Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Doorman Breaks Down a Good NYC Bellman Shift: Act I

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I was hired as a bellman under the false pretense that this was a "six figure job" by the man who recruited me. Since I was the last guy in seniority, I was thrown on the door and made the night doorman. Everyone told me to stick with it, that it would get better and I would soon be able to come and work inside as a bellman. A year and a half later, I'm still the last guy, still the night doorman, and still writing this blog. I'm very grateful for that. Without this little twist of fate, the blog likely would have never been born, but yesterday I got a little taste of how much better (but not really) working inside as a bellman can be: 

I was slated for my normal 3pm-midnight doorman shift and getting dressed in the locker room. In came one of the morning doormen, covering for the 3-11pm bellman. The exchange went like this: 

Morning Doorman - "I don't know why I fuckin' committed to this, bro." 

Doorman - "Neither do I. I got fucking sunburn like a bastard."

Seriously, look at that shit. It's like poster for Aladdin. 

Morning Doorman - "I hate fuckin' workin' inside, bro. Standin' around, doin' nothin'." 

Doorman - "Dude, the heat and my sunburn don't mix." 

We looked at each other and didn't have to say anything else. I chucked my hat in the locker and started my bellman shift. I've been meaning to do this for a while, and can never get it done while working the door. 

Here's a breakdown of every single potential money-making interaction I had. Note: This is what he consider to be a good day. Not a great day, not a bad day, a good day. (And you better believe that there will be future posts breaking down the bad and great days.)


- Bags down from room = A guest calls to have their bags brought down from the room.  

- Bags down from storage = Guest gives me a luggage claim ticket and I bring the bags down from the storage room. 

- Front = When a bellman escorts a guest to the room. 

- Room change = Escorting a guest who is unhappy with their room into a new room.

3:01pm- Collect a $15 commission from a car service I had booked the previous day. Starting the day with $15 in my pocket is always a good omen. 

3:15pm- Front. Hot American girl in American flag shirt hands me a luggage ticket. Her mom is getting their room keys. I take down the room number, and tell them that I'll meet them up in the room with their bags. Two suitcases, two carry-ons. I take the bags up to the room, and upon knocking and entering, I can tell that they hate it. 

Doorman - "Anything I can do for you ladies?" 

Mom - "We need more towels, but I'll call down for them." 

Doorman - "Okie dokie." 

I schlep the bags inside. I stand in the doorway for a second, but neglect to gauge how far back I've stepped. As the Mom reaches for the purse, I accidentally slam the door in my own face. 

I stand, face to face with the door, and wait about ten seconds for her to open it and give me a tip. She doesn't. I have started my day by slamming the door in my own face and fucking up my tip. 

I turn and stomp down the hallway. I grab the luggage ticket from my pocket and cuss and throw it on the floor. I look up and see a maid standing there, giving me the evil-eye. I apologize and pick it up immediately. 
3:20pm: Front. Brazilians with a ticket for seven pieces of luggage. I smile and send them up to the room and inform them that I'll meet them up there in ten minutes with their massive, butt-fucking suitcases.

3:27pm: Cart is loaded to capacity, and I try to get into the elevator. Redneck in elevator makes a sideshow of me by saying that "it's too damn hot for you and your cart" as he presses the close button. His redneck family laughs at me. I'm officially in a bad mood. 

3:33pm: Get the bags to the room. Brazilian woman answers the door as her husband hides in the corner, eating a fucking cake. There is frosting on his mustache. I want to shave his mustache off with a shovel. Schlep the bags in, no tip. 

Woman - "Obrigado." 

I loudly scoff and shake my head. She is oblivious. 

I am officially livid. 
3:35pm:  Store two suitcases for a young Arab man. No tip.  

Without the $15 commission, I'd be at zero and I just spent the past 40 minutes busting my ass. 


3:40pm: Front. Two American ladies from Minnesota. I put on my biggest happy face. They consider getting a CityPass for three days. I tell them it's not worth it and that they'll save money by doing things individually. They appreciate my advice and are wonderful. $5.

3:43pm: Bags down from room. Brazilian woman with one suitcase. She has a car service booked. She hands me $10 before I do anything. This makes me the happiest little bellboy in midtown. I take her right to her car that she's booked and thank her like she just dragged my mother out of a fire. 

