July 22, 2001

Not so much this job, but this hotel will drive me mad.  This is roughly the equivalent of a motel, but the staff runs around like stockbrokers on Wall St. with their heads cut off.  There are literally four songs on their muzak tape – they couldn’t spring for the whole one?  Oh, there it goes again – “Unforgettable” in a sultry sax – what are we in the first scene of a porno?  Then “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues and some godforsaken song by the Carpenters – if she hadn’t committed suicide this song would have been the Twinkie that pushed her over the edge.  “We’ve Only Just Begun” on a flute.  A computer synthesized flute none the less.  Then that song that goes “… between the moon and New York City…”  I don’t know its name, but the tune will be forever burned into my slowly deteriorating brain cells.  And they’re all ultra-extended jazzy club mixes, so they go on far longer than they need to.

Oh, I forgot about “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” picked out on a sensual harp.  Pure magic.  What TV advertisement at 3:23AM can I order this bevy of hits from, none of which are available in stores?

Adding to the madness, the muzak doesn’t actually play all the time.  I think they switch it on when they see people outside the automatic glass doors, and they just let it play out its little 30 minutes of self.  Then they just let it be silent – merciful respites from the drone of smooth easy listening – and then when someone fills the door glass they just press play again.

And if the music doesn’t kill me then the staff will.  There is Igor who haunts me with his insatiable red Lucozade addiction and madly incomprehensible accent.  He wears a New York Police Department sweatshirt EVERY DAY under his off-white canvas jacket.

Sunday means Irish music on the radio.

“Many times you have lingered around my garden door,
Oh hard times come again no more”
Steven Foster, writer – Jerry Lynch, singer

– Do you have any better money?  My husband likes to save them.

These are the customers I while away my life with.

Then there is that bitch manager with her shoulder length brown hair and perky face covered in the worry and stress of self-assumed importance and imagined stress.  Just as I wrote this she came over and paid for a pack of cigarettes.

– I still owe you money for those tights, don’t I?  £2 is it?  I’ll be right back.

That was over an hour ago.  Bitch.

Then there is the prick manager busy-body.  I’ve already vented about him.

Finally the dwarf Spanish woman who always smiles at me as she passes to the luggage room.  I was refilling the water bottle cornucopia that is the half-assed Häagen Dazs fridge when I saw her beaming at me from the register.  I was so pleased – she had come to say hello to me!

No such luck.  Instead she told me that I should have stamps for all the Americans who want to send letters back home.  I told her that as soon as we get them we sell them out.  She said that we should buy more.  Insolent bitch.  She also said it would make more business sense for us to have them – why?  Do we make any profit from them?  Indeed not.  It is purely a convenience for the fat, pampered, impatient guests of the riverside hotel.  And if a person chooses to buy all the stamps at once, robbing the next 50 people who want them of their stamps, then that’s not my problem.  Doing anything nice for anyone is never enough and never worth the hassle.  The thing that REALLY pisses me off is that she took time out of her busy luggage-lackey taxi-calling schedule to rebuke ME for not having enough stamps to coddle the 90 postcard buying guests.  The nerve.

I am also not a fan of the people who pick up a paper and hold it up to you from across the room, expecting the color to spark a Pavlovian response in which you crash your head down on the register immediately using your nose like a chicken at supper to punch out the price on the register, barking as you go.  They look so pissed when you ask them to bring it over so that you can look at the price.  They hate treating the help as people, and the closer they get to me the more human I am.  Much safer to yell across the room like a drive-through speaker at Taco Bell.  I should ask them if they want fries with that.

And THEN there are those people who grunt in horror when you tell them it’s a pound for their water.  I realize it’s a ludicrous sum – about $1.20 after all, and I’d never pay that for something that came out of a tap – but what do they expect?  Where do they think they ARE?  This is a shop in a hotel lobby – immediately you’re not in a place known for value and cut-rate prices.  If you’re too lazy to walk around the block to Spar then consider it a lazy-ass tourist tax being levied in the horrendous horror-snorting 200% markup.  I understand it’s insane, but I’m not sitting here under a sign that says KRAZY KARL’S KUT-RATE KONVENIENCE STORE.  It IS a hotel lobby, and you ARE going to have to get over it.

That’s why it’s CONVENIENCE store and not “CONVENIENT” store.  You buy convenience with every purchase.

Dublin’s playing in the qualifier this afternoon against Sligo in their back-door bid to be in the all-Ireland finals, and I’m back in the dining room with my arm in a magazine to protect me from the tar pit that is the table top.

Walking home was a wonderful and colorful experience with people in their blue Dublin shirts and black and white of Sligo.

Buy, sell, swap tickets!
Headbands, buy your headbands here!
The pigs are out in force.

Every pub is gorged with costumed revelers, spitting out chunks of humanity into the streets with their drinks and loud conversation, yelling across the streets to people I imagine they must know.

There is the t-shirt seller with his tent of uniforms outside our house, moored around the dumpster.  I think I should get one for free for living here, but evidently Michael charges them rent.  Of course he does.

But what team would I choose?  Cork – I SUPPOSEDLY come from there.  Sligo – where the hell is Sligo, anyway?  Not Dublin, after all I swear that I hate it but it’s really the only one I could claim to have any real tie to.  Love-hate makes a strong relationship after all.  Well, TOLERATE-hate.

Children are swaddled in flags – the actual DESIGN of the flag doesn’t matter, simply that it has the colors.  Hence Sligo’s black and white supporters have adopted the black and white checkered racing-pennant.  Due to this design-blind practice Cork with its red and white has run into some controversy for having people bring rebel flags to matches – just for the red and white.  All the flags are sold with bamboo lengths for handles – I’ve never seen bamboo in this country so it must be specially bred simply for the purpose.  Like free-range chickens there are probably organic bamboo farmers, with ranch hands patrolling on horseback to make sure no bamboo desperados make off with their bumper crop of flag components.

In fact, color is all important to the GAA.  Meath’s inspirational fan song is to the tune of “Those Were the Days.”  It goes “Go on you boys in Green, go on you boys in green, dad a dad a, dad a you boys in green.”  The “da da da” part is just a mess where people mumble and repeat “you boys in green” until they get back on track and eventually peter out.  Not a very profound thought-out song.  But they repeat their color as often as possible and that’s what’s important.

Kildare is in all white, so their rather ill-chosen nickname is “the Lily Whites.”  To me that’s almost like choosing to be called “Chicken Shit” but I suppose there’s no color name in that.  Maybe their motto should be “We’re so good, we’ll share your shit white.”

On of the teams is known as the All-Blacks, but I can’t remember who.  Maybe it’s Sligo.  It’s the victory over the All-Blacks that forms the basis of the play at the Gaiety – Alone It Stands.  Or whatever it’s called.  My brain is jellied from work, in its own boredom juices.

Even though you can hear the game and the crowd clearly from the kitchen – louder actually than on the television – the crowds are really well-behaved.  Consider that all of the pubs are overflowing with customers for hours before the game and each garbage drum is full of cider bottles and beer tinnies padded out by the grease spotted paper of takeaway joints there is no violence. Everyone is crammed into each other’s faces and slotted like a jigsaw into each other (especially on Hill 16) and emotions run high as people heatedly yell and scream in reponse to the moves of their teams.  Drunk people in each other’s faces would always make a fight in the states, and alcohol is definitely monitored, but here no such lunacy.  Amazing!

Why does this chair smell like rubbing alcohol?

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