugh about it later. Karen makes a little over a dollar more an hour than her subordinates. Clearly this gives Karen the authority and power to be a terrible person and leader to her employees.

I walked into Karen’s store while she was berating an employee for mopping the floor from the back office to the counter, instead of from the counter to the back office. Karen did this as she walked out of the store to smoke a cigarette and bumped right into me. I apologized, because I’m a nice guy, and Karen scoffed.

This is where I decided to be all business. I let her know what I was there to do and how I planned on doing it, starting with shutting down her site for the next 2 hours. No fuel sales for her. She pitched a fit and waddled back inside to call her manager when I told her I was going to do this whether or not she wanted me to, because her corporate office issued the work order. Store managers get emails regarding these work orders. So, Karen either is too busy being awful to people and smoking to read emails and do her job or the corporate office somehow forgot to send an email to this one and only site. I wonder which one of those things happened?

Mentioning the email was not the right thing to do. Apparently, I have become a bossy guy who just barks orders at people and I need to be fired for my unprofessional demeanor. For those of you who know me, you know I’m the most professional guy out there when it comes to doing my job. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the most professional guy out there when it comes to doing my job!

Well, before Karen was able to get to a phone, I pulled out my cell phone and called her manager. This person is the district manager. I’m very close with all of the district managers, seeing as how I work on their sites all the time.

Turns out you can’t sneak a sunrise past a rooster. The district manager had received several complaints from employees and customers about Karen and he was well aware of the problem.

All of a sudden, Karen got a call. From her district manager. She was very nice to me and everyone she came in contact with, at least for as long as I was there.

Don’t be a Karen.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.