As of yesterday, I am now a Front Desk Clerk at the El Tovar hotel!
While housekeeping was an exercise, both physically and in patience; the work was difficult, repetitive, and dull.
This is not to say the work was always terrible. Indeed, having 8 hours to myself each day allowed me plenty of time and space to think. Sometimes I got tips! Several rooms left behind food
However, most of the time people didn’t tip, and the solitude drove me slowly crazy. All this to say: when I heard of openings at the front desk, I jumped at the opportunity.
About a week ago, I took a skills test that asked questions like “When is it appropriate to yell at a customer?”(answer: never) and “What is 40% of $3.50?” (answer: use a calculator). When I did well on that, I was offered the job as soon as I met the housekeeping standard of 14 cleaned rooms per day.
Normally, management makes people wait until they clean 14 rooms 10 consecutive days without error, which could take 2-4 extra weeks, depending on the person. Thankfully, they were short-staffed enough to waive that requirement for me. After working with the renewed energy that comes from seeing a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, I finished out my week in housekeeping so strongly that my inspectors were sorry to see me go.
Front Desk training occurred over three days, where I took tours around the park, visited each guest room, and spent hours learning the computer booking system. I learned (theoretically) what to do with an angry customer, and how to direct people to the bathroom 500 times a day with a smile on my face.
El Tovar is the premiere lodging facility in the Grand Canyon (I might have stolen that from a brochure, my head is spinning with everything I’ve learned). The 108-year-old building has housed eight Presidents, and big names from Johnny Depp to Mark Zuckerburg. A co-worker from LA insists he’s seen more famous people in the Grand Canyon than he ever saw in California.
Even though my pay has only increased by 25 cents an hour, my style has increased by about a million dollars. I went from working in a gray polo with holes under the arms, to a dry-clean-only button up and a suit coat.
But it’s not about the money or the style, really. What I’m looking forward to is working with people again. Some people work better alone, but I perform so much better when people are watching. And loving on people—even difficult people—is part of the whole reason I’m here this summer.
I have so much to learn before I’m doing more than hiding behind my smile at the front desk. You may see sweat-stains under that nice jacket if you ask me one of the many questions I can’t answer. But I’m looking forward to a new challenge, new things to learn, and a change of scenery.
I’m also looking forward to someone else making the beds.