Merry Christmas. Most have you have seen this before, but here's the re-launching of the Doorman pilot. I'm especially happy because, instead of saying "here's my pilot" with nothing else to show, it's now the first part of a narrative. We can officially call it "episode one". I hope you all love it as much as we do. Tomorrow we launch the first new episode, titled C-Note.
A taxi pulled up in front of the hotel. I hopped to it, leaving the umbrella behind. On the way out, I bumped into another young woman. Hard. I almost knocked her over. Still defensive, I anticipated a, "watch where you're going, you fucking piece of shit doorman!"
But she didn't. After I apologized immediately, she simply smiled and said, "it's okay! Have a wonderful evening, sir!"
I looked around. She was part of a large group, maybe 20 or 30 people. Escaping the rain, they all squeezed under the marquis, blocking the sidewalk and entrance to the hotel.
Oh, motherfucker. Now I have to tell these idiots that they can't stand there and block the door. I have to yell at a bunch of people, then field all of the disapproving looks. I have to be the bad guy, the grinch... AGAIN!
A middle-aged woman, the apparent leader of the pack, called the group's attention:
Middle-Aged Woman - "Okay, this looks good!"
Don't get too comfortable, asshole.
Middle-Aged Woman - "Ready?!"
The group, a mix of people of all ages, did a sudden about-face towards her.
I took a step towards them, ready to have them move onto another place where they weren't blocking an entrance to one of the busiest hotels in midtown Manhattan. Ready to field an array of scowls and "what's his problem's?". Ready to, once again, feel shitty about just doing my job. This fucking job.
As I mustered the last bit of assertiveness I had left in my body, the leader of the pack raised her hands in front of her, took a deep breath, and the large group of people harmonized a "Silent Night, Holy Night..."
I froze in my tracks.
I grew up in the suburbs. Never, in all my Christmases, have I ever been privy to a group of random carolers outside my window. I didn't they existed outside of movies.
Scanning the crowd of faces, all shiny and red from the cold rain, I couldn't help but notice the sheer joy in every one of them. None of them were wrinkled and sagging from the stress of having to navigate this high-octane city on a daily basis. None of them seemed to carry the weight of this circle of hostility that tornados it's way through my path every evening. Nope, all I saw was sheer joy and holiday spirit.
This prompted me to do something that's unfathomable to any frantic New Yorker - stop, relax, and listen.
I haven't seen too many choirs in my day, so I really don't have much to base this on, but they were amazing. Truly amazing. I stood and watched them, trying to fully take in this moment. Listening to the lyrics. Everything around me slowed down.
I've never been a spiritual man. I stopped going to church at a young age. I've never believed in fate, or serendipity, or being "saved". My faith in humanity takes a crushing blow on a daily basis, as you may have noticed in the 150+ stories you've read on here.
Don't get me wrong - I have a lot to be grateful for. I do. That'll never change. But I see the ugly in so many people. I see them get sucked into this tornado of hostility and do and say some pretty horrible things, myself included. To have the universe throw me a bone, give me a little nudge-of-the-elbow, a tiny inkling of hope that there's plenty of good left in the world... well, it moved me to tears.
The carolers seamlessly transitioned into We Wish You a Merry Christmas, finished up, and moved onto the next hotel. I wiped a few tears from my face, then went back to my post.
For the next twenty minutes, I tried to make sense of all of it - the timing, trying to understand what message the universe was attempting to send me. Then, for whatever reason, I started thinking about the Hispanic Woman.
Why didn't I give her the umbrella? It's Christmas, for fucks sake. What the hell is the matter with me? Why do I, day in and day out, let this job get the better of me? Why can't I rise above all of this ugliness? Why can't I be a bigger, better man?
A guest walked towards the door. I held it open for her, looking at the floor and giving a faint smile, as I usually do. As she entered and walked past me, she spoke:
Middle-Aged Woman - "Hello, sir! How are you?"
I looked up and saw the leader of the choir, with a beaming smile.
Doorman - "Oh.. Hi!"
She asked again:
Middle Aged Woman - "How are you, sir?"
I honestly didn't know. A small, burning part of me was still defensive, waiting for the pie to be smashed in my face.
Doorman - "I'm, uh, I'm good. I'm good."
She kept smiling. Making eye contact with me. Having someone genuinely ask how I was doing was so out-of-the-ordinary and off-putting that it made me want to jump through the glass door and run down the street.
Middle-Aged Woman - "Did you enjoy that?"
I knew what she was talking about.
Doorman - "Enjoy what?"
Middle-Aged Woman - "The singers!"
Doorman - "Oh! That was you!"
I wanted to say something vague along the lines of, "oh, yeah! Nice job!". But I couldn't. I felt a pit in my stomach. My face and neck and ears got hot. I had trouble catching my breath.
Middle-Aged Woman - "Yes, that was us! Did you enjoy it, sir?"
I wanted to tell her everything, but I couldn't. All I could muster was this:
Doorman - "You know... I deal with a lot out here. And people are, well..."
I felt a huge lump in the back of my throat. The Middle-Aged Woman kept smiling, nodding for me to keep going. But I couldn't. I started crying. I tried to get a few words out, telling her that her choir was the glimmer of hope I needed. That I was questioning my morals and what kind of man I was becoming. All I wanted to say was that her timing was perfect.
She put her hand on my shoulder and told me about her relationship with God. She told me that, at the age of 60, her relationship with Him is as strong a bond as ever. She told me that what I felt, the overwhelming feeling of love and warmth, was a sign and gift from her Lord and Savior.
She handed me a few pamphlets, along with a business card she shares with her husband from their church in Louisville, KY.
Middle-Aged Woman - "If you ever need to talk, about anything, or if you're ready to let Jesus Christ into your heart, please call either my husband or I. And if you're ever passing through Kentucky, you'll always have a place to stay!"
I know I won't do any of that. Not that I don't appreciate it, or disbelieve anything she said, but I know myself. I know how vicariously I love to live. As much as I hate my job, I keep it to maintain this lifestyle - the partying, the women, the being able to freely use "god damnit". I'm just not cut from that cloth, and I'd be fooling myself if I attempted to give up everything I know to pursue a life dedicated to the church.
However, whereas a few years ago I may blown her off as another "Jesus freak" who was trying to get me to join her "cult", I took this much differently. The situation is really not that complicated - a good person stopped to console a total stranger, who was in need of uplifting. She didn't know me, or what kind of man I was. She didn't care that I was just an asshole to a girl asking for an umbrella, or that I said horrific things to a cabbie trying to get an airport fare to go home, or dismissed and embarrassed a pedicab driver trying to pick up one of my guests. No, she looked at me and saw only a man, having faith that there was some good in him.
Taking religion off the table, it's simply an act of humanity.
After we parted ways, I once again started thinking about the Hispanic Woman. I wanted to do something nice for her. I didn't have a name or room number, so I had to wait till she came downstairs for her next smoke.
I went into one of the storage closets and began digging through the shelves of stuff left behind from past guests. There I found a clear umbrella, with an "I Love NY" logo on it. I looked at the storage tag, which was dated 7/11/14. Perfect. No one will miss this one. I opened it up, making sure it wasn't broken in any capacity.
