Marissa Explains It All #1 – The Night’s Watch

It’s odd to have a blog again.

Not because of any societal progression or technological advancement reason, but because I feel like I never stopped writing blogs, more or less.

I’m in the tail end of graduate school, in what’s called a low-res program. In essence, I attend school for ten days during the summer, and the rest is online. With weekly journals (daily during the summer) and other writing exercises where we’re basically blogging our thoughts, I suppose the only difference is that I’ll be graded by trolls finding my existence repulsive instead of professors dealing with my thoughts on their extensive reading assignments. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless. Though, with at least with one I have to, at minimum, feign giving a shit.

I should wrap up my MFA by the end of the summer and hopefully move on to something on the other side of the post-secondary educational equation. Until then, my job keeping the night’s watch is what pays the bills.

No, this isn’t yet another Game of Thrones hot-take, but rather a fancy way of describing my day (night?) job: working third shift at a hotel. Technically it’s called the night audit, but given that the extent of my auditing is printing out reports and putting them in a folder, I prefer calling it the night’s watch. Mostly because “glorified babysitting” could be taken the wrong way.

Some night auditors have very busy shifts, especially those who:

A. Work in a hotel downtown of a city.

B. Have a bar/restaurant for which they’re also running audit.

Fortunately, I do not have either. I say fortunately because my capacity to deal with people is significantly lower than it used to be. Years of retail and the worst of humanity this time of year took care of most of that. That and the same twelve songs on repeat for hours at a time for two straight months, let’s just say I’m glad that the now-former assistant manager showed me how to shut off the ambient music.

And why shouldn’t I? For the most part, I don’t talk to anyone until 6am when people start coming down for breakfast and/or coffee, and by then, there’s only an hour left. Those other seven hours are where I get most of my homework and writing done, because it’s seldom-interrupted silence, except for the television by the breakfast area if I decide to have it on. Did you know that back-to-back reruns of Bob’s Burgers play at three different times during the night on cable? Also the music channels (MTV, MTV2, VHI, CMT, and BET) mostly play 90s sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, Living Single, etc. Except for CMT, that plays four minutes of a movie between every commercial break.

This is also where I learned that commercials from when I was a teenager are still a thing. Remember LiveLinks? Anyone who stayed up watching Comedy Central or other channels back in the early 2000s might. They still exist. LiveLinks was (totally not phone sex) voicemail dating, I think, and I’m impressed they’ve managed to stay around this long. I was expecting to see one of those Girls Gone Wild ads with the island music any time. They still run ads for 1800-PHONE-SEX or some equivalent of that too.

The TV is normally on one of the ESPN networks, so when I don’t find anything of interest (or neutral background noise), I’ll flip back to that, and those ads are pretty reflective of what demographic they’re trying to market.

“This generation of men is weak, buy this pill so you’ll get your testosterone back up to MANLY levels! It’s definitely not a boner pill, it’s a MAN pill!”

“Wear these sunglasses so you can see better. See how this guy is in fatigues? That’s because they’re MILITARY-grade sunglasses! It’s like Modern Warfare, but for real, and you’re looking for BALD EAGLES!”

“Use this camera to stop your cleaning lady from stealing. I’m a cop, it’s a cop cam, be a MAN and catch people stealing!”

“Our dads had more testosterone than we do. What are you doing right now? Drinking craft beer? Watching a movie? Caring about something? MAN UP! Take this powder and be a MAN!”

Essentially, do all this stuff so you’re horny enough to change the channel back and call LiveLinks already? Who knows. It’s amusing though. They’re Powerthirst ads without the irony.

On some occasions, there might still be one or two check-ins yet to arrive. A good bit of the time, they’ve just flown in. It’s Minnesota in the winter, so if they’ve come from anywhere to the south, a comment about the cold or snow is almost guaranteed. During a particularly hellacious storm recently, a guest complained to me about the snow, I suppose as if I was supposed to give her a discount or something for my inability to tailor the weather to her needs.

On rarer but notable nights, though, a particular kind of couple will come in. One will be a woman I recognize, because she’s been here before with someone else, and the other will be a nervous man barely speaking above a whisper while looking down, like he’s at a porn store trying to pass off something he’s buying as being for a friend, like the people working there don’t hear that excuse every day.

Apparently they think we don’t know what’s going on, but… We do. As long as they’re not hurting anyone and they’re paying the person they’ve hired, we couldn’t care less. When they leave an hour and a half later after checking in at 11:30pm, that’s also usually a pretty good sign, but once again, we don’t care. At all.

That’s also to say we know the difference between someone hiring a sex worker and someone being trafficked, so don’t come at me with that.

Maybe this was a weird introductory first blog, but the quietness of the night and the particular behavior of advertising and customers is an interesting snapshot of the mindset of certain people. Also a canvas from which most future posts will be written, so all that to say, it’s a pleasure to be here, and I look forward to getting to know some of you.