Sunday, December 27, 2009

Celebrate... The Shocking Conclusion

More locally of course we had our annual Christmas Party here in the lobby, which I've briefly described (see, State Of Affairs). What I was not able to describe was the employees, or staff party that took place afterwards, simply because the staff did not have the good sense to invite me. However, during the time since that day I have been able to garner much info on said affair, and am now able to reveal the shocking truth with a certain degree of accuracy.
I've stated before that I found our little party in the lobby a tad depressing, but I did not realize why precisely. Now I know.
I felt like when I was a small child and segregated to the "Child's Table" at holiday events, away from the adults at the "Adult Table," where all of the real fun was happening. I no longer feel this way.
Let's explore this systematically, shall we?
Our little soiree began when Erin threw me out of her office after I offered to help fill gift bags.
"You can't see what's in the bags, Rick." Like I gave a rat's ass what was in the freaking bags! I left the party even before they were handed out.
She didn't mind my helping bring out the chips, dips, cookies, pie, and soda though, which I dutifully placed on the counter just outside the kitchen which was where the food would be served. I was also given the job of slicing into pieces a giant chocolate chip cookie, and an apple pie, very delicate work which I handled with cool aplomb.
Paul soon arrived with two big boxes of chicken wings, one spicy, and one regular, which would be the main component of our forthcoming meal. Soon Erin's friend (I don't know her name because Erin didn't bother to introduce her to us, or if she did I didn't hear it, but she was here to play the guitar and harmonica (Bob Dylan fashion), and sing Christmas songs to us. She had come last year as well, and she was wonderful.
The flier inviting everybody from both the Olympia and Las Americas hotels explicitly stated there would be no resident meeting this month, and especially at this party. Paul ignored his own dictate however, and began by making several announcements, passing around a sign up sheet for those interested in going bowling and ice skating. I wasn't interested in either, having almost killed myself the last time we ice skated, and I'm about as good at bowling as our current President.
Paul finished with his business, and began serving the hot wings, asking everyone if they preferred spicy or regular. Priscilla, the manager from the Olympia served the giant cookie and pie I had cut, and one of new residents chips and dip. Erin's friend began playing Christmas songs, and Erin even joined her for a Christmas duet. Lovely.
Now if you know anything about chicken wings, dear readers, you know that they are very small. One has to eat a lot of them in order to feel well fed.
That day Paul gave out six or seven to each individual, just enough to get a person hungry for more. I ate my wings, had some of that cookie, and not being able to stand the excitement any longer took off and went to my box.
I'm almost positive that the festivities continued without me. Erin handed out her precious gift bags. I'm not sure exactly what the criteria was that allowed a resident to receive a bag, but I do know that Hardy got one. I told him not to tell me what had been inside it in order to maintain Erin's wish that I not know.
This two hour (the event was billed to last from noon until 2:00) "G" rated event petered out sometime before 1:30, because that's when I went out to do some shopping, and the party had dissipated, Hardy sitting alone in the lobby watching "Law and Order," with his freaking gift bag.
Okay, let's contrast that with the Skid Row Housing Trust's Staff Christmas Party, or the "Adult Table," in this comparison, which may or may not be viable according to one's point of view.
The following description has been related to me by several eye witnesses, exhaustive interviews with the restaurant's staff, local news reports, and police and fire department documentation. Still, because I was not there in person (thank God, it turns out) this account remains rather sketchy due in a large part to quality of the varying interviews and mental states of the witnesses at the time of the event.
It all began innocently enough at Yxta Cocina Mexicana, Mexican restaurant, on the nearby corner of 6th and Central. We here at the Las Americas can plainly see this establishment from our third floor windows, and indeed a crowd gathered when the fire trucks began to arrive.
Case manager Paul picked up his lovely fiance, Farida, from Union Station before joining the Employee's shindig, and arrived a bit late (The party was scheduled to begin at 3:00) after the appetizers and salad had been served, which was unfortunate as they are both vegetarians and the rest of the catered affair consisted mostly of meat dishes.