My plan was to stash it behind the wheelchair ramp and give it to her when she came outside. I thought about what I was going to say:
Hi, I thought about what you said, and I just wanted to give this to you. May be too late, but I just thought I'd do something nice.
Here, I want you to have this. I was a jerk before. Merry Christmas.
Hey, I just wanted to apologize about before. It may be too little, too late. But I just wanted you to have this. Happy holidays.
A few minutes later, the Middle-Aged Woman came downstairs with her husband, daughter, son, sister, brother-in-law and four more people from the choir. Everyone wanted to meet the doorman who was so moved by their performance. Her daughter was the girl I bumped into on the sidewalk before they started singing.
For the next half hour or so, I was surrounded by nearly a dozen smiling, attentive faces. I told them all my story, how I left a cushy teaching job to pursue an acting career in city, only to stumble upon this whole writing thing. I told them about my old theatre company, my filmmaking ambitions, and my quest to find out what all of this was ever for. I was the center of attention. I was happy.
They were really wonderful. Most guests, if it ever gets to a point where I like them enough to open up about my career, will say, "well, good luck to you!", never really taking me seriously. I'll give them my card, tell them to check out my writing and email me what they think. They never do. I refrained from giving these lovely people any link to this blog, with all the "cock suckers" and "mother fuckers" and countless religious exclamations thrown around likely to turn them off a bit.
As we yucked it up, I saw the Hispanic Woman emerge from the elevator, dressed to go out for the evening. She was in a hurry, furiously stamping across the lobby on her way to the door. I quickly excused myself from the group and gave chase.
She walked down the short flight of steps before the door. I hustled after her as I prepared my apology.
Before I could yell, "excuse me", I saw her stop for a moment. She noticed the rain still coming down outside, then looked down at the doorman umbrella, still dry in the corner.
Without a moment's hesitation, she grabbed it and walked out the door, never looking back.
I stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do. A part of me wanted to chase her down with the umbrella I'd intended on giving to her. Another part of me wanted to chase her down and call her a fucking thief. The last part of me wanted to let it go. I did.
The choir group took my excusing myself and taking off like a maniac as a sign that I needed to get back to work. It was the last thing I wanted to do. They said their good nights and offered me a bed in their homes should I visit Kentucky. One of the older gentlemen asked if I was married. I said no, and he offered to help find me a wife. I respectfully declined.
I didn't see the Hispanic Woman after that. She'll never know how close she was to having her day made.
I retreated back to my post, taking the "I Love NY" umbrella that I stashed behind the wheelchair ramp and put it in the corner for the morning guy to find when he gets in. A guest approached me.
Guest - "Can you hail us a cab?"
It was the end of the night. I was now dry from being inside talking to all those people. No use getting soaked again.
I picked up the "I Love NY" umbrella, walked out the door, and opened it up.
I take my place in the street, facing the sea of oncoming traffic lights. The rain drops pound onto the top of the umbrella, trickling down and dripping onto the sleeve of my jacket. I extend my arm.
Back to business.
I'd like to thank you all for another wonderful year of support! None of this happens without you and I want to wish all of you and your families the safest, happiest, and healthiest of holidays! Let's hope 2015 brings bigger and better things to the Doorman story!
Also - This Thursday, Christmas Day, we'll be re-launching the original Doorman pilot. The next day (Friday 12/26 at noon), we'll air our first new episode of the season, titled "C-Note". Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow me on twitter for more updates.
That's what they say, those tourists! Only in New York.
There's no place like it, they'll say.
The magic on the streets, the vibrancy of... fucking Times Square. Or Rockefeller Plaza during Christmas time, taking a picture underneath the tree, a kissy-selfie. Hold hands whilst ice skating. (I just remembered I once, in an bland effort of unoriginal romantic whimsy, asked someone to be my girlfriend as we were ice-skating underneath the tree. Her response - "I don't want to cheat on you." I still dated her for eight months, because I hated myself.) As much as I blast doing the touristy things, I truly do understand the mystique and energy of New York City, and those once-in-a-lifetime moments that could happen at the drop of a hat.
In a New York Minute, they'll say. Everything can change!
One minute, you're lost and beside yourself, letting the foul energy of those around you corrupt your moral core. The next, some fluke encounter happens that gives you a chance at redemption.
Last night, I had one of those moments. A New York Minute, so to speak. I'll put a disclaimer on this right now - this may not be believable. This may sound staged. This may be a bit sappy. To that, I say that if you've stuck with me for three years, you'll want to read it. It's the stories like these that make all of the hellish experiences that you've read about worth living.
But, I digress. On I go.
I've been having a really, really bad week. The week before - AMAZING. Coming off a relaxing vacation, I raked in dough with a positive mindset and attitude. I was smiling, getting huge tips, and, for however brief, enjoying my job. Guests were flocking to me, I was charming, confident, and being handsomely rewarded for doing so. I kept telling myself, "this is how you need to come in every day. You need to remember how to do this."
Then I came in this week.
The freshness began to wear thin, and I found myself more on edge. Less patient. My anxiety began creeping up on me. A few fights with cabbies happened. A few people stiffed me. A few guests treated me like shit. I tried my best to keep a smile on my face and do the right thing by people, only to be thwarted by some unforeseen stroke of bad luck. Whereas fresh-from-vacation Doorman was able to kill them with kindness, Week Two Doorman was running low on fucking stamina to keep this facade going.
By Day 8 of my return from vacation, I'd reverted back to the angry curmudgeon, who fears everyone is going to screw him somehow.
These things, as they normally do, snowballed and my attitude shifted as a result of it. The more bad vibrations you give off on the door, the more conflict you're inviting from the streets. The more conflicts I get into, the less patience I have for the guests. The less patience I have for the guests, the less they feel obligated to tip. It all just fucking sucks.
I've had a many of stretches like this, but the past two days were he epitome of how bad things can get when they're going wrong.
Which brings me to this:
A young hispanic woman stood in front of the door, smoking a cigarette and spitting on the ground after each puff. I've stopped asking people to not smoke there, because I'm not security. But it still pisses me off to see someone smoking directly in the front entrance of a building, not having any consideration for the people having to walk through their clouds of second-hand smoke. After watching her drop several foamy saliva bombs onto the concrete, I couldn't help but look at her with a visceral disdain. We made eye contact, and she smiled warmly. I looked the other way.
Look at her, blowing smoke in people's faces as they walk in, having to step in her fucking mucus, tracking it all over the god damn lobby. This is the garbage that stays here. No wonder I don't have enough money to go Christmas shopping. It's because the hotel is filled with pieces of shit like this.
Maybe last week, with a positive mindset, when things were going my way, I wouldn't have let my mind take me down that road. Maybe I would have thought she was a nice girl with some bad habits. A funny quirk about depression and anxiety (in my own, unique experience), is being fully conscious of what you want to be thinking, how you want to perceive people and situations, and how you want to treat those around you, yet your mind and body just won't fucking let you do it. I wanted to smile back at her, chalk her spitting and smoking up to being what it is, and not think about it ever again. I was fully aware that I shouldn't be judging her as a human being based on watching her out of her element for ten seconds.
But my mind had other plans. My mind was still bitter from getting the short-end of the stick the past couple of nights. My mind wanted to fester on this.
