November 2nd, 1999

A Day in the Life at The Clarence

It opened with her arrival at 7:00 am for a public area shift. When she walked into the lobby down the stairs to reception to get the keys, everyone froze. The same manager was on who’d reprimanded her for coming in for her shift by the front door once (that could have only arisen for a reason). When she left going up the stairs, she knew she was about to get…something, and turned to look down on him with a stare that could have snapped icicles. He kept the tremor out of his voice, just barely, confining it to utterly appalled.

                “Excuse me, but you cannot come down here in your street clothes!”

At 7:00 am. -When she only ever did so first thing to pick up the keys. It had took a full four weeks before anyone had dared to say a word to her about her “street clothes”, which were always impeccable, and he the manager opened with “Excuse me”? The ice queen could have laughed if she wasn’t busy, but instead of giving any it undue significance, that despite being the silent type even a manager might be so intimidated by her personality that it took him four weeks to correct her on a serious matter, she attributed it to their usual lack of a standard and general incompetence, which just made it more of an insult. It could have been addressed on day one politely so as to correct her, to total acquiescence on her part, rather than leading to her complacent enjoyment of the habit, and then being addressed as if she’d been all the time engaged in some sort of deliberate travesty of decorum that was her fault. She’d been publically castigated in front of the entire reception staff for what was in fact his own laxity (or timidity, depending). She didn’t come from a place so entrenched in classism and was less aware of its nuances. Ice he deserved, and ice they’d get, for they had not gained her respect. She came from a place where authority did manage to arise from actual merit. There was no emotion or malice in the stare; it was genuine ice. Once she was out of sight and waiting for the elevator, she jumped up and slammed herself into the door. There was more dignity in being exploited by your own family.

That day she got accosted by a manager named Nico when she was helping a woman with a genuine feminine emergency and trying to keep it private, as if she might be erranding drugs or doing something equally unsavoury. The washrooms included heroin remains from the night before. A new woman on her first day who she was training (and was well into middle age) was forced by Hilde to start with the toilets, wiping out her one plea for basic dignity.

Then she was approached from behind by a young Spanish man named Abraham in the study, because, it turned out, he was starting that day as a porter. He had a lot of questions; he was trying to cess the work environment. Then he pitched, “You’re pissed, aren’t you?” Ooh that opened a can of worms. Well, in the first place, the maids had just been put on the floors singly for two weeks straight, Gabrielle had quit from exhaustion, and Maria was back only by virtue of existing perpetually on painkillers, and still got reamed out for hesitating on what she might be capable of performing, aka rotating/flipping queen sized mattresses by herself. The staff in both the linen and public areas used to be double. “Whooo, that’s bad,” said Abraham. She did not notice Nico walking up behind them until she saw the look of complete horror on his face. Not because it was true, but for fear that a member of the public might ever hear her.

Then she went and saw Suede that night and tripped right out, just on the basis of the content alone. In one song the singer broke out of context to ask, “Can’t you feel her in your mind?” Another about how we do “the pills” to reach each other.