Most everyone concerned with housing and support services for Skid Row Housing Trust were present and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I will restrict my comments to those who I know on a personal basis. My lovely case manager, Erin, Paul and Farida, Tianna, our manager, Rachel and Demitri from the Abby hotel were all in attendance. Another Erin, a pretty, buxom redhead who at one time interned at the Las Americas, and who had participated in the Garden Club and Support Groups. Molly, the Event Coordinator; Evelyn and Craig, both Erin's and Paul's bosses were there, as well as their bosses, Andre, the Housing Director, and Mike, the Executive Director, the Big Boss, the Head Honcho, the Great Enchilada.
Speaking of Enchiladas, there were plenty of those in attendance as well. By the time Paul and Freida arrived the tables were decked out with enchiladas, chalupas, apple chicken quesadillas, chimichangas, tacos, burritos, empanadas, chipotle grilled chicken tortillas with guacamole, Baja bruschettas, chicken breast and mango salsa, chicken skewers with Chile and lime, tuna and shrimp Ceviche, Mexican Paella with chicken and seafood, taquitos, grilled polenta, spicy Mexican style chicken Chili Tikka Masala, fajitas, chips and salsa.
And we got freaking hot wings!
Alcohol was involved I'm sorry to say. Beer flowed freely. Margaritas, wine spritzers... there was no holding back. The food was consumed, the drinks absorbed liberally. The Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie was served for desert, but by that time the singing had started.
Karaoke I mean. And I genuinely resent this. I've suggested a karaoke party at the hotel for the last year with no results whatsoever. When I heard that the staff had enjoyed this particular activity, seemingly with a snap of their drunken fingers, I vowed to rent a karaoke machine myself, get a few pizzas and some soda, and have our own freaking party. No staff included again. Sorry Erin. You had your chance and you blew it.
Alright, back to the bacchanalia.
Paul got up and sang about five songs, most mild rock, finishing with a rousing rendition of "I Was Looking Back to See If You Were Looking Back to See If I Was Looking Back to See if You Were Looking Back at Me."
Demitri sang Country Western, a little Jimmy Buffett and Roger Miller, with an encore of "Velcros Arms, Teflon Heart," and another of, "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away."
The alcohol continued to flow freely. Erin consumed beer after beer, intern Erin a few more than that. Everybody else didn't mind a taste of two themselves.
By this time the senior management, being wise in such matters, had begun to take off, leaving the younger staff to continue their wild debauchery.
The two Erin's surrounded Paul's fiance, Farida on stage, in sort of a Farida sandwich, with her as the meat and the Erin's as the bread. Clearly inebriated, they began to sing out in a somewhat slurred fashion, "The Beer I Had for Breakfast is Coming Back for Lunch," finishing with Harry Nilsson's timeless classic, and I can't believe they had this in the karaoke machine, "You're Breaking My Heart," which of course continues with the lyrics, "You're Tearing It Apart... So Fuck You!"
Now things were beginning to get out of hand. Several fights erupted between case managers of the Rainbow and Boyd hotels. Intern Erin was seen making out with the female manager from the St. George. My Erin passed out on the bar. Someone knocked over a table with those Hurricane Lamps on it and a fire broke out. The restaurants staff called the police and fire departments.
And then the clowns arrived, carrying off Farida who has not been heard from since. They would have gotten Erin (they usually do) as well but she had fallen off the bar and was partially hidden from view.
Freaking clowns!
We here at the Las Americas were plainly horrified witnessing this distressing conflagration, black pillars of thick smoke billowing from the windows and entrance, police cruisers with their flashing lights dotted the parking lot, firemen rushing in and out, rescuing SRHT employees by the boat load. These images will stay with me for the rest of my days.
The whole unfortunate incident made the nightly television news, and morning papers. Erin's face (it doesn't matter which) was plastered across the Metro Section of the Los Angeles Times, grinning idiotically at the photographer, while trying to remove her blouse.
Interestingly, our lovely Erin was seen later that evening by Hardy, stumbling around the 1st floor hallways of the Las Americas dressed as Santa Claus.
Quite frankly I'm shocked and not a little bit appalled by the behavior of everyone concerned with this spectacle, and am ashamed to be associated with them in anyway. Disgusted really. Excuse me while I projectile vomit.
There... all done now. Boy it's going to take a while to clean that up. Shouldn't have eaten that abalone pizza. Well, I better get to it.
Good day to you all.

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