Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Doorman vs Chauffeur

I've never had a recurring dream. I never thought they existed till I finally started having one of my own a couple of weeks ago:

The dream itself is pretty simple - I'm in a bus terminal with a suitcase holding every valuable possession I own. (I don't have much, so when I say "every valuable possession", I mean my MacBook Air and an external hard drive that holds all of my writings and raw footage from #Doorman.)

For some odd reason, I go on various eating and shopping sprees, each time leaving my prized suitcase in the middle of the terminal for all of the homeless people to salivate over. Finally, after ditching my bag in favor of a cup of Cookies 'n Cream Dippin' Dots, I come back to find that my possessions were gone. After throwing a tantrum, threatening and pointing fingers at every homeless man in sight, one of them looks me dead in the eye:

Homeless Man: "Well, you kept leaving it out there, what the fuck did you think was going to happen?"

That's where I wake up.

Over the past year and a half, I've undergone a transformation. I spent my childhood and better part of my adulthood taking the passive route, which resulted in me getting bullied and walked all over. Even in my earlier blog posts, you can see a guy who is afraid to stand up for himself, but has something burning beneath the surface. This pent-up aggression was waiting to bubble over and make up for all those years of regret for not respecting myself enough to speak up when I felt I was being disrespected.

Once that happened, I almost felt guilty every time I would tell someone off, or call someone out on their bullshit. It was a feeling that I've never really experienced. Though as time went on, I was able to recognize that this feeling of guilt was actually relief. I would go home, with an argument with a coworker or taxi driver fresh on my mind, knowing full-well that I stuck up for myself and did the right thing, and I would feel good about it. A far cry from beating the shit out of a pillow and calling myself a pussy as I cryerbated and wondered why I was the only male in my father's bloodline that didn't have a fucking backbone.

Then this good feeling overtook me. I began getting carried away. I began being a cock because I could. I began talking down to people that I felt were lesser than me - the cabbies, the town car drivers, the street scammers. I thought I could say whatever I wanted, because I was untouchable. I wore the uniform. It was my fucking sidewalk, and these cunts would play by my fucking rules. I, in essence, became something of a bully.

The funny thing about bullies is that they become so used to people being submissive that they're completely caught off guard when someone bites back. Which brings me to this story:

The hotel's loading zone spans about thirty feet. That's enough for 3-5 vehicles, depending on the size. At least two-dozen times a day, someone (usually a town car driver) will pull up and treat it like a rest area. It's my job to remove them. If it's 11pm, I don't give a flying fuck. If it's 3pm, then I have to move them, because at any given time, I could be dealing with ten cars trying to drop off or pick up in the zone. For every ten cars that I ask to move, at least five will give me an attitude, and at least two will refuse. This is why I get into fights. Every. Fucking. Day.

A white van full of movers wants to pull over and eat their halal food?

Fuck you, Doorman.

Some guido wants to pull over and have a twenty-minute phone conversation?

Fuck you, Doorman.

A town car driver wants to take a nap?

Fuck you, Doorman.

Every day. Without fail.

Fuck you, Doorman.

Being polite gets me nowhere with these fucking assholes. So I have to be a dick. And guess what? I fucking love it. My "excuse me, sir's" have evolved into "yo, I need the spot." I don't give anyone a second to explain themselves. If they're not picking up from the hotel, they're greeted with a "get the fuck out of here." It's wildly efficient.

What happens when I'm polite? I get a rebuttal. "Five minutes!" "I'm just picking up from around the corner!" "Oh, come on!" "Where's the sign? I don't see the sign!!!"

Nope, fuck you. This is my loading zone. Get the fuck out.

And it feels fantfuckingtastic. 

Though as the night goes on, and there's less action, I ease up. But on this particular late night, shit was busy and crowded. There was a car waiting to be picked up at the garage on one corner, with a limo and town car waiting for guests to be picked up. In the middle of everything was a black Escalade with New Jersey plates. They were plane-Jane license plates that didn't belong to any limo company in particular, so the odds of him having a legit pickup from the hotel were slim to none. Someone had to go, and it was him.

The window was open, and there was a bald Hispanic man in his thirties resting his head in the palm of his hand with an elbow out the window. He wore a diamond pinky-ring and a suit that indicated that he was some sort of high-end chauffeur.

Doorman - "Picking up from here?"

Chauffeur - "Nah, I'm picking up the Rosales family around the corner."

Doorman - "Can't stay here, I need the spot."

He looked at me like I was crazy. I smugly chewed my gum and stared at him. Looking around for another rebuttal, he spotted the fire hydrant in front of him.

Chauffeur - "I'm in front of a hydrant."

Doorman - "Which is in the loading zone. Come on, let's go."

Chauffeur - "Come on, man!"

I've mentioned before that I'm Puerto Rican. Only on the inside. My physical appearance, dancing skills, and success with women do not reflect those of a Latino in the least bit. While I'm proud of my heritage, it's not exactly something that I can wear on my sleeve. My Old Man is Irish, and that's usually what I have to go with.

Another important thing I must mention is that where I work, in my field and on this avenue, the nickname "Papi" is used constantly. Doormen use it to summon taxi drivers, Bellmen use it towards Doormen when they're collecting a debt, and the other way around. I use it every day, without thinking twice.