Who the fuck raised this girl? Does she see how gross she's being? And the nerve to do it right here, in front of the door! Lowering the standard of the hotel!!! What an inconsiderate bitch!
And so on.
She dropped her cig into one of the lakes of phlegm she deposited onto the sidewalk, stepped on it, and made her way to the door. I opened it, she made eye-contact, smiled, thanked me, and kept moving.
Over the next couple of hours, it started raining. Hard. The morning doormen keep an umbrella stashed in the corner near the door. I don't use it, because I want people to see me soaked and shivering in hopes of it increasing my tip when hailing taxis.
The rain subsided to a calm drizzle, and I'd gone back to my post once the pre-theatre rush was over. I stood inside the foyer, soaked, with the dry umbrella perched next to me.
The young hispanic woman came down the steps. She smiled at me.
Hispanic Woman - "Hi, is it still raining?"
I didn't look at her.
Doorman - "Just drizzling."
Hispanic Woman - "Can I get that umbrella?"
I didn't have any stake in this umbrella. I hadn't used it in months.
I really, really, have a hard time believing that I'm the person who I'm writing about when I type this, but I just didn't want her to have it. I'm not supposed to be giving umbrellas away because we sell them in the gift shop, but it would have been zero skin off my back to just give her the fucking thing.
I coldly responded:
Doorman - "No, sorry. It's my only one."
Hispanic Woman - "Please? I'm only going around the corner!"
Doorman - "It's not raining hard. This is the only umbrella I have and I need it."
I knew she saw that I was drenched from head to toe, yet the umbrella was dry. Her smile faded. She hands me a cigarette and a lighter.
Hispanic Woman - "Hold this, please."
She lifts a scarf from her neck and begins wrapping it over her head. Once finished, she takes the cigarette and lighter back. I opened the door for her. She took step out the door, then turned to me, a faint desperation in her voice:
Hispanic Woman - "You know - when you do a nice thing for someone, you might make their day."
The hyper-sensitive, me-versus-the-world mindset I was in did exactly as expected: Got defensive.
Doorman - "That's all I do. Nice things. All day."
She puckered her lips, put the cigarette in her mouth, and as she brought the lighter up to her face, got the last word in:
Hispanic Woman - "Right."
And she left.
This infuriated me.
She has no fucking idea what I have to go through out here on a nightly basis! She hasn't the slightest idea how nice I have to be for these ingrates, only to get complained about for things that are out of my control. To get degraded and yelled at by cabbies. To get shit on and stiffed by the guests. My whole existence in this hotel is solely for the purpose of being nice, yet no one seems to be grateful or appreciate what I do till they don't get something they want. Well... FUCK YOU, lady! You don't get MY umbrella! Now, go slip on that reservoir of drool you left in front of my door and choke on that cancer stick!!!
I stood there at the door, my wandering mind digging a deeper and deeper hole. When you stand outside, isolated, for hours on end, night after night, your mind is eventually going to get the best of you. I don't care how strong-willed or intelligent you are, having to do what I do every night will bring out some of the ugliest shades of your personality. The conflicts I get into are about 40% of the battle. The rest is trying to keep my sanity when things get quiet after 7pm.
I immediately started to feel bad about how I treated her. Hell, I felt bad as it was happening. It's like when you're in a fight with a good friend and you're done being mad at them, yet, for whatever stubborn reason you need just a few more days of giving them the cold shoulder. You need to drive home whatever petty point you're trying to make. Like, "hey, I know you're sorry, and I would absolutely want you to talk to me if the shoe were on the other foot, but I'm going to continue to be a prick because I can't break through this wall of pride I've built. So, you can carry on with being a good human while I wallow in my own self-destruction."
I had no reason to be rude to her. Yes, she stood right in front of the door, spitting and blowing smoke in the faces of the other guests. Yes, she could have very well walked off with that umbrella and never returned it, which would have resulted in me getting chewed out by the morning guy. Though she'd be nothing but warm and polite to me personally, which is more than I can say for the majority of people who cross my path. Even the people who tip. You can still tip and be a dick. I see it more often than not.
But what she said to me hit home. I want to do nice things for people. I want to be kind. I want to "make someone's day". It's in my nature. Or at least it used to be. I have no excuse for where I let my brain take me at that given moment. It just took me there.
A few minutes after she was gone, it started to pour again. I thought about whether or not she got to her destination before the rain got heavy. It didn't take long for my question to be answered.
About twenty minutes later, while I was giving a guest directions to Rockefeller Plaza, the young Hispanic Woman ran to the door. She had a to-go bag from, ironically, the Chipotle where I punched that asshole in the stomach. She held the ripped and tattered bag close to her chest, likely as a result of it falling apart in the rain. I was inside by the steps and couldn't get to the door in time, so she ended up opening the door for herself. I don't think she saw my effort to get over there in time, only my standing there when she walked in. She definitely thought I intentionally refused to open the door for her.
She looked up at me, her eyes bloodshot and puffy. She'd been crying. Her clothes were dripping wet. The scarf she'd wrapped around her head had completely soaked into her hair, and her seemingly waterlogged food was now forcibly pressed against her chest. She said nothing and blew past me, disappearing into lobby.
I didn't get a chance to say anything, nor did I know what I would have said had I not been distracted.
I tried to shake it off and go on with my evening, that dreadfully slow crawl to 11pm. But this began to eat away at me. I couldn't stop hearing her voice in my head, over and over again.
You might make someone's day. Do something nice.
A few minutes later, my night would take an unforgettable turn.
I went to a fucking killer wedding a couple of months ago. Killer. It was one of those close-friends-from-home weddings, where I knew about a third of the 300+ people who came ready for war. There was a live band, an absurdly good cocktail hour, deliciously over-indulgent venetian hour, and an after-party that raged deep into the wee hours of the morning.
I remember some of it.
We had shuttle buses bring us from the hotel to the country club where the wedding was located. After fifteen minutes or so of party-bus drinking and yelling, sprinkled with jokes about how staged and contrived the Staten Island-edition of Bar Rescue was, we arrived at the destination. I wish I could tell you more about the exterior of the building. I'm sure it was beautiful.
Though I couldn't help but fixate on one thing.
A lonely doorman, who couldn't have been more than 19 or 20, graciously holding the door open for every wedding guest who passed through. I couldn't take my eyes off his behavior from the second we pulled up to the moment I got to him - his perfect technique, how he stood exactly behind the door as he opened it, how he pridefully made eye-contact and smiled at every single person who passed though. Barely anyone thanked him, yet he shook it off and gave the next person the same warm greeting, no matter what.
I can't begin to tell you how challenging this is. When I'm at work, I lean on the door, press the handicap button, and prop it open with my foot while I write in my notepad. There's something less pride-swallowing about making it look like the act of opening the door is the second-most important thing I'm doing. On the rare occasion where I actually stand where I was trained to stand, open the door like I was trained to open the door, make eye-contact, smile and greet the guest like I was trained to do - then have them not even acknowledge me, I become a belligerent monster and assume every person staying in the hotel is an ungrateful barbarian who isn't worthy of my warmth and comfort. So I take it out on every subsequent guest for the subsequent minutes, sometimes hours. Then I don't make as may tips because everyone thinks I'm an asshole.
