Writer. Actor. Filmmaker. #Doorman.
For the sake of my career and sanity, I have moved on from the hotel world. For inquiries, contact Chris Russell directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Pocket Change/Faith Restored
I don't normally work Thursdays, but I was covering for a buddy that had worked a few Saturdays for me during the summer while I was binge-drinking at the Jersey shore. Thursday's always suck for the doorman because it's not a big "out" day, so I avoid working them. As usual, I was hovering around the $50 mark for the evening at 7pm, where things completely die and I embark on the Lonely Road to Midnight. At 7:01pm, a middle-aged woman pulls up in a older-model Honda CRV. She's frantic, but polite, and asks for valet parking. I give her the valet parking rundown, which is $35 per 24 hours, no ins and outs, and if it goes over 24 hours, they tack on another day. "I'm late for a show at Carnegie Hall that started at 7, how long will it take to valet the car?" she asked, in that "I'm trying not to be a pain in the ass" tone. "I don't really have time to check in and unload." Always the opportunist, I would usually pull the stunt where I pretend that it would be a huge stretch of the rules to leave the car in the loading zone, while letting someone know the value of a parking spot in mid-town Manhattan. It usually makes for a $10-$20 tip. Seeing that she was talking to me like a human being, I had one of those "what if this were my mother?" moments. I wasn't going to make any money that night anyway, so I abandoned all of my doorman hustling: "Go, I'll watch the car and we'll valet it when you get back." I said, as genuine as I've ever been in this job. "Are you sure? It's no trouble?" she inquired, as if waiting for the "catch". "Yeah, absolutely. Go, you'll miss curtain." "Thank you so much! What's your name?" "Doorman." "Thank you, Doorman. You're wonderful!" She rushed to Carnegie Hall. Her compliments were nice, but people tend to say nice things when they get something they want, so I took it with a grain of salt. I moved her car to the end of the loading zone and went on with my evening. About two hours later, after my dinner break, a family of douche bag Europeans file out the door and coldly demand a taxi. I didn't recognize them at first, because I was too busy singing the shit out of the Remix to Ignition by R Kelly. When the family patriarch finally came out, I remembered that they were these pieces of shit: Wednesday night, I was working inside as a bellman. The bell rang, and I had to take these people up to the penthouse suite. When the bell rings and the front desk agent hands you keys to the penthouse, it's time to get excited, because there's a good chance that a juicy tip is coming your way. I lead these assholes to the elevator, where I give them the "where are you from? Oh! That's so interesting" schtick. On the way up, the patriarch pulls out a bunch of pennies and nickels from his pocket and begins to thumb through them. He shows them to his family, and giggles like a teenage girl. "Eeehhhhh you can use this?" he managed to get out, in between bouts of stifled laughing. Fucking jerk-off, I thought. I knew where this was going. "You can use it, yes. But it isn't worth much at all." I replied, as I clutched the handle of his suitcase, fending off the urge to rip it off and whack his scrotum. "Ah, okay!" He continued to giggle and show the change to his family. For the rest of the ride up, he held the change in his fist, shaking and jingling. My blood began to boil. We get to the room, the nicest and most expensive fucking room in the hotel, and I unload the luggage cart. He stood by, watching me do all the work. Most people at least pretend to try and help. The rest stand by and watch, like their fucking royalty. They're the ones who are least likely to give you anything. As I'm unloading the luggage, all I hear is him shaking the change in his hand. When I unload the last bag, I slowly turn, awaiting his presentation of 23 cents in pennies. He smugly smiles, and extends his hand to dump his pocket change into mine. Fuck this. "No. You keep that. See how far it gets you." as I looked him dead in the eye, right in front of his wife and kids. "Okay" he said, with no remorse. "Sorry." I could tell that he wanted to laugh, but was scared that I was going to punch him in the face. I walked out before it happened. Back to present time, where I'm holding the door for his awful family. "Taxi to Times Square" he said, without looking up from his phone. "Right away, sir" I grumbled, though clenched teeth. I get them the cab, and they pile in like the building is about to blow up behind them. The last one in was the son, who stepped on my foot without saying sorry. It took everything I had in me to not slam the door while he was getting in, breaking his ankle in half. I knew a tip was out of the question, but not a single one even so much as looked up at me. I hastily slam the door and scream "YOU'RE WELCOME!" Nothing. The taxi pulls away. I do the walk of shame back to the door, where the Carnegie Hall Lady is waiting patiently. "Doorman?" "Oh, hey! How was the show?" I asked, trying to regain my composure. "It was amazing! Got there just in time. Wouldn't have made it if it weren't for you" she replied, holding a playbill that was autographed by someone on the front. "Can we valet the car now?" "Yeah. Yeah, of course. Hang on, let me get you a ticket." I filled out the valet card and gave her the claim ticket, then helped her with her suitcase to reception. To be perfectly honest, I didn't expect anything, nor did I care what happened either way. I just felt good about doing something nice for someone, and that person being appreciative. As I said before- what if it were my mother? After I put her last bag down, she puts her hand in mine, with a single bill in it. I never look down at the tip in front of the guest, so I maintained eye-contact with her. "Thank you for restoring my faith in people, Doorman." I didn't know what she meant, and I didn't ask. But I knew she meant it. "Likewise" I replied. As I turned to walk away, I put the bill in my pocket without looking. When I got back to the door, I took a healthy swig of my water, then called the garage to come pick up her car. After checking the score of the Thursday Night Football game on my phone, I pulled the bill out of my pocket. There he was, Ulysses S. Grant, staring me in the face. HOLY SHIT!!!!!! The most I had ever gotten in one tip was a twenty, mostly for helping people throughout the week or for taking massive amounts of heavy suitcases up to rooms. Getting fifty bucks for a genuine act of kindness trumps any nice moment I've ever had working this job. About an hour later, she came back downstairs. I held the shit out of the door for her. "Thanks again for before, Doorman." "No, no, no!!! Thank YOU! If you need anything, anything at all, you ask ME! Don't be shy! Anything you need!" She laughed and went on her way. No more than sixty seconds later, douchefuck European family pulled up in a pedicab. I fucking hate pedicab drivers. Not a week goes by without a savage altercation with one of these motherfuckers. I was never so happy to see one. The driver charged them $180 from Times Square, a mere seven blocks from the hotel. If this were any other case, I'd come running over like George Brett . Not this time. As the European patriarch looked in my direction for help, I giggled, turned around, and showed the bellman the scene of an idiot tourist being ripped off by a pedisavage. They filed back in after a good ten minutes of arguing about the price. Pedisavage won the $180, then asked for a tip. Bless his little heart. European patriarch declined, as expected. None of them thanked me for holding the door. There really isn't an ending to this story. What I CAN tell you is that having your faith restored in people, however brief, is a beautiful sauce. And you should tip your doorman and bellman, obviously.