Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Doorman: The Racist

While working inside as a bellman on Thursday night, I was called to do a front well-after 11pm. It was a slow evening, and after only making about $60 thus far, I was scrounging for anything I could get. It was an older black woman with her two strapping young sons. She only had one suitcase, so when I walked over, she spoke to the front desk agent as if I weren't even there:

Woman - "Do I really need him? I have my two sons with me."

Front Desk Girl - "Our policy is to send every guest up with a bellman to ensure that the room is satisfactory."

She rolled her eyes and looked at me.

Woman - "Well, alright then."

Terrific. And this is why I didn't come inside and work as a bellman when I had the chance. Yes, the money is better. Yes, the hours are potentially better. Yes, you can sneak off and fuck around in the locker room whenever you please. But this aspect of it - the begging, taking the elevator up to the room with someone who clearly doesn't want your help, who now feels obligated to throw you some chump change - that's what I can't do.

Cut to the elevator, and her speaking about me as if I were a luggage cart with a pulse is still pissing me off, so I opt to not start the obligatory "where are you from? OH I LOVE THAT PLACE" bullshit. Her sons stood by.

Woman - "Can I ask you something?"

Doorman - "Sure."

Woman - "Is this a racist hotel?"

Doorman - "Excuse me?"

Woman - "You heard what I said. Is this a racist hotel?"

What the fuck do you say to that? This made me nervous, and when I get nervous, I make jokes. Shitty jokes.

Doorman - "Not that I'm aware."

They didn't find that funny.

Woman - "Because we just left the theatre and we couldn't get a cab, and we were wondering if this hotel was as racist as the taxi drivers."

Doorman - "Well, it's very difficult to get a taxi in that area when the shows let out."

Woman - "Well, we couldn't get one over by Lincoln Center earlier and it wasn't crowded then."

Doorman - "Ma'am, I treat everyone with equal respect up-front. The only time I ever have an issue with someone is when they don't treat me with the respect I deserve."

That's what I should have said. Because that's the truth. No, instead I joked, because I was nervous:

Doorman - "Well, I'll tell ya who the taxi drivers hate the most - doormen!!!"

Cue The Price is Right loser horn.

In an epic douche-chill moment, I exited the elevator with the people who clearly didn't understand my little anecdote. As I slumped into the room with her carry-on suitcase, she observed her standard-double  and went for her wallet.

I stood there, begging for my dollar like a chump.

Doorman - "Is everything alright with the room, ma'am?"

Woman - "Yeah, it's fine."

She took out a five and two singles and placed them in my palm.

Doorman - "Thank you very much. I hope you have a wonderful evening."

Woman - "I will. Because God is good."

Doorman - "If you need anything, let me know. And... you know..."

No. Shut the fuck up, Doorman!!! 

She looked at me, not really wanting me to talk anymore.

Doorman - "I hope that... you know..."

OH MY GOD!!! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LEAVE!!!

Doorman - "you have an easier time... with the... you know... cabbies."

If I had a shotgun in my hand at that moment, I would have stuffed it in my mouth and painted the walls with the back of my head.

Woman - "Don't worry, I have God on my side. And God is good."

And I left.

I never saw her or her sons again.

Sunday 

Back on the door. I had a wedding the night before, and was a tad hungover.

It's 3:01pm, and this is the first interaction I have with a human being after punching in:

An older black man walks out.

Man - "Doorman."

And he didn't say "doorman" the way I refer to myself in this blog, or even in the way that many of my friends call me now. He called me by my title, in the most condescending way possible.

Man - "Someone inside told me I could get two cabs to LaGuardia for $35 each."

Seeing that it was my first interaction of the day after a lovely evening, I kept my cool.