Now, at my job, I have every opportunity to hustle my way into making a lot of money. Opening the door for people is, maybe, about 10% of what I do in my 40 hours a week. The rest is all a game. There's no cap on what I can do to put money in my pocket. I spend my shifts running around, yelling at people, putting on a charade to squeeze every dollar I can out of my day. Opening the door is simply a boring activity to pass the time when I'm not digging into everyone else's pockets. As brutal a picture I paint about the shit I deal with (and it's all true), there's an excitement to my job that's difficult to articulate.
This poor fucking kid's sole responsibility was to open the door. That's it. No one to squeeze, no one to hustle, no cash to be made. He just had to stand there, open the door, and smile at people. All of the tips in the building - the bartenders, the servers, the valet guys - were accounted for.
I'll call him "Hal". As I approached, Hal made direct eye-contact:
Hal - "Good evening, sir!"
I, being the overzealous doofus I am, locked eyes with an ear-to-ear smile:
Doorman - "Hello! Thank you, sir! Have a great night! Thank you!!!"
He, like a pro, nodded and was on to the next guest.
I went on with my evening.
After hours upon hours of mixing beers with wine, then vodka, then more wine, more beers, and a bunch more vodka, I managed to keep my shit somewhat together (and by together, I mean dancing with the ferocity of a Liza Minnelli back-up dancer while clearing out large portions of the dance floor with my farts then scurrying away, letting the groom take the fall for them), I remember the drink that did me in: an Irish coffee.
It came during venetian hour, which was presented on the dance floor. This stopped me from displaying my ultra-white, not-rhythmic bodily contortions. I wasn't in the mood for sweets, but made my way over there anyway because a girl I was dreadfully striking out with was craving rainbow cookies. (It's funny, I didn't think I was that drunk at the time. Though after typing this out and realizing that she excused herself from talking to me to eat fucking rainbow cookies may have been a clear indicator that I may not have been the most pleasant company. I stink.)
Amazing as these treats may have been, nothing appealed to my booze-marinated palate. Then I saw someone walking away with a giant Irish-coffee, topped with whipped-cream and chocolate syrup, with fucking cinnamon stick straw. Every the impulse-buyer and exploiter of open bars, I opted to try an Irish coffee. Perfect drunk logic - get some caffeine in me for the after-party, ignoring the fact that the whiskey was now the fourth different type of alcohol I was pumping into my body. I threw a five down in front of the bartender, then turned to see rainbow cookie girl finding a new table to sit at to escape my "I'm going to have my own TV show soon, you'll see" schtick.
I went back to my seat and took one sip of the coffee - a decadent, jolting rush of desert goodness with no remnants of the devil lurking beneath it all. I slurped it down in ninety seconds.
I sprung up - my mind telling me I was ready for four more hours of raging, but my body was a little late to the party with every movement. As I tried to keep the two in tune, I realized that I was now on a rapid decent from fun-loving, party-boy Doorman to Dan Aykroyd in the Santa Clause costume from Trading Places.
The rest of the night was a blur. I'd spent the last couple of hours of the wedding teetering the line between functional and zombified, and the caffeine-infused cocktail was the soft blow of air to push me right the hell off that tight-rope.
My last clear memory was this:
Upon my inelegant exit to the shuttle bus, I spotted my friend, Hal the Doorman, still going strong, biding everyone a farewell and safe trip home.
I knew I was way too drunk for my mule to function. I knew I didn't have the cohesion in my speech to order another drink, let alone convince a woman to come back and join me in the king bed of my hotel room. And I knew that, the second I got on that shuttle bus, I would fall asleep and be done for the evening. But I needed a tiny bit of satisfaction before the lights went out.
I took out my wallet, grabbed the last twenty dollar bill I had, and folded it up in my hand. I made my way over to Hal.
Hal - "Get home safe, sir! Have a great night!"
I loved my intention here. I do. I still look back on it and am proud that, having gotten so inebriated and blown it with all every single woman at a massive wedding, I ended my night on a good deed. Though, I wish I'd been a little more suave about it.
I stopped in front of him, swaying back and forth. My eyes, presumably lazy and unfocused, tried to make contact with his:
Doorman - "Hey... hey, man!"
He didn't skip a beat.
Hal - "Yes, sir?"
Doorman - "Hey... I bet, I bet people don't say hi to you."
He looks at me, confused.
Hal - "I'm sorry?"
I kept slurring.
Doorman - "Sorry, sorry... I bet, I mean, I know... I know how it is, my man."
Hal - "O-K..."
Doorman - "NO! NO! You don't understand! I understand! I understand what it's like!"
Hal - "Sir, are you okay?"
Doorman - "Wait... let me start over..."
I put the twenty in his hand. Like a rookie, he looks at it right away. Cardinal rule of receiving handshake tips - don't look at it till the person who gave it to you walks away.
His eyes popped open. This was a first for him.
Doorman - "I bet no one says 'thank you' when you... when you open the door. It's fucked up. It's fucked up, man. How these fucking assholes don't say thank you, you know?"
Hal looks back at me. For a second, I could see his doorman facade deteriorate, like an actor breaking the fourth wall in a play. He extended his hand to shake.
Hal - "Thank you, sir."
I felt the twenty being returned to my hand. No fucking way.
Doorman - "Hey! HEY! NO! NO!! NOOOOOO!!! Don't you fucking do that!"
I grabbed the twenty and stuffed it in his pants pocket. Pretty sure I grazed the head of his penis with the back of my index finger.
Doorman - "Rule number one of being a doorman - When someone gives you money, you shut the fuck up and take the money!"
He's got nothing. I don't blame him.
Hal - "Umm... okay. Thank you, sir!"
I should have left it at that, but I didn't. I took out my business card, equipped with a link to this very blog.
Doorman - "I'm a doorman in New York City, and... and... I know what it's like. You should read my blog. Because... I think you should read my blog and you should email me when you read it."
Hal looked at it in the most polite was possible, then put it in his pocket. I've been networking for a long time, and I've given out as many business cards as I've received. I knew that, the second I walked away, that business card would follow the same journey as the thousands that came before it - he comes home and empties his pockets onto his dresser. Then, when the time comes to clean the clutter from his dresser, he chucks my card in the garbage, along with the rest of the receipts, movie stubs, and condom wrappers.
Or maybe he went home and checked out the blog.
If that were the case - thanks for reading, Hal! Be sure to check out the new Doorman episodes, starting December 26th!
My recent posts have been, admittedly, a bit dark and self-pitying. What can I say? This is my journal, this is my life, and I have my ups and downs. I didn't realize that I was in a down (or, rather, how much of a downer I've been), till several close friends pulled me aside in bars, asking, "dude, are you okay? I've been reading the blog and, well, I just wanna make sure you're okay."
I assure you, I'm fine. I took a week off from work, took a break from writing for a few weeks, and now I'm recharged. The new Doorman episodes will air at the end of the month. We're drawing interest from various auspicious prospects. The ball is rolling on numerous things. So, sorry if I've been a downer. Onto something funny:
I don't know what made me remember this fucking kid. And I honestly don't know what took me so long to write about him. Maybe because the interaction was so brief, but fuck, did this little bastard make an impression on me in a matter of minutes.
