I was fortunate enough to not lose anyone close to me on 9/11. It doesn't mean I wasn’t affected by it; we all were. It was the darkest day in American history and I watched it all unfold, firsthand. I have plenty of friends who lost loved ones, so as a New Yorker, I’m obviously sensitive to the subject. But I don't blame people for wanting to go down there to see it for themselves.
While I was working as a Concierge, though, there wasn’t much to see at all. It had basically become a construction site for the new World Trade Center or “Freedom Tower”, with sporadic posters to visit the 9/11 museum when it opens, which never happened while I did that job. Before they started working on the new buildings, there was a large wall that surrounded the entire property. On it was a timeline of the cleanup and rescue effort, along with artwork and tributes made by people from New Yorkers and people from all around the world. It was perfect. But once the reconstruction commenced, they ripped it all down and threw up “coming soon, the 9/11 museum” posters. Nice. They get rid of a moving and heartfelt memorial that really captured the spirit of Americans and New Yorkers in favor of an advertisement for some museum that visor and fanny-pack wearing fuckheads will sink 20 or 30 bucks to get into. Good one.
I told this to any guest that would listen, but they didn’t give a flying fuck about what I had to say on the matter. I don’t live here or anything. Anyways, here are the worst 9/11 inquiries that I’ve dealt with. Believe it or not, the vast majority of these golden nuggets came from the mouths of white Americans:
-“Is there a gift shop at Ground Zero?”
My Concierge friend, @TwittsMcGee, had the best response: "Yeah, it’s called Century 21."
Century 21 is a massive department store located across the street from Ground Zero. You may find the occasional sweet deal there, only you have to obtain it by climbing over hoards of drooling eeeehhhhs and their shitty children. No thanks.
“Is that the place where those 2 buildings fell down?”
I looked at her and made a split decision to "accidentally" send her in the opposite direction to the Bronx for that one. Limey cunt. Never saw her again after that.
“How much is it to get into Ground Zero?”
-A sketchy looking dude from Arizona that reeked like pot:
Dude- "Do they check bags at Ground Zero?"
Me- "That's a scary question, sir."
He said nothing and walked away. I nearly called 911, but I figured he must have been trying to figure out if he should bring his weed or not. Still, I never saw him in the hotel after that, and I was paranoid about it for nearly a week. Can you imagine if he actually did something and I didn't do anything to stop it? You would have had to put me on suicide watch.
-This is the only French-related 9/11 grievance that I have. He was your typical French 30-something male. It wasn't offensive, just really amusing to me:
Him- "Ehhh. Where is Twin Center?"
He puts up a peace sign.
Him- “Ehhh. No. Ehhh… duex."
He put up the peace sign again. Then it occurred to me that he wasn’t using the peace sign. He was standing his index and middle fingers straight up next to each other, forming two towers.
-I think this guy was from Italy:
Him- "Ehhhh. What to see at Ground Zero?"
-This isn't a moronic inquiry, just a serious fucking close call.
It's common sense that screwing around with a registered guest is a big no-no. It's grounds for immediate dismissal. Being a single guy in the hotel industry is tough, especially if you're working nights and can charm the pants off of people, like this guy (it's a visual). I've had plenty of temptations (see: My Iceland Princess. Coming soon.), though have yet to grow balls big enough to act on them. This, however, doesn't mean that I can't flirt.
One night I was working the door and a cute girl from Holland came outside for a cigarette. I don't smoke anymore, but I keep a lighter in my doorman jacket in case someone needs a light. It's a perfect ice breaker to segway into a conversation that puts dollars in my pocket, like recommending a restaurant or a private car back to the airport. She asked for a light, and we struck up a nice little conversation. She looked to be in her mid-twenties and was here with her extended family. I flirted with her a little, made her laugh a bunch of times, and in my head began to think of scenarios where I could hang out with her without getting into trouble, like I always do when I find myself doing well with an attractive female guest. She had been to Ground Zero earlier in the day, so we started talking about 9/11.
Me- "Yeah, it was a scary day. I was in high school at the time, and no one told us what was going on till around 10am. It's not like we could have just went on Facebook on our phones and got the news. But we all knew something was up, and for some reason, the faculty wasn't telling us anything."
Guest- "Yeah, I was 5."
Me- "And you know what the messed up part about- Wait, WHAT?!?"
I screamed "WHAT?!?" in her face like Lil Jon finding out that he's NOT the father.
Me- "How old are you?"
Guest- "I'm 16."
There may have been a series of awkward "umms" and "errrs" before I pretended to retrieve a taxi for another guest.
Me- "You shouldn't smoke."
I walked away. To my credit, she looked like she could have been at least 25, and was brazenly smoking a cigarette in front of the hotel with her family inside. And she had a pack of Marlboros that she clearly purchased from here. I smoked Marlboros for 4 years, and I know the difference between an international pack and one from the States.
But here I was, thinking that I was doing well with a girl who was in Kindergarten when I was a senior in high school. 5 years from now, that makes me awesome. Today, it makes me a pedophile.