The Paranormal Hotel, described. (Part One)Posted: May 29, 2014
Those of you have who have been with me for a while know that I sometimes work at a
flophouse hotel that I fondly refer to as the #paranormalhotel. This is not because the place is particularly haunted (though it can be pretty creepy in the wee hours, and I have had one semi-mysterious thing happen to me there.) Instead, I consider it “paranormal” because its environment is anything but normal — at least to most of us who are accustomed to staying in mid-priced, business-class or resort-style hotels.
The paranormal hotel is neither of those things. It’s generally clean, but the furnishings are dated and worn. The televisions are thick, heavy boxes balanced atop rickety entertainment stands which have three drawers. These drawers are either ill-fitting or broken or both. Most of the lamps have finicky switches, and people steal the light bulbs from them all the time. The bathrooms are dimly lit by flickering tube-style florescents. The bathtubs are shallow and their finish is wearing thin. Heavy gold drapes, often missing at least a couple of drapery hooks, hide each room’s window. The beds are dressed in slippery, shiny spreads that are quilted with plastic thread. Most of the pillows are lumpy. Many of the towels are ragged at the edges. (But never stained — management is strict about providing spotlessly white linens.)
The owners work incredibly hard, for endless hours, to keep up, but staying on top of maintenance for an aging five-story building is an interminable job. The building’s roof is flat, so every spring there is a battle against leaks when the snow melts and pools. The elevator is cranky. The stairwells are dingy. The vending machine accepts quarters exclusively, and then only grudgingly gives up its treats.
Because the paranormal hotel is located at the northern edge of St. Paul, and because it’s relatively cheap, it mostly attracts a rough clientele. These are people who yank out a lot of phone cords, clog a lot of drains, stain (or burn holes in) a lot of carpet, upholstery and bedding, and break a lot of furniture.
GUESTS — THE SHORT-TERMERS
The short-term guests who cause the most damage are generally under the influence … common intoxicants include: alcohol, pot, meth, heroin, oxy, lust, love, rage, fear, grief, and/or rock and roll. Of course, many (most?) of the folks who come in without a reservation are under the influence of something … this is a merely a matter of degree, and potential mayhem seems to be heavily dependent on what happened to the guest just before they decided to stay at the #paranormalhotel.
The most destructive guests tend to arrive just after:
- going to a concert … but damage is most likely if they are drunk/stoned and/or middle-aged
- being recently slapped with a restraining order
- being suddenly evicted from an apartment … damage is especially likely if there are multiple neglected-looking children in tow
- being locked out by a fed-up parent or boyfriend / girlfriend
- fleeing a violent conflict … but this only gets bad when the guest then TELLS the abuser where they are
- scoring a drunken one-night-stand … destruction and drama is most likely if the female pays for the room but the male registers and takes the key
- being brought in by the cops, because the guest hasn’t done anything VERY illegal, and has no where else to go
Not all of the one- or two-night guests are bent on destroying the property. In fact, some are very conscientious (or, maybe, afraid of being charged for any damage wrought.) Our best short-term guests tend to fall into one these categories:
- vacationing retirees who find us thanks to our good standing with AAA
- patients from a nearby hospital or the VA whose treatment doesn’t include an overnight stay, but probably should
- traveling groups of “kids” (in their very early 20s or late teens) who come into town from out-state Minnesota to have an adventure in The Cities
- regulars, who register two vehicles and wear wedding rings that obviously don’t match and who check out after a couple of hours
- regulars, who may or may not be prostitutes and/or pimps and/or drug dealers
These are the folks who put the wet towels in the tub, gather their garbage into tied-off trash bags, and make the bed before checking out. Sometimes, they even tip the housekeepers.
We keep all of these types isolated from one another by assigning a particular floor to a guest based on what we can glean from characteristics like age, appearance, length of stay, smoking preference, method of payment, and brief conversations about what brings them to the hotel.
Guests with AAA and AARP cards are ALWAYS given a room on the first or second floor which is the cleanest, most well kept part of the building. (Unless they request a smoking room. The we give them on of the nicer rooms on three.) Folks who come in smelling of pot or booze or trouble go directly to the fourth floor.
If the front desk staff has segregated people properly all day, the security check that must be done sometime around three o’clock in the morning will go like this:
- 1st floor — All quiet. The air smells of Lysol and fresh laundry. (The laundry room is on the main floor.)
- 2nd floor — Also likely quiet. It may be possible to hear a TV playing and microwaved popcorn may scent the hall.
- 3rd floor — There may be a couple of competing televisions blaring. There may be bursts of laughter. The smells of cigarette smoke, burnt popcorn, pizza, broasted chicken, and Chinese take-out exude from the rooms.
- 4th floor — Almost certainly noisy. There will be raised voices … sometimes merry, and sometimes angry. There will likely be a thin haze of smoke, much of it far more pungent than tobacco. (I’ve gotten contact highs in that hallway.) There may be one or more people in the hallway. Here, folks go to each other’s room to socialize or to complain or to argue. There may be someone begging to be let back into the room. There may be someone wandering the hall with an ice bucket because he or she can’t quite remember which room to return to. There may be someone slumped against the wall, because he or she has given up on gaining admittance or finding the correct room.
- 5th floor — we haven’t talked about the 5th floor yet, have we? Nor the Long-Timers. Well, it’s late and I’m tired. I guess we’ll just have to go with:
TO BE CONTINUED …
And that’s life at:
photo credit: Witt Istanbul Suites Licensed CC BY-NC 2.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic)
It has been cropped to square.
NOTE: This post may have been re-titled and edited from its original form,
for inclusion on The Paranormal Hotel homepage.