'Twas about two years ago, and I was working an overnight as a bellman. At about 4am, I get a call for a bags-down from a name that started with "Al-" and ended with a series of consonants that I couldn't fathomably pronounce. I groaned loudly, because, not to sugarcoat stuff, Arab people don't fucking tip.
I stomp like a child to the nearest bell-cart and hop in the elevator.
I get to the room. Before I could knock, I hear a man pleading through the door:
Man - "Fartus, stop it. Fartus, get down. Fartus. Fartus! FARTUS!"
The door opens. A wiry-thin, crestfallen man answers the door. The bags under his eyes accentuate and sag so heavily on his olive skin that I had to fight the urge to stab them with my pen to see how much fluid would squirt out of them. He looks as if he'd just gotten done walking across Asia, and he'd met the devil along the way. Judging by the look on his face, I'm not sure if he wants me to help him with his bags or kill him, putting him out of his misery.
I look behind him. The room looks like a fucking grenade hit it. There's candy wrappers everywhere, toys scattered about, some smashed to pieces, a few stuffed animals with their heads pulled off. There's one of those phallic-looking inflatable stadium noise-makers that you bang together (better know as "thundersticks") on the floor next to him, which looks it was bitten till it popped.
Man - "Hello, sir. Please - can you call for me a taxi and help with the bags?"
Before I could step inside, I see a shadowy-figure quickly pitter-patter behind the Man, hiding being the door. This terrifies him as he gestures for me to come inside.
I wheel the cart in, making my way toward the four large suitcases. The door closes. I hear the pitter-patter creep up behind me. I feel a slight whip of wind sail past my left ear. Startled, my eyes jolt up just in time to spot an action figure exploding onto the wall in front of me.
I quickly turn around, hearing the pitter-patter zip elsewhere in the room. No one behind me.
I turn to the Man for an explanation. The moment my eyes lock his, a life-sized, stuffed Stewie Griffin plasters him in the side of the face. He barely reacts to the impact, as though it's something that happens on a minute-to-minute basis. His saggy eyes look to the corner of the room.
Man - "Fartus! Pick that up!"
That's when he emerged from behind the bed.
"Fartus" (I spell it exactly like I heard it), was three feet of unabashed fury, with a menacing mop of black, curly hair atop a candy-tweaking, object-hurling hell-spawn. His black pupils darted about the room, constantly looking for the next toy to destroy, or the next blunt object he could use to assault any and every adult in the room. I've seen some poorly-behaved children in my time working in hotels, but Fartus was in a league of his own. He has a chocolate all over his face. And not just a smidgen, no, I mean all over his fucking face. Like war paint.
Fartus takes one look at me. I avert my eyes immediately. Rookie mistake. He immediately sniffs weakness, then gets a running start and kicks Stewie Griffin in my direction. It connects with my chest before I could put my hands up.
I again turn to the Man for an explanation. He returns an, "if I go to the bathroom for a few minutes, return and Fartus isn't here, I'll give you a million dollars" look back at me.
Man - "Fartus, please. Do not kick the man."
I look at Fartus, knowing all he heard was, "kick the man".
Fartus runs towards me like a locomotive. I defend myself by putting my leg up in the air and extend one arm down, like a Heisman Trophy. Luckily, the Man catches him before he could get to me.
Man - "Fartus, clean this mess up!"
Fartus grabs a second inflatable thunderstick from under the bed. He then jumps, in one fluid motion, on top of a chair. He takes the thunderstick, tucks it between his legs, and begins demonstrating the act of a well-endowed man urinating all over the room.
He jumps off the chair, whacks his father in the testicles with the thunderstick, then bites the noisemaker, growling and snarling as he attempts to make it pop. The Man grabs it and a tug-of-war ensues. Fartus's lockjaw is not match for his feeble, exhausted father. The thunderstick explodes, sending pieces lying about the room. Fartus begins chewing on the remnants of the destroyed plastic toy.
Man - "Fartus, spit that out!"
The Man puts his fingers in Fartus's mouth to recover the tiny pieces of plastic. Now, I've known this kid for three minutes. I could have told this fucking idiot what was about to happen.
Fartus clamps his teeth down on his father's fingers. The Man screams and yanks them out. Fartus runs towards me. I hide behind the bell cart. The Man gives chase and grabs his son before he could assault me. Fartus does the patented back-arch that children do to slink out of the grasps of their parent's clutches. I begin furiously loading the suitcases on the cart. Fartus his the floor and begins screaming. I yell over them:
Doorman - "Okay, sir! I'm going to bring this stuff downstair call you a taxi!"
Man - "Thank you, sir!"
Fartus breaks free, climbs on top of the bed, and starts rigorously jumping. I load the last piece of luggage onto the cart, then quickly head towards the door. Before I could leave, I hear a gurgling sound, followed by a splash onto the carpet.
I turn to see a puddle choco-vomit on the floor, and Fartus continuing to jump on the bed with an increasing ferocity. Projectile vomiting didn't deter him from jumping for a fucking nanosecond.
Man - "Fartus, look what you did!"
I scurry out of there before the next bad thing could happen. I close the door, push the cart down the hall a few feet, and press the elevator button. I hear the Man's muffled please from the other side of the door.
Man - "Fartus, please! Fartus, put your shoes on! Fartus, come back here! Fartus! FARTUS!!!"
I get to the lobby and leave the cart a few feet away from the bell desk. I get on the horn for a car service, because I'm positive that I won't be getting tipped and want to salvage some money from this interaction.
Seeing that it's 4am, I have a difficult time getting a dispatcher on the phone. After a few attempts with no success, Fartus and his father exit the elevator. Without hesitation, Fartus darts to the bell cart and begins to climb it like King Kong.
The Man approaches me with a five dollar bill in his hand. I tuck the ringing phone receiver between my shoulder and jaw and graciously accept.
Man - "Thank you, sir."
Oh, wow. Okay.
The driver answers the phone on the other hand.
Driver - "Hello?"
I look up and see Fartus atop the cart. King Kong has come and conquered.
Doorman - "Hey, are you close? I have a job. Newark, two people."
Driver - "Yes, I'm pulling up now."
That's another ten bucks. What I thought would be a giant goose-egg just turned into a $15 job. I nod to the Man.
Doorman - "Great, I'll bring them right out!"
I hang up the phone and begin to walk around the desk to the cart.
That's when I saw it unfold.
Fartus, in an attempt to swing himself from one side of the cart to the other, loses his balance and begins his decent down to the floor.
Now, this may be a stretch of a reference, but fuck it, I'll give it a shot:
There's a live-action film from the 80's about a cat and dog called The Adventures of Milo and Otis that's narrated by Dudley Moore. We watched it often when we were kids. I don't remember much about the film, other than one part that my brother and I would repeatedly rewind while howling with laughter: At some point, Milo the Cat gets into a pickle and is forced to jump off a cliff, landing safely into a body of water. The filmmakers, much to our amusement, opted to capture this in super slow-motion (after a bit of digging, I found said moment at the 2:26 mark of this video). We would sit there and watch this poor cat flailing it's legs and summersaulting off the cliff over and over and over again, laughing uncontrollably as our worried mother looked on and wondered if she was raising two imbeciles (she wasn't, he's in medical school and I'm a, well, ... fuck you).
