Punching the Clock: Checking out

I was lost on a sea of gravy, floating in a raft made of waffle fries when the desk bell rang. Ding, ding. Get up, Mike, you’re not allowed to sleep here, a voice said. I woke up confused and drooling. Where am I? Why is Todd Campbell standing over me, looking un-impressed? Oh yeah. We haven’t even started the overnight shift at the Super 8 Motel and I’m already sleeping. Dreaming vividly, in fact. It was actually a recurring nightmare. Eventually I eat the raft, get rescued by Fudgie the ice cream cake whale, abandoned by Fudgie (I nibbled a little at his cookie crust), and wash up on a hostile mashed potato island covered with dinner roll boulders and cascading butter water falls. It always ends just as the island’s evil turkey queen is about to use me as a poultry thermometer.

Not everyone, obviously, is cut out to be a motel night auditor. Campbell’s been at it for seven years, the last two with the Super 8 in Norwich. It’s his job – and he’s a solo artist, folks – to make sure the motel runs smoothly at the most critical time: When guests are trying to get some sleep.

“You want to make the guests feel as at home as possible,” said Campbell. “You want to provide them with a stress-free environment.”

Campbell starts at midnight. He says goodbye to the evening staff on their way out and then the place is all his. It’s quiet. Eighteen of the motel’s forty-seven rooms are occupied. I asked if he ever gets creeped out running the place all alone. (I’d see a set of pale twin girls drenched in blood around every corner, them saying, “Come play with us, Mikey.” But then again, my brain is fried from years of abusing horror movies and Mountain Dew).

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