3:46pm: Front. Woman from Arizona's granddaughter is in a dance competition. One suitcase and one small duffel bag. I give her advice on where to get a good coffee that isn't Starbucks. $3. 

4:00pm: Bags down from storage. Woman from Texas doesn't have her claim ticket, so I have to walk her into every storage room to find it. I don't give her a hard time about it because she approached me with a five dollar bill in her hand. We get to talking, and I tell her that I live in Manhattan. She looks me up and down and says "Seriously!?!" I'd call her a cunt, but she gave me $5. 

4:11pm: Bags down from storage. Young American couple. One suitcase, one duffel bag. $2

4:18pm: Front. Older couple from Brazil. Man is wearing a fanny pack. This makes me want to take a flamethrower to him. Five suitcases. I load up the cart and take them to the room. He asks if I speak Portuguese. I tell him no, with gusto. 

We arrive at the room. I unload the cart and notice that the room smells like a fresh turd. I say nothing. They like the room. This leads me to believe that it's smelly where they live and that they don't notice the smell of hot feces. I unload the cart and stand by the doorway with a smile. This prompts the man to go into his fucking fanny pack and give me $3. 

4:40pm- Front. Mother and son from Brazil. Mother jokingly asks for all the amenities and upgrades for no additional charge. If I were in a better mood, I'd find it cute. But I'm not in a better mood. I send them up to the room and tell them that I'll be right behind them with their bags because I'm not in the mood for jokes. 

I get to the room, and they're screaming at each other in Portuguese. I'd rather listen to Honey Boo Boo's mom taking a dump than listen to people argue in Portuguese. The son answers the door, I schlep the luggage in, and he gives me $5. 

My mood is beginning to change.  

4:52pm: Deliver laundry to a man from Argentina with $430 in incidentals already charged to his room. No tip.

4:59pm: Bags down from storage. Young Brazilian couple, one suitcase. $5.

5:05pm: Bags down from storage. American family from the DEEP south. The man is wearing a confederate flag shirt. His wife has braces. His teenage daughter has crooked teeth and does not. They need a transport to the airport and I sell them on the hotel's car service. 

Bring the bags down, and offer to take them to the car. I load the trunk, and they all scurry in without a tip or thank you. I don't care because I just made a $10 commission off of them. I bring $3 to Morning Doorman, which is his cut. $7. 

I wonder if mom's braces will be handed down to the daughter when she's done with them and it makes me laugh. 

5:10pm: Room change. I look at the room number, it's Fanny Pack's from 4:18pm. I look at which room they're being moved to. It's in the East Wing. FUCK. 

The East Wing is a section in the back of the hotel that used to be an apartment building. It's the oldest section of the hotel. Some of the rooms are renovated, but the majority of them suck. The worst part about the East Wing is that there's a little staircase from the lobby to the elevators. So whenever you have a cart full of luggage, you have to unload it, schlep it down the fucking steps, then reload another cart. ROYAL pain in the ass. If a front desk girl isn't fond of a bellman, then guess what? A family full of Brazilians with twenty suitcases gets sent to the East Wing. 

I get to the room. They have packed up their luggage. 

Fanny Pack - "Ehhhhhh... is smells!!!" 

I knew that would come back to haunt me. 

I load the cart with their five suitcases, bring them down to the lobby, then unload the cart, hump them down the steps, load another cart, then bring them to the elevators. Take them up to the room, unload the cart again. The many reaches into his fanny pack. $2. 

Customary tip is one or two dollars per bag. Counting both interactions, I loaded and unloaded a cart for them four times. It took that many lifts of their deadweight luggages over two interactions to earn a proper tip. 

And he was wearing a fucking fanny pack. 

5:27pm: Deliver 2 buckets of ice to a room. American guy on crutches. $2.

5:38pm: Front. Arab family with six suitcases. Shitdick brings in their luggage and doesn't get a thank you. The young man I stored bags for at 3:35pm gives me the luggage ticket. This is going to be like squeezing blood from a rock. Not only do I have to load two carts of their luggage and go up to two different rooms to likely get stiffed, but I have to make a pitstop in the storage room to get two more fucking suitcases. 