But I digress. Maybe it was the length of time that I'd been awake, or maybe it was that I secretly wanted it to happen, but I watched Fartus fall from the bell cart in super slow-motion, just as little Milo did off the cliff.
He lands on his back, with his disproportionate dome smacking the carpeted floor of the lobby with a loud thud. He immediately tries to get up, though staggers to the side like a drunkard and topples over again.
Fartus lay lifeless on the floor. His father and I run over immediately.
Man - "Fartus! Fartus!"
The Man picks up his son. The scattered people in the lobby all rush to the attention of little, limp Fartus. After a moment, his eyes boggle open... and he slaps his father in the mouth.
The Man, defeated, immediately and carelessly drops him. Fartus lands on his feet, like a cat. He proceeds on with running around in circles and wreaking havoc.
I bring the luggage out to the car, thank the Man and wish him luck on his trip home. I never saw them again.
It just occurred to me that, after several straight evenings of nearly losing my mind on pedestrians and guests alike, I found myself able to control my temper at work last night. I had what most people would call a "good" night. I'd like to talk about that for a moment.
I say it was a "good" night, not because I made a lot of money and was showered in tips and respect, but because I didn't snap at anyone. I didn't catch an attitude, I didn't punch a taxi, I didn't facetiously yell "enjoy your stay" or "have a safe trip" after getting stiffed.
And I got stiffed. A lot. One guy gave me 40 cents. It's the worst tip I've ever gotten. I delivered bags to his room, and he had a dime, nickel, and quarter waiting for me on the table.
You know what I did? I smiled and said "thanks".
I got stiffed more than I had all week. Cartload after cartload of heavy luggages, getting taxis in the freezing cold, busting my ass for nothing. Maybe I was out of it, seeing that I went to a funeral right before work. Maybe I was just grateful that it was my Friday and I have the next three days off. Whatever the case, I handled all of the stiffing and the disrespect with class and warmth. I did my job the way I was supposed to. I had a "good" day.
So, after three years, it's dawned on me- having a "good" day at work means that I took people's shit better than I would on any other day. That's really fucked up.
Think about that - at my job, in my position, having a "good" day behavior-wise translates to "people treated me horribly and I was able to suppress it and smile while slowly dying inside".
I had something of a humbling experience today. It came off a rough weekend (more on that later), and it was raining. If you've read this blog a bit, or are a newcomer and have a wee bit of imagination to exercise, you can understand that rainy days are hell for me. I won't explain the fuck that is a rainy evening on the old door for fear of redundancy, but allow me to provide a highlight reel leading up to said humbling event. Because who doesn't love a good #Doorman montage?
3:01pm - I step outside to start my shift. An African man, escaping the rain, runs under the marquis and discovers our heat lamps that hang from above. All winter long, I have to entertain every schmuck who feels these fucking lamps, praising me for a job of keeping them warm well done. It got old my first week there. Though this man has a different reaction. He turns to me, menacing smile, then gets in my face.
African Man - "This is a nice heat lamp."
Doorman - "Thank you."
He looks up, the orange rays washing over his face as beads of rainwater drip from his hair. His smile never falters. The gap in his front teeth is large enough to roll up a newspaper and shove through to the back of his throat.
I put my hands in my pockets and give a toothless smile, riding out the seemingly nirvana-like experience this man is having.
African Man - "This is a nice job, you have."
Doorman - "Yeah, it's fantastic."
I was being facetious, in case that wasn't clear. He sizes me up, sensing the disdain that I have for my job. His smile grows larger, more menacing. I've been at work for ninety seconds and I'm already fearing a confrontation.
African Man - "This is a nice job. Stand here. Do nothing. Make lots of money."
What the fuck, man?! I just got here.
Doorman - "Yeah."
I grind my teeth. I can feel the little wick inside my gut begin to flicker. This guy's looking for an unprovoked confrontation. I don't want to give it to him. Not yet.
I look into his yellow eyes. My weak chin and warm eyes don't inspire much fear. I'm an easy target for him. I'm a snack.
African Man - "This is a nice job. You do nothing. Sit under warm lamps. Make lots of money."
I don't bite. He puts the exclamation point on his disposition:
African Man - "Perfect job. For a white man!"
Now, that statement is loaded. It could mean many things for many different intentions. Right off the bat, he was trying to goad me into a confrontation. I wasn't about to take the bait. This was, however, the last thing he was going to say to me.
Doorman - "You done?"
He just keeps smiling. I notice the little clitoris-like thingy dangling from the gums between the gap in his teeth. You know what I'm talking about.
Doorman - "Get the fuck out of here."
He laughs a big old "muuuhahahahaa" and goes about his day.
I'm sure any service industry worker an attest to this: When your very first interaction of the day is as negative and deflating as that one, you know a precedent has been set. On we go…
3:45pm - Out in the rain getting taxis for people. Gypsy driver pulls up. He looks past me and starts screaming to my guests:
Gypsy Driver - "Taxi? Taxi?"
Doorman - "No, thanks."
Gypsy Driver - "Taxi! Taxi! Where you going?"
Doorman - "I said no!"
Gypsy Driver - "Fuck you! You're doorman! Your job is to open door!"
Doorman - "They're not getting in the car with you."
Gypsy Driver - "FUCK YOUR MOTHER! FUCKING FAGGOT!!!"
He peels off. Got a taxi five minutes later. No tip, but I got a "cheers, brilliant, fank you" as a consolation prize.
4:15pm - Still raining. New guests, going local.
Taxi driver with lights on pulls up. I try to open the door.
Taxi Diver - "Where?"
Fuck it. Not gonna do this bullshit again. I take my hand off the door and look ahead into the street for the next available taxi.
Taxi Driver - "Where?! Where?! WHERE?!?"
I ignore him.
Taxi Driver - "Airport?!?"
A long pause.
Taxi Driver - "Fuck you, motherfucker!"
Not going to fight.
Taxi Driver - "Fuck you, piece of shit motherfucker!"
Does everyone get spoken to like this at work?
My hand shakes. All I want to do is poke his eyes out with my umbrella. But I don't. Not going to fight. Not going to engage this bullshit.
He peels off.
5:01pm - My 97-year-old co-worker is wheeled out and needs a taxi. Just in the knick of time - raining, during rush hour, in midtown Manhattan. Can't wait.
Over the course of the next 45 minutes, I stand in the street, watching shuttles and limos pull up, picking up and dropping off passengers, potential tips being flushed down the toilet so I could get my geriatric co-worker a taxi home.
Aren't I such a swell guy?!?
5:50pm - After finally putting my co-worker into a taxi, I see several people smoking in front of the door, blowing smoke in people's faces as they try to enter the hotel. It's my responsibility to keep people from smoking near the front entrance. Sounds like a job for security, but no, it's mine. It's my job, as a tipped employee, a yes-man, to alienate the only people whom I have a chance at getting to know during their stay.
I ask at the smokers to kindly use the side entrance to smoke. They all do, except one man. He's wearing a fanny-pack. I hate fanny-packs. He takes one step to the side and scoffs. Fucking asshole. Whatever, not going to fight.
6:00pm - Getting a taxi for guests. Another gypsy pulls up. Yells past me to the guests, just like the last one.
Gypsy - "Black car, folks?"
Doorman - "No, thanks."