Doorman - "That's probably what the meter will run up to, nothing more. When you guys are ready, Ill-"
And he fucking walked away from me, directly to the taxi stand. No thank you, and he didn't even let me finish my sentence. He didn't even let me finish trying to help him. He immediately started talking to taxi drivers and negotiating prices. Now, I get that when people are in a strange city, they don't want to be ripped off, so they sometimes bypass us and try to get the best possible price elsewhere. I get that. But to walk outside, call me by my title, then walk away while I'm mid-sentence and trying to help you? That makes you a cunt. A rude, inconsiderate cunt.

Fuck him. I went about my business as he went from cabbie to cabbie, trying to get them to agree to a fixed price to LaGuardia. (The joke was actually on him. It was a Sunday with no traffic. The meter would likely barely make it to $30.)

Though if you've read my blog up until this point, you know that I simply can't just let things go. And I didn't, of course. All I heard in my head, over and over, was him saying "doorman". I wear a fucking name tag for a reason. All of a sudden, I was fucking steaming. As his family of seven, including two grown sons, one gigantic, one short, filed out the door, I couldn't help but get the last word in. As I finished getting a taxi to Penn Station for a group of college students, I said my piece:

Doorman - "You know, I wear a name tag for a reason, sir."

They all look at each other, confused. Though the patriarch puckers his lips and lifts one eyebrow at me, then turns to load the luggage into the car.

Doorman - "HEY! I'M TALKING TO YOU!!!"

His big son intervened.

Big Son - "Who you talking to?!?"

Doorman - "I wear a name tag for a reason. Next time, you can call me by my name!"

The patriarch gives me the same look - puckered lips, one eyebrow raised. I'm not getting a response from him. Though his son was all about it:

Big Son - "YOU CAN TALK TO ME!! YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY?!?!"

Doorman - "I already said it."

And I walked back to the door.

Big Son - "YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY?!?! YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY?!?!"

I stood at my post and said nothing. I had nothing else to say. The Big Son tried to walk up to me, but his wife grabbed him by the arm and told him that I'm not worth it. He spent the rest of the time standing on the curb, fists in balls, arms flexed, staring me down. I went about my work.

Another guest handed me a valet ticket. I took it and walked inside to the Doorman phone.

The smaller, more bookish son followed me inside.

Small Son - "Are you the guy that was just outside talking to us?"

The phone rang on the other end as I waited for the garage attendant to pick up.

Doorman - "Yeah."

Small Son - "Where your boss at?"

Doorman - "Inside."

Small Son - "Go get him."

Doorman - "I can't, I'm busy."

The garage attendant picked up.

Doorman - "Yeah, can you send over ticket number 0713, please?"

The attendant hung up, but I didn't want to engage the son anymore, so I kept my ear on the receiver.

Small Son - "Ain't you out here working for tips?!?"

He pulled his money out.

Small Son - "Ain't you out here working for tips?!?"

I didn't even look up, nor did I have any fucking idea where he was going with that. Eventually, he walked out the door without even pursuing my boss.

(For the record, I asked the bellman who brought their eight suitcases down from storage how much they tipped him. Zero.)

They left, and the Big Son stared me down from the car until they drove away. I immediately told my boss what happened to cover my ass, and it was a good thing I did.

About an hour later, the matriarch of the family called.

She told my boss that they would like to pursue a racial discrimination case. They told him that the white doorman (white-hispanic, technically) was rude to them, and called them "a word." My boss, having heard my end of the story first, talked to them for several minutes, and was able to talk them out of it.

I don't know if this is going to come back to me, or if it's something that has blown over. Should it come back to me, and I have to go before my union and plead my case that I was simply sticking up for myself with a rude guest, and that race was not an issue, my reputation at work will most definitely be smeared for as long as I'm there.

As I should have said to the woman in the elevator, I treat everyone with a respect. When that respect is not reciprocated, then I have a problem. Just like this case, and in the 70-something posts before this, I was simply standing up for myself when I felt disrespected. Though it's amazing how easily a man's reputation can be ruined, and how damaging it can be when someone unnecessarily turns something into a race issue.

Still waiting to see if that's the case.

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