Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fear and loathing 4

Most of the time I was working in Vermont, I was put up at the company’s guest house, a long ranch style house on the company’s campus.  It was within walking distance, although I didn't walk it, on account of the often life-threatening weather. The guest house was fairly Spartan, with rooms having a nice queen size bed, and a window out the back where you could see the woods, a hell of a lot of snow, and later, some nice green grass.  Also you could see the lady who came from somewhere in North Carolina every week who would be out there smoking.


The first time I was in the guest house was when I interviewed at the company. I had come in the night before and was left there by the company driver.  The room was on the main floor, and was kind of noisy, in that there was a heating/air conditioning unit which kept coming on.  The reason it kept coming on was that it was bitter cold out.  The room itself was quite warm, and the windows could not be opened – in fact there was a storm window in addition to the regular window.  The rooms all had a tiny circular table, and a couple of not very comfortable chairs.  There was a clock radio, a chest of drawers, a phone, a well equipped bathroom with travel-sized toiletries, including the smallest tube of toothpaste imaginable. 

Eventually I learned the trick of how to make the heat not come on.  But not for the first week or so, and you can’t use earplugs when you have to get up in the morning.  And I learned that the heat in the bathroom was enough to warm up the bedroom.

The guest house had a fancy breakfast, with pancakes or French toast, cereal, fruit, Vermont maple syrup, and so forth.   I would usually opt for an English muffin and some scrambled eggs, but eventually I taught one of the ladies how to poach eggs, so I could have those.  The breakfast was consistent, but the interesting part was who was there.  The company is such a difficult place to get to, that they routinely put up visitors overnight, and I ran into some very senior people from different companies.  Some of them were virulent in their comments about Vermont.

Lounge on the first floor. Never saw anyone use it.

When I returned for my first full week of work, I was put in a downstairs room.  There were half a dozen guest rooms off the hallway, and since these rooms were almost underground they temperature was better regulated.  The lower floor had a small kitchen, with a fridge and a microwave. There were cold drinks and ice available, and coffee making facilities.  There was a lounge with a TV – an old low definition television. I never used it.  Some old Naugahyde furniture completed the look.

The cookies in that jar were fabulous

Clubby, don't you think?

The problem I had in the guest house was sleeping.  At first, I had problems with the unusual noises, such as from the room heater.  Then I had problems because the smoke alarm in the hall was running low on its battery, and kept chirping.  I have experience with this!  I got out there, got that thing down, took out the battery, and left it lying on the floor.

The next night it was chirping again.  They had just put it back.  So this time, to make it a little easier for them, I put the battery in the trash.  And then complained at breakfast.  I had smoke alarm problems a couple of times.

Subsequently, I had problems with people who would set the alarm in their guest room for some ungodly hour, and then leave it set after they departed.  Guess who would have to get up and shut it off?

Another difficulty was, as it got to be spring, there were some wild animals around that made a lot of noise.  I couldn’t tell you what they were.  And the walls in the rooms were absolutely paper thin.  If they had permitted TV’s in there, it would have been a disaster.  I could hear the person in the next room’s phone conversations, and I could sometimes even hear them typing on their computer.

Guest rooms

Another amusement was that they had these tall light poles in the parking lot and all around the property, but not one of those lights worked.  I had a conversation with the manager of the guest house about it, and she just thought I hated Vermont.  I explained that I routinely got in at 10:30 or 11:00 PM on Sunday night and was tired of using my phone as a flashlight.  They eventually fixed all the lights. 

The saving grace about the guest house was that it had good, fast, free wi-fi.  I really appreciated that.

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