Gypsy - "I'm not talking to you!"
Doorman - "No, thanks."
Gypsy - "Shut up!"
Doorman - "No, thanks."
Gypsy - "Fuck you! Fucking cocksucker!"
He pulls away.
6:10pm - Another gypsy.
Gypsy - "Taxi! Taxi!"
Doorman - "No."
Gypsy - "Fuck you!'
He pulls away.
6:12pm - Another gypsy.
Gypsy - "Taxi?"
Doorman - "No, thanks."
Gypsy - "Okay, sir."
Well, that's a nice change of pace.
I take a step forward and scan the street for an available yellow cab.
I hear talking behind me.
I turn around, and my guests are showing the gypsy driver where they're going.
Doorman - "Yo! NO!"
Guest - "I'm sorry, you're just taking too long."
Doorman - "No! I'll get you a cab. Don't take this car. These guys will rip you off!"
The Gypsy pops his head out of the car.
Gypsy - "Mind your business, motherfucker!"
Doorman (to the guest) - "I'm just trying to help you. I live here. Don't get in that car."
Guest - "I have somewhere to be."
He gets in. No tip, no "thanks for your troubles".
The Gypsy smirks, then flips me the bird.
Whatever. Fuck 'em. They deserve each other. Not gonna fight.
Shuttle-bus pulls up. He gives me the names of two guests. I go in the lobby, soaked and dripping with rain water. My boss emerges from the elevator.
Boss - "What are you doing inside?"
Apparently, the wet dog isn't allowed in the house.
Doorman - "I'm looking for a guest."
He doesn't believe me. I keep doing my job.
I find the people and bring them out. No tip, no thank you.
I turn around, and there's the fanny-pack wearing smoker, lighting up in front of the door again. I give him a moment to walk away. He doesn't.
Doorman - "Sir, I've told you this twice, the smoking area-"
He swings around quickly and gets in my face. I didn't think he spoke English, which would have made this understandable. But he did. He can read the "non smoking area" sign. He was British, and spoke in that fucking soccer-hooligan accent that was barely decipherable.
Fanny - "Now, I've been smoking here all fucking day. All fucking day. And now you're telling me I can't? What's your problem, huh? What's your problem, you fucking bloke?"
Every man has his breaking point.
This wasn't mine.
Doorman (pointing to the sign) - "Sir, this is a non-smoking area. I'm just doing my job-"
Fanny - "FOCK AWF!!!"
He spikes the cigarette on the ground in front of me and walks away. He gets a few steps, and I feel a burning in my stomach, bubbling like an overfilled pot of water. The tip of my tongue wants to spew out "fuck you, you fucking limey cunt", then tackle him and engage in a fistfight with the rain down pouring. Like Lethal Weapon! Yeah!!!
Before I could do that and lose my job, he turns around for the last word:
Fanny - "I wouldn't stay here again if you paid me 600 dollars!"
Those are his words, verbatim. Not sure where he came up with that figure. Didn't care enough to ask.
It was at that point that I needed a break. I needed to find a bellman to cover the door. I needed for nothing to happen, nor anyone to engage me, till I've had fifteen minute to myself to have a coffee, or watch TV in the break room, or sit on the toilet. Anywhere but here.
I grab the first bellman I see. He tells me that he's not the guy with the least seniority, so he doesn't have to. The difference between working as a bellman and doorman is staggering. If you're a bellman and you get stiffed, or a guest yells at you, you can sit in the locker room and thumb through Facebook and Instagram till whenever the fuck you feel like it. When you're a doorman, no matter how bad things get, you can't leave your post till you find the lowest guy on the totem pole to cover you.
After a few more minutes of desperately staring into the lobby from the door (because the wet dog isn't allowed inside the house), the low man comes down from a front. I jump and flail my arms like a maniac, which pisses him off because he knows he's going to be stuck on the door for the next 10-15 minutes. If there's any indication to how shitty my job is compared to my coworker's, it's how they react for having to do it for a ridiculously brief window of time.
The bellman comes to the door. I decide to vent a little bit, because I don't want to spend my 15 minute break completely pissed off. I want to let off a little steam. I give him a brief rundown of the past couple of hours, putting on a frantic show. He's mostly amused, as most of my co-workers have grown accustomed to my sporadic tantrums when I let a bunch of shit build up. I end it with this:
Doorman - "I'm telling you, bro. One of these days, you're just gonna hear a scream from out here. And you'll turn around and see me standing over an unconscious body. I'm gonna knock someone the fuck-"
Then I was interrupted:
I'll call him "Donald", because he looked like the comedian Donald Glover, if you aged him 20 years and fed him a quart of whiskey every day. Donald man had on decent enough clothing, didn't smell, and was wearing trendy, thick-rimmed glasses. He held an old, ragged coffee to-go cup in his hand. It's common for panhandlers to use these for people to drop change into, though his had a lid on it, meaning it was probably filled with booze. Donald was clearly troubled, but certainly not homeless:
Donald - "Hello, gentlemen! Can you spare a dollar of two for the homeless! I'm just trying to get something to eat!"
I never give money to people who ask for it on the street. And I especially don't give it to anyone while on the door. For one, I know all-too-well about the various panhandling hustles that go on. I know of several people who hang around the hotel and make a decent living pretending to be homeless. Call me a jaded New Yorker, but I just don't fucking trust anyone's story. Secondly, I don't donate at work because if I give one guy a dollar, every unfortunate soul in the neighborhood will hit me up for cash. I work too hard and deal with too much bullshit to share my earnings. Sorry, not sorry.
Doorman - "No, sorry. I have nothing."
(Now, if I were honest, I would have finished that sentence with "to give you…")
That should have been the end of it. I don't get many panhandlers asking me for money because they know better. But when they do, they just walk away. Or they try and guilt me with an, "Okay, bless you, sir!"
Donald - "Yeah, right! That's what I always hear! 'I have nothing'!"
Doorman - "I don't."
Donald - "Yeah, cause you don't care! You don't care about the homeless!"
On some level, he's right. I literally just explained how I refuse to give money to people who ask. Though this is coming from a street-smart guy who grew up here, who's been ripped off before and doesn't want to see his hard-earned dollars leeched away by one of these hustlers. I dismiss him.
Doorman - "Are you kidding me? Get the fuck out of here."
Donald - "Man, fuck you! White motherfucker!"
If the past 3 hours of my life were a hockey game, I'd be the guy who's been getting checked and clipped and slashed all night (forgive my lack of knowledge for hockey terms, I'm still learning), who, at some point, when the time is right, will drop his gloves and deliver hell onto the unfortunate chud who crosses his path at the wrong time. This guy was that chud, and his use of "white motherfucker" was that very-last stick to the face (or whatever pisses off hockey players and causes them to fight, I dunno).
I dropped my gloves and got right in his face. I screamed at him, threw him off. Asked where he got the balls to question my morals. Challenged him to what the fuck he knows about me.
I'm really not certain of what was said in detail, because it's all a blur. I definitely kicked it into high gear, screaming in his face about how I'd beat him within an inch of his life, right here on the sidewalk. He called me a "Manhattan pussy" and that "he's from Harlem", which makes perfect sense. I also remember him repeatedly telling me to "suck a dick", to which he'd top it off with "you white motherfucker". And that "he wish I'd step to him", to which I retorted "you don't scare me, bitch", even though I was fucking terrified. At some point security came out and separated us.
