So if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I left Mount Zion hotel 3.5 months ago. Ruth, my third-level ulpan teacher, had suggested I move to a brand new hotel that was, at the time, still not open. Being so prone to suggestions as I am, I headed on over to one of their cattle-call style interview days.
The hotel is called Orient, and it is a part of the Isrotel chain. Isrotel was the same chain I worked for during my first two months down south in Israel. We started off by having classes in the future meeting rooms of the hotel four stories below ground. After a month+ of that, we were sent out to other hotels in the chain for experience. I spent most of our month out on the road at the Dead Sea property but also had a half week in Mitzpe Ramon.
The training classes were mostly, retrospectively, not that great. It is nice to know the company history, but that was only a couple of hours on one day. The other courses I can hardly remember. The time we spent out at the other properties I feel was good. We were thrown into the system and had to learn quickly the computer software used by Isrotel. Those of us who picked it up only had to tweek the property specific information when we returned to Jerusalem.
So the building itself: it is gorgeous. A beautifully done central, 10 story building with an additional four stories below. The exterior merges the famous Jerusalem limestone with modern, sleek, city hotel design. We have a long, elliptical entrance way made of glass where reception sits. And just outside (but connected to the main building through underground tunnels) sits two historically renovated Knights Templar buildings which will be our executive suites. There is also an additional two buildings that are tucked just out of sight that will be rentable apartments. There is an indoor pool, as well as one on the roof of the hotel with views of the whole city. This place is truly going to be something special.
I say ‘going to be’ and not ‘is’ because it is still being built. We are, after all, still in the middle east. Deadlines are more of suggested dates really. But, thanks to a deal with the government’s tourism ministry, the hotel opened before it should have.
So, we are having a rather bumpy soft opening. It is not all that fun because the problems are usually fundamental issues that should never be allowed to happen to guests. But alas, nothing to do about that now.
I will say though, I really do love the diversity of this company. It is quite literally a tower of babel in my mind. We reached so high (for Jerusalem) and have such a view, that naturally there would be a cornucopia of languages and cultures that follow.
There is the mainstays of ‘mainstream’ Israeli culture (if you can even try to define that): we have the Misrachi Jews, the Ashkenazim, there are the secular people and the kippot-wearing-not-working-on-shabbat types. But then things are just spiced up a bit. We have a sizable Russian and Ukrainian population (which, please if you don’t know which group someone may belong in, do NOT assume Russian… it could end awkwardly for you). They tend to keep to themselves and usually need translations from Russian to English and then their defacto language captains will translate into the appropriate language. We have the quite, hardworking Ethiopians who despite having been a part of Israeli society for at least a generation or two, still seem to be held back at arms length. Similarly, we have a sizable force of Palestinians/Israeli Arabs. They are generally eager to talk in English and always seem to be having a better day. There are also the few Spanish speakers who flow between the communities with the ease of a Swiss ambassador while always switching right back into Spanish when they get the chance. The French are also present and accounted for, although being that they are in the midst of being the ‘newest’ wave of immigrants, they tend to have only wait staff positions (one of my friends from the ulpan being in this exact position) And of course, there is the American delegation. Despite my resistance, I have seemed to allow myself to start a few friendships with some folks from the old country.
Quick aside: I say resistance because one of the very few factors of integration into Israeli society is not living in a little ghetto of others from your old country. It is why I have chosen to never have American roommates and why I try to go out of my way to not have American friends yet.
Back to babel: Along with the cultural and language differences, babel brings confusion. There are departments who just mesh wonderfully and seem to be off on the right foot (here’s looking at you lobby restaurant crew). But for most of the departments it is … a bumpy start. You have those who are trying to assert dominance in the race to replace the inevitable group of middle management who are only here to open and will return back to their home properties after a few months. You also have those who managed to hide their inabilities through all the pre-opening work who are now stumbling and falling. It is frustrating to be a part of the opening staff for a new hotel. But I think it will be rewarding if we can just make it through the first year. I mean, we have only been opened for two weeks and we are already seeing some leave on their own and I have heard the rumblings of others who are nearing the chopping block.
So that is where I’m at in work life right now. Frustrating as hell and interesting as fuck. I just hope to keep my cards close to my chest and play the right hand when it comes time.
As for personal life…. awkward comes to mind. Truth be told I haven’t had much a life this calendar year. I was working full time and going to ulpan 5 days a week. Then towards the end of the ulpan and a couple of weeks after I was out at the Dead Sea. Then the hotel was getting closer and finally opened so I have been working 6 days a week, usually more than 8 hours a day.
I did go on an impromptu date two or three weeks ago with a Russian immigrant. He seemed like he could have been a good friend but he was 5 years older and was trying to move things way to fast for my comfort level. (college me would be in shock if he read that.) When I get home from work I’m usually way to exhausted to do anything social and have escaped into binge watching series online. I am usually more comfortable when I am taken away to whatever world I am watching online than I am in my own reality. My weight has creeped up again, my hair is thinning/balding and my 30th birthday is not helping me feel like I have time to get a handle on this thing called life. And with all the changes going on in my life and the world in general, I feel like I have some OCD issues I need to get looked at. That wasn’t even something I realized until this week when one of my good work friends just straight up said that I have OCD after I made a joke about it. So that is interesting. I suppose it makes sense. This past year I’ve felt so powerless over so much crap that has happened in life that I guess it is natural to try to assert power of the small things I can? That sounds like rationalizing… Well, like I said, the word awkward comes to mind when I think about my personal life.
That’s all for now, good job for reading this far.