Hospitoholics Anonymous

February 21st, 2016 by Murray Barnes | Posted in Hotel Life, musings, Personal | 2 Comments »

My name is Murray, and I work in Hospitality. It has been six years since I took my first step behind the front desk, and while I sometimes hate myself for it, I. Just. Can’t. Stop.

This is my check in pod. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My check in pod is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My check in pod, without me, is useless. Without my check in pod, I am useless

I fell into hospitality entirely by accident. One summer, my university flatmate Tom told me tales of working at a fish processing plant in Shetland, and in particular how it was good money. Well, I like money, and I’d never been to Shetland, so I put in an application. I passed the phone interview quite easily, because it mostly consisted of a nice lady called Susan asking me how much I liked the smell of fish. So, the summer of 2007 I moved to Shetland to live with Tom and his mum, and began working a horrible, horrible job where I discovered exactly how much I don’t like the smell of fish.

While in Shetland, I met one of Tom’s friends who happened to work overnights in a local hotel there, and from what I could tell, his job basically involved watching movies from Netflix on his laptop while chatting to his American girlfriend on MSN Messenger. This struck me as a particularly great way to get paid. One day, while hanging around in the Job Centre in Lerwick, waiting for a friend to finish signing on, I decided to mess about with the PC and see what local jobs were available. The best result was for a hotel night porter. In Glasgow.

As you can see, the Job Centre have a bit of a different definition of Local than you and I might. View Larger Map

So, long story short, I called the number. Got offered an “interview” with the staffing agency, which turned out not so much to be an interview as a “Hey, you got the job!” kind of thing, and two days later Barry from the agency calls me and says “You need to report to the hotel tonight at 11pm to begin training.” So I did. I turned up at 11pm that night to discover that nobody from the agency had told the hotel I was coming in for training, so the auditor had basically done most of the job. Two nights later I was in charge of a 100 room hotel while the other agency staff member who was supposed to be in charge was asleep on the floor of the back office drunk.

I genuinely never thought I’d be good at the job itself. I was doing a Computer Science degree, and I thought I couldn’t stand people. The plan for my life was I’d graduate university and get some job in IT, turn up in shorts and t-shirt everyday, unshaven with a greasy ponytail, and probably go home and cry myself to sleep because of how much I’d grow to hate it.

Turns out I was wrong. I do OK at this job.

I intend to post some anecdotes about the different properties I’ve worked at in the past seven years over the next few months. I’ve written some of them before on the Hotels Subreddits, so even though I haven’t actually written a proper blog post since 2013 (!), I hope to be able to actually get something together to post here. I’m currently transitioning from one property to another and it has me looking back (morosely, since I’m going to miss my current team a great deal), so I figured it would be the ideal time to share some stories. It can’t be any worse than Heads in Beds surely.

In closing, I will leave you a video, without context, that could not have happened had I not decided that being paid to watch Netflix in a hotel overnight might be for me

Beefcasting USA

March 22nd, 2015 by Murray Barnes | Posted in Podcast | No Comments »

Holy carp, it’s nearly two years since I published anything to this blog.

Of course, it’s been many years since I’ve actually done anything.

Until now!

Paul and I recorded another podcast, and I am kind of an asshole to him in it.

You can find it over at timidelfdesigns, Paul’s blog and the official host of The Islay Beefcast.

The Long Suffering Elmo

April 30th, 2013 by Murray Barnes | Posted in musings, Photography | 6 Comments »

I was going through some of the photographs on my phone recently, and I began to realise I have a problem. Well, to be more precise, Katie’s dog Elmo has a problem, and that problem is me. I can’t help myself from doing something to him, then taking embarrassing pictures of him. Here are some highlights.

I promise I did not give him marijuana.

Ok, I didn’t do anything to him in this one, he just fell asleep with his tongue out, and it was so adorable I had to take a picture of it. Luckily he’s not friends with me on Facebook, or he’d realise just how much of a dick I am.

The old standard of putting things on top of him when he’s trying to sleep is always fun.

That’s an “I’m a Georgia voter” sticker from the last presidential election. Yup, I made him commit voter fraud. No wonder Obama got in. I hear he got 93% of the dog vote, probably because of all those rumours about Romney driving around with a dog on top of his car at all times

This is a serious life pro tip: draw some eyebrows on your dog. Literally everything they do after that point is hilarious. Everything. Especially that face they make while they poop.

Tattoos are also fun.

As is dressing them in your mother-in-law’s clothes.

This tattoo promotes incest.

Of course, it’s not just Elmo I annoy. There’s also Zoe, his sister, who he loves according to his last tattoo.

I caught Zoe snuggling with one of Katie’s soft toys. She was a little embarrassed. This is the slippery slope in action. Colorado allows gay marriage, and suddenly dogs are sleeping with cows. Political correctness gone mad, I say.

Zoe Potter and the Chamber of Why the Hell are you Drawing on me, Murray, you twit?

Zoe in her limited The Hobbit edition 3D glasses

And Elmo in his.

Zoe’s cute little hat.

Of course, these are sort of my dogs, in that they’re my wife’s parents, so that makes them basically mine. That means I kind of have the right to do things to them. Other people’s dogs, not so much. Does it stop me?

Does it heck as like. Sorry, Sam.

Murray, why do you hate America?

April 27th, 2013 by Murray Barnes | Posted in Music, musings, Personal, Photography | 7 Comments »

America confuses me. It’s not the big things that confuse me. I expect things over here to be different to what I’m used to. It’s subtle things that leave me scratching my head. Here’s an example.

First, what I’m used to in Scotland.

And here’s what they have in America.

