Students, Hurricanes, and Anime

It was a busy week and became an insane weekend. As I tried to adjust my teaching methods to a new method, I realized the process method had some flaws. Biggest one is I need logins for all of the students before we can begin the process. So lecture time again. I should have the logins by the time classes begin again, Tuesday?
Thursday I went into work at the Hilton and realized the Anime convention was there, Mecha Con. I had forgotten when it was. Torn between being at work and dealing with the “chaos” that may erupt and the want to go upstairs and join in the celebration, I patiently waited for time to sneak up and see what was happening. Thursday and Friday was lackluster in events and participants. It disappointed me because it would be interesting for Lafayette to be the host of a large yearly convention of this kind.
Now here is where the fun begins.
Friday night, Amanda’s mother calls me worried about the hurricane. It was still in the gulf and hadnt started its turn north. I was not worried. Plus it was a category 2. Saturday morning I went into work to find the panic had started. The hotel was filling up with oil rig crews as the hurricane went deeper into the gulf. We shot from -20 rooms when I arrived to +10 rooms and everywhere between. Also, the attendance to the MechaCon went through the roof, which meant I was constantly answering questions that bordered on the inane. The Hilton had a large convention coming in Monday, so we were again sold out. Because of the monday convention, which we knew would be cancelled, we were stuck with telling every caller that we were sold out. It was extremely busy. I didnt leave the desk and didnt get a chance to see the convention. Sunday’s mess made me reminescent of Saturday’s pace.
I walked in with a line of about 30 oilfield worker waiting to be served. To help smooth things out, the intelligent NA’s thought it was a good idea to only push the reservations instead of assigning rooms, checking them in, and then making keys for them. Because of their wonderful minds, we spent 30 mins sorting oil field workers into rooms they shouldnt have been in: king rooms, since there were two per room; murphy bed rooms, since these were big guys; and our whirlpool suites, this one should be self explanatory. It was a chaotic start of what would become an insane day. Also the NA decided she had to finish her daily downstairs which left us without the aid of a computer next to the phone. This may not be a big problem most of the time, but we were receiving anywhere from 10-15 calls a minute asking if we had rooms. It took all three of us to keep the phones answered, but for 3 hours we all had to use the same phone to do this. This meant we had to transfer calls to separate phones. Because of the mess caused by the NA, it caused more problems than it needed.
Also along with the group of oilfield workers, people were starting to arrive asking to check in to rooms that wouldnt be ready for 8 hours. It became a madhouse. As the three desk clerks tried to accomodate everyone, already inhouse guests, arriving guests, the costumed convention attendees; we barely kept pace with the rushing, panicked, desparate crowd. Luckily the GM was on duty, this meant that I could get the answers for any question I had, since he had the last say. Although he wasnt happy to have picked this weekend to be the MOD, he proved to me that he deserves the position of a GM. His speed at making decisions and adjusting the system to open or close new reservations kept a few steps ahead of the crowd. There were times we both joked about how we wished we would have not been there. Typical conversation (happened once every 15 minutes when I had enough problems to need his attention):
“Hilton sales and marketing this is XXX, how can I help you”(he answered the phone this way because he was too busy to worry if it was an outside or inside call)
“Goodday sir, how is everything?”
“Im doing good sir (or having fun sir). What can I help you with Wilbur?”
(at one point we stated we should drop the pleasantries because we were doing this too often, but we never did)
“Well we have a small problem(or I have a small question)”
“Anything to help you, sir”
“Well we need XXXX(or someone is upset or someone did this and I want to know how you would like me to handle it)”
“Oh well, why do they want that?” (stalling to figure out an answer)
“Because they are guests (workers, idiots), sir”
Realize that I know how to handle most situations and I handle most situations myself even playing the role of a concerned MOD who has his hands tied and hopes he can find a solution that will make the stay “bearable” for the upset guests (usually for petty reasons).
On weekends where are MOD is a manager from a department that has nothing to do with customer service: housekeeping, engineering, and strangely enough the restaurant. We handle all the complaints. We avoid getting the MOD because we have seen the situation get worse with their help. They were not hired for their positions because they had great skills with dealing with customers. They were hired because they could manage a large amount of workers.
This went on for 8 hours. It was a maddening shift. The Monday convention finally canceled, but we didnt have any extra rooms because all the guests that were attending the MechaCon and the ones inhouse picked up the extra nights,which left us with telling all the callers we didnt have rooms.
Throughout the day, we received updates from certain guests about the condition of the roads, the strength of the hurricane. The hurricane’s direct path was for the city of New Orleans. New Orleans is 30 feet below the sea level. It survives storms with luck, levees, and water pumps. NO has never been hit with a hurricane of this nature. Scientist warned that a direct hit of a category 3 hurricane would be catastrophic for NO. Last night the hurricane was a category 5 with sustained winds of 175 mph. Winds of this magnitude disintegrate buildings. At 3:00pm Sunday, the mayor of NO declared a mandatory evacuation and stated that no one could return for 5 days. Everyone who had fled NO knew they would return to nothing.

As I write, the hurricane has dropped to a category 4 as it comes on land. The trees are shaking back and forth, but for the most part its calm here. NO, Mississippi and Alabama are receiving the bulk of the hurricane.


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