Note: I can count one hand the amount of times I've been tipped my someone from the Middle East. I can also probably count on two hands the amount of times I've been treated like a human being while assisting them. Same (though not as extreme) goes for people from India. I wish I were making this up for entertainment purposes, but I sadly am not. Both of these groups have had a boom in US tourism in 2013, and my wallet and pride has taken a beating as a result.  

Then, in a delightfully serendipitous moment, the woman from 3:15pm, who let me slam the door in my own face to blow my tip, came and gave me $2 right in front of the young man. 

Lady - "Here, you took me up before and I didn't have any small bills." 

That's when you know you have luck on your side. Working the hotel lobby hustle is a lot like gambling in a casino - when you're hot, the money comes to you and you can get very fucking lucky. When things are going poorly, you keep plugging and plugging and plugging without getting shit in return, and the frustrations give off a negative vibe, which causes you to lose more. I was getting tipped well, getting lucky, and was maintaining a positive attitude. And it showed. 

I get the bags from storage and bring them upstairs to their rooms. First room had the women of the family. No tip. 

Second room was for the men. The young man greets me at the door. I carry the remainder of their bags inside the room. He pulls out two crispy fives for me and is extremely pleasant. 

Was this a result of the lady giving me a tip? Or did he just know the deal already? Either way, I'm paid and I don't give a fuck. 


5:55pm- Front. Japanese girl and her mom. Fresh off a dime from an unlikely tip source, the charm was pouring out of me. 

Doorman - "First time in the states?" 

Japanese Girl - "First time in New York..."

Doorman - "Oh, really? Where were you before this?" 

Japanese Girl - "We were in Ohio!" 

Doorman - "Why the hell did you go to Ohio?!?" 

They cover their mouths and giggle to each other. Adorable.  

I take them up to the 31st floor, the second down from the top. They bow and laugh profusely.


6:15pm: Bags down from storage. Young American couple, straight to their shuttle bus outside. $3 

6:25pm: Front. Two older, Indian couples. One cart full, two different rooms in different towers. 

First room - They ask about the air conditioner. I look and flip switches. It's clearly broken. The guy has no money out, nor has any intention of giving me anything. I tell him to give it a minute to start up and dart the fuck out of there. 

Second room- I get there, and the very nice man tells me that the room is still dirty. Front Desk Girl gave them a room that hasn't been cleaned yet. Terrific. Now we all have to go downstairs and get new keys for a new room. 

The man is nice, and tries to talk to me and I give him the cold shoulder because of his cunt friends. He asks my name and how long I've been working there, and I give him one-word answers with a forced-grin.

We get to the room and he gives me $7. That's twice in one hour that I've had a snap-judgement proved wrong. 

6:53pm- Group of 22 people arrive. In our hotel, and many others, the bellmen and doormen get paid a flat fee per person for every group of more than ten that arrives and exits. Meaning that there were six guys working, we all split that on the arrival. When the group exits, whoever is working that shift gets the departure. 

$3.72 per person X 22 people = $81.84

Divided by six guys = $13.64 per man. 

I got $14 and I didn't touch one single bag. We were also seven minutes away from two guys leaving, which would have given us $21 each.

6:57pm: Front. One woman from russia, one suitcase. East Wing. She's exhausted from her trip and has zero interest in talking to me. 

There's a hot, white British woman in a tizzy waiting in front of us at the elevator. My bellman buddy, Alex, arrives behind us with two Japanese girls of his own. We all love Japanese girls. They're polite, tip properly, and are always smiling. 

The elevator arrives, and the British woman blocks us from entering. 

Hot British Woman - "I need to take the elevator up to twelve without stopping because I'm running late!!!" 

I'm completely thrown off by her audacity, and I buckle and let her go. Alex and the guests all look at me like I've failed them. As the elevator is closing, Alex chimes in:

Alex - "You should manage your time better, toots." 

He looks at me and mouths "you're a pussy." 

We get to the Russian lady's room and she tells me that she'll get me later. The British woman likely blew my tip. This won't be the last time we see the Hot British Woman. 


  1. Sounds like everyday is an adventure! What was the grand total at the end of the day?

    Soho Hotel


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