It’s exactly the same, except for some reason it’s now Safelite. The feelings of comfort and home I expected to get from the familiar “Autoglass Repair, Autoglass Replace” is instead a futile sense of confused rage. The worst part is that Safelite is actually older than Autoglass, so technically they came first.

I can accept driving on the wrong side of the road, I expect their money to be different, I’m becoming OK with the idea that service workers are basically slaves paid about $2 an hour, so I have to massively inflate the price of my meal so they can afford to feed their kids. But pronouncing basil as bay-sil? No, you can fuck right off. Also, I’m not sure that I like that my wife makes fun of me for pronouncing the oi in tortoise.

There is a sort of point to this self-indulgent pre-amble. I went to a concert last night. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performed on the beach at Callaway Gardens, and it was wonderful.

We couldn’t have axed for nicer weather. We had a picnic of chicken salad in croissant rolls with ice-cold raspberry lemonade and fresh fruit salad. I’m not sure when I suddenly became that posh.

Here’s the thing, though. As great as the music was, some parts left me with a little sour taste in my mouth. When the conductor raised his conductor stick to begin the concert, and the first notes started, everybody around me stood. I assumed this was a polite stand-and-applaud to acknowledge the start of the festivities. No, it was the American National Anthem. With the exception of the four old ladies sitting in front of me, everybody else was on their feet with their hand over their hearts, and they were all singing along.

I’ve not been to many classical concerts in the UK, but only one of them came close to that level of patriotism, and that was Proms in the Park, where it does come with a side of irony. At least the British know they look ridiculous when they attempt to be patriotic, and there’s always somebody in the audience with a silly horn.

You wouldn’t get a silly horn in America. And even if you did, the silly horner would probably be beaten up and somebody on the internet would hope they get raped. “Somebody died for you to have the freedom to parp your silly horn. How dare you exercise that freedom, you nazi?”

I had a similar moment of unease after the intermission, when the orchestra played “Armed Forces Salute”, which had the theme tunes to the different armed forces arranged in one suite. That in itself, I don’t have a problem with, as the music was pretty good.

It was the suggestion to stand during your song if you, your parents or your grandparents had served so that everybody else could applaud you. (I will admit, it was kinda funny when nobody stood for the coastguard. Are they even a real military service?) There’s a time and a place to honour the men who serve in the military, and of course they do an incredibly tough job, but I’m not sure the constant military worship in this country is such a good thing, and I’m definitely not sure that a concert is the best place to do that. I dunno, maybe if you want to do something for your troops, how about ending your wars and letting them come home? (I’m so brave).

The worst part of not liking these displays of patriotism, and questioning them is that people do attack you. They may be trying to be nice while they do it, such as implying that it’s OK for me to do it because I’m foreign, but any American who likes my status on Facebook questioning it should be ashamed. I mean, thanks for that patronisation and all. I don’t really know how to end this post, so here’s another picture of the concert.

One other oddity was a sunset as spectacular as that, while this played.

God Bless America, I guess?

Episode Two of RC:OWE

January 28th, 2013 by Murray Barnes | Posted in Film, Personal, Rooster Cogburn, Travel | 5 Comments »

After Paul and I had finished Episode One, we returned from University to Perth for the summer. Looking to add a little variety into the lineup, Paul and I piled around to our friend Richard’s house, and recorded us some narration in his bedroom. The following day (I think), we went on location to Blair Drummond Safari Park, and filmed us some animals.

I asked Richard for his thoughts on the episode.

I’ll be honest, I remembered so little of this day until seeing the clip, except the rollercoaster. It was all made up on the spot, which shows, and it was the most I could do not to laugh or giggle constantly. That being said it was fun, the Micra trying to drive, the animals, and the fairground.

But oh god. Why Murray? Why? I cringe watching, but in a good way Remember the looks I got with that terrible facepaint? It was probably tesco value facepaint, and was only just noticable, but I got very strange stares from the old fogies out with their kids. The roller coaster espcially, I felt like a twat, but then again it was a free rollercoaster, can’t be sniffed at. It was a lovely day, surprisingly sunny (did you choose the day esp for that, or just lucky?) and we had a lovely time dancing about, getting strange looks and making an ultimately feeble comedy wildlife show (I love it and you really though).

Let’s see, what do I like about this episode? I like that during my narration, Paul or Richard got bored and set off a guitar tuner, and I shouted out that there was a fire, because it sounded almost nothing like a fire alarm. Later, when we got back to Glasgow, Paul knocked up a more fire alarmy sound, and other flatmate Tom, who’d go on to star in the final episode, did some yelling. I like that Richard spent the entire day looking like a twat, and you can’t even tell that he’s wearing face paint on camera. I like that I took so long to edit this episode that the original date for the competition had passed, so we seamlessly recorded a new date.

This was a better episode than episode one. It could still have done with a lot of work, such as a script.

By the way, I did pay for him to go on the fun fair rides, but he and Paul both paid their own entry into the park, and I am grateful they were willing to do that for my terrible, vain project.

The only other thing of note about this episode is the clip from a music video. I decided the easiest way to do that would be create an entire music video and then cut a short clip from that. Paul threw together some appropriately terrible music, and I made this with it:

I don’t know what on earth I was thinking with that cheesy paint splash cut between shots thing. Richard had this to say:

I had never seen the music video till today. All I remember is those stupid headphones falling out my ears, spent half of the damn footage putting them back in. Luckily we did find a relatively hidden place for that, so no one was lucky enough to see my sexy, sexy dancing. Also what the hell is with my beard? It doesn’t join up, did I think that was cool? Bah.

Jeremiah Damnation however remembers this as the best day of his short miserable life.

So, that was episode two. Episode three will be up and reviewed later, when Tom has gotten back to me with his thoughts on the episode.