I guess you can add this to the list of things that I never thought would happen. The labor shortage is obviously a real thing, as we deal with issues in lots of ways. The service industry has been hit especially hard. That must have been the case when we tried to check-in at our hotel ahead of the Eric Church concert Saturday night.

We ended up getting last-minute tickets to the show in Minneapolis. I rearranged my work schedule so that we wouldn't have to rush so much to get to the show in time. We were making good time and we were hoping to get a bite to eat and some drinks before heading to US Bank Stadium.

I'm not going to say which hotel it is, because it isn't really important. I'm not trying to shame them. I'm sure it's happened at other hotels, as the service industry is really having a hard time filling jobs. The reason I'm writing about it is that it's just another strange sign of the new normal we are living in.

Anyway, we found a parking spot at the hotel and headed toward the lobby. As soon as the lobby doors opened, I let out a quiet expletive. The lobby was packed. It was like a waiting line for a ride at Disney World. There were about a hundred or more people standing in a line that wrapped around the entire lobby.

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We got in line and started waiting. 10 minutes went by and we haven't even moved. There were two employees checking in people at the front, but one of them had left crying. Apparently, some jerk chewed her out at the front desk and she left upset. Which then really slowed things down. Yelling at someone isn't going to make things better, and it's so sad that some people take it out on employees. It's not their fault that they are short-staffed.

Fortunately, we were standing in line with some pretty cool people. A couple of ladies behind us had brought a "happy hour" bag full of seltzers and were passing them out. We made the best of it. We ended up "pre-gaming" in the hotel check-in line which was not exactly what we had planned. We got along so well with them that we ended up sharing an Uber to US Bank Stadium when we finally did get checked in. Hi, Abby & Lindsey if you're reading this! I think we still owe you a drink!

Ken Hayes
Ken Hayes

At one point, I thought about just leaving and getting something to eat and coming back later. Fortunately, another gentleman in line told me not to do that because that's what he did an hour ago, and the line never got shorter. Sure enough, when we finally got to the desk and checked in, the line was even longer than when we started.

The hotel employee that checked us in was super apologetic. She was nice and comped our parking which was a $20 value. They did the best they could and kept a pleasant attitude in a real tough situation. For the longest time there was only one guy checking people in, and despite the stress of having a huge line of frustrated people, he kept smiling the whole time. I was impressed with him.

I honestly don't know if this was just poor planning by management, or if they couldn't find people to work. Maybe it was a little of both?

Another problem that this hotel was facing was trying to turn rooms over in time. I've seen this happen at some other hotels, even here in Duluth, where they have struggled to find housekeepers. In some cases, management has had to step in and turn rooms to keep operations moving. Several people in line had said they tried to check in earlier but the rooms weren't ready at check-in time.

We are used to planning time for traffic, detours, transportation rides, and waiting in line at concerts. I guess we have to plan ahead for possible wait times to get into your hotel room now, too. Just remember to be kind to the staff, they're the ones showing up to work.

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