Doorman - "You're blocking the middle of the loading zone, Papi!"

This clearly sent a jolt through his body. I saw the fire in his eyes, and something immediately didn't feel right about my choice of words.

Chauffeur - "I ain't movin'."

Fuck this bullshit.

Doorman - "I asked you nicely! Are you gonna move, or are you gonna be a fucking jerk?!?"

I turned to walk away and he threw his hand up, shooing me.

Not to be defeated, I went and got security.

The security agent, making ten dollars an hour, now had to get involved with my bullshit.

He went over there, and I heard the Chauffeur yelling about me. I tried to keep my cool, but I felt my blood boiling. I felt like I did when I would let myself get kicked around in middle school. I felt my body get hot and my face flush like when I would let some kid from the projects punch me in the stomach and take my lunch away. From where I was standing, I could hear him yelling:

Chauffeur - "If he don't like it, I can take it up with him after work!!!"

My body took me over there before my brain could even think about it, and I was right back in his face.

Doorman - "What the fuck is your problem?!?"

Chauffeur - "FIRST OFF - Don't call me 'Papi'! I ain't your Papi!"

There it was. I knew I felt wrong about something I said, and he pointed it out to me. "Papi" is something Latino men use as a term of endearment with their sons. It's something Latino women call their men. It's not something some fucking white guy in a stupid hat says to a Latino man when trying to ask them to do something. I was dead wrong in that regard. 

Doorman - "Fine."

Chauffeur - "Second, I ain't no fucking jerk. Don't call me a jerk!"

Whoa now, let's not get crazy here.

Doorman - "If you wanna act like a jerk, I'm gonna treat you like a fucking jerk."

Chauffuer - "Don't fucking talk to me like that!"

Doorman - "Like what? YOU'RE A FUCKING JERK!!"



At this point, security just stood back. I don't know if he was just letting us work it out, or completely unsure of how to get in between us.

Chauffeur - "WHAT TIME YOU GET OFF?!?!"



In retrospect, I'm not sure what he meant by that. Was he talking about himself? Like his employer will find out about a bloody fistfight that he has with a doorman when he's off the clock? Or was he talking about me? In any event, why would I lose my job if I'm attacked by some chauffeur when I'm exiting work? People say strange things when they're angry.

Security finally stepped in between us, and I retreated back to the door, where I watched him light a cigarette and stand his ground. Security wasn't going to pour more gas on the fire by making this guy move, so he just stood at the halfway mark till the guy left.

While all of this was going on, a car came to be valeted. As I explained the rules of the parking garage to the guest, shaky hands and all, a gross feeling had overcome me.

I felt like someone had lathered me up in IcyHot and poured a bucket of sand down my throat. Was I really going to have to exit work and have to fight this fucking guy? Was I going to walk out of here at midnight, with my hipster backpack, converse sneakers and "Better Call Saul" t-shirt, and brawl with some mystery chauffeur that I know nothing about?

And for what?!?! He stopped to rest in my little territory?!?! Who the fuck am I?!?!

And what if he came back with a gun or a knife? What if I walked out of here, expecting a fair fight, and this guy just shot me in the head? You know what would happen? The cops would scrape me off the sidewalk, and the next day my manager would cross me off the schedule and put the last guy in seniority in my place and EVERYTHING WOULD BE EXACTLY THE SAME THE NEXT DAY.

What the fuck am I fighting for? This? No, I'm done with this.

While a guest was mid-question, I walked over to the Chauffeur. He was about done with his cigarette, and had it cupped in his hand with his index finger and thumb. He didn't want to look at me.

Security went to stop me. I pushed him off.

Doorman - 'It's okay."

Chauffeur looked at me, but my calmness was evident, and he knew that I wasn't looking for any more conflict.

Doorman - "Let me just say one thing - I'm out here every day with people telling me to go fuck myself, dealing with cabbies and guests, getting no respect. I know what I said that offended you, and for that, I apologize. Wasn't my intention."

Chauffeur - "I'm not someone who tolerates being spoken to like that."

Doorman - "Neither am I."

I extended my hand.

Chauffeur - "I accept your apology. Next time be more careful who you talk to like that."

He took a phone call, shutting the window in my face, and drove away.

I just stood there and watched him go, feeling like I caved. I imagined him getting to his destination, telling whoever it was that he was picking up the story, then ending it with "and then he got scared and apologized to me like a bitch." In trying to defuse a situation and do the right thing, I ended up just feeling like a pussy.

Security - "You did the right thing, my man."

I couldn't answer him. I could barely speak. Having played the situation in my head over and over, I couldn't make sense of who was right and who was wrong. For the life of me, I couldn't remember what my tone was when I approached him. All I could recall was calling him "Papi" and his eyes going cold. Just as I did when I was just some pudgy little piece of shit kid, getting slapped in the face and pushed off the bleachers at school, I blamed myself for someone else's wrong doing.

After months and months of owning my sidewalk and talking down to people, playing the bully, I was knocked right back down to earth.

Thankfully. Because that isn't me.

After months and months of getting off on being a prick, odds are I was bound to run into someone who wouldn't tolerate it. Someone who was just like me - a guy with a chip on his shoulder, not about to let some smug asshole use his status to push him over.

I had it coming, just like I had getting my shit stolen by homeless people in my dream.

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