Lots of screaming. Lots of threatening. Lot's of measuring dicks. Just a couple of frustrated souls, unloading their baggage onto each other for the amusement of every mouth-breathing passer-by with a smart phone on this busy Manhattan avenue.
I'd like to pause for a moment and remind you that this has all happened before my lunch break.
I eventually walked into the hotel. Not because I backed down, but because the manager had gotten wind and come outside (and boy, I tell ya, he's lucky the manager came out! Fart.) Donald screamed at me from down the block for a pretty extended period of time, threatening me and suggesting I take up fellatio.
I sat down in the break room, leaning back and trying to figure out how the fuck my life had gotten to this point. I graduated college seven years ago. I didn't expect the rule the world, though I never thought that my every day life would be reduced to arguing with people about where they can't smoke and which taxi they can take to the theater. And I never thought, for a second, that I would need to vomit out a day's worth of frustrations by getting into near fisticuffs with some panhandler who questioned my morals.
After cooling off, I return to my post. I'm not even at the halfway point of my shift yet, and I've been called more names than I can count. This wasn't what I was put on this earth to do.
The next thirty minutes were fairly uneventful, considering I spent most of them hiding inside the foyer, using the handicap button to prop open the door. I'm not supposed to do that by any means, but I wasn't about to get into it with anyone again. I'd take getting written up or, if I'm lucky, being sent home for not standing outside where I belong.
Taxi pulls up, and the trunk pops open. I step out to retrieve the bags. Just as I hit the heat lamps, Donald walks by with a Subway sandwich in a bag.
He stares me down, though not in a threatening way. He squints his eyes through his designer glasses, almost as if he's trying to figure out where he knows me.
Fuck it, let's get this over with.
Doorman - "What?"
He takes the bag with his sandwich in it, and feeds it onto the pinky finger of his other hand, which is holding his coffee cup full of booze. Then he puts his free hand in his pocket. He holds it there.
Donald - "You the dude that was talking all that shit before?"
Well, I guess this is it. Of all the questionable people that I've cursed out, threatened, and called out to come back and fight me after work, this is going to be the one who actually comes back and shoots me. At least I made it out of my twenties.
Might as well take it like a man. Though I turned to see if security was near the door. They weren't.
Doorman - "Yeah."
He looks me up and down. We make eye contact. There's a certain menacing in his eyes that I'd noticed in the first altercation. A menacing that was completely gone now. There's an emptiness this time. He looked lost, like he was asking for directions.
Donald - "Why'd you yell at me, man?"
When you're expecting to be shot or stabbed, you tend to give very vague answers.
Doorman - "Because..."
Donald - "I'm not a beggar."
He takes his hand out of his pocket. Nothing. Just a few fresh cuts on his knuckles. Looks like he'd just gotten done punching a brick wall.
Donald - "When you went off on my like that, it reminded me of my dad. He used to get drunk and beat my ass, man!"
I still don't know if this is building up to him assaulting me, so I tread lightly.
Doorman - "Well... you DID call me a 'white motherfucker'."
He looks down at the floor.
Donald - "I'm sorry, man. It's just when you yelled at me, it got me so mad. I'm bi-polar. You know what that is?"
Doorman - "Yes, I do."
Donald - "Let me explain it to you-"
Doorman - "Seriously, you don't have to-"
Donald - "It means I'm cool one minute, and the next, I'm fucked up."
Doorman - "Okay."
For the next few minutes, he told me a little bit about himself. He opened up his coffee cup, which was filled with beer. It was his 9th that day, and certainly not his last. He told me that he starts drinking when he wakes up and doesn't stop till he blacks out. He'll end up in a different, random place, the following day. Since he's unemployed and spends all his panhandling money on beer, he can't afford medication to regulate his severe mood swings. He's a ticking time bomb, aimlessly walking around the city and picking fights with people every day.
A part of me wondered how often this happens - him getting into an explosive confrontation, only to come back a short while later and apologize. Hell, he didn't even recognize me when he came back. And, back to that whole jaded, street-smart New Yorker thing - I wondered if this was part of his game to squeeze me for some money. Because, after hearing his battle with mental illness (a soft spot for me), I started to feel some sympathy for him.
I offered to buy him a cup of coffee, to which he accepted. We stood in front of the hotel diner for a few more minutes. That's where he really opened up, to the point where I wasn't sure if he were talking to me, or just aloud and I happened to be standing there:
Donald - "I'm a good dude, man. I got a heart of gold. I just can't put down the drink. And every time I get something to eat, but I can't take it back to the shelter cause they don't want none of us to bring food back there. But I want to get a job working as a dishwasher or something. My brother got me a job in Memphis, Tennessee a couple of years ago. He lent me a suit. Then he died about a year ago. He was the last of my family, man. But I got that job, man. I got that job cause of that suit that my brother gave me. And I worked there for a year. Making sandwiches, man. Doing whatever the customer needs. I was good at it. I did it for a year, man. Then my brother died and I got all fucked up. Started drinking again. They buried my brother in that suit, man. Then I'm up here in New York and I can't get a dishwasher job. I just wanna work in the restaurants, man. But I can't put down the drink. Then the other night, I was in the shelter and it was so cold. I had to go into a McDonald's and a nice man like you bought me a coffee, and it kept me warm at 3am. I just gotta get a dishwasher job, man..."
This went on for several more minutes. He kept bringing up his past, then would eventually loop it back to not being able to get a dishwasher job in the city. I couldn't get a word in edgewise. I wanted to listen, though I didn't know if there were an endgame to this. Eventually, a shuttle-buss pulled up, bailing me out.
I'm really not sure how much of what he was saying was true. If all of it were, then I feel for him. If it weren't, and he was just walking around, fighting and drinking all day and telling this story to garner some sympathy, then I feel for him more. The alcoholism and mental illness hits close to home for me.
We shook hands. I wished him the best of luck. Told him that the road back starts with putting down the bottle. He nodded quickly and dismissed the notion, as most alcoholics will do. Then, as I was about to leave, he mischievously smiled and asked:
Donald - "Yo! You got a dollar?"
I went back to my post, riding out the rest of the evening without confrontation.
This past weekend, I lost an old college friend to cancer. She was a frequent collaborator, confidant, and loyal supporter of anything and everything I've ever done. We grew together as artists while in school and while we'd drifted apart over the past few years, as most college friends usually do, she would always be there for any play, or stand-up set, or screening to show her love and support. I just wish I'd reciprocated that support a little more. She was truly a gem who was beloved by her friends and family, as well as the Staten Island theatre community.
If you can take a moment to read her story, please click here. If you can donate anything to help her family pay for her expenses, that would be amazing. No donation is too small.
Smile. Smile. Smile. Remember to smile! Guest yells. Keep smiling. Your upbeat and positive energy is contagious! Have them catch you at your best! Greet the guest, with a smile. Greet every guest as they pass by! Don't say too-familiar, uneducated phrases like, "hello", or "haya doin?" Greet them with the time of day, so they know you've put some thought and effort into it! "Good morning, good afternoon, good evening!" "Good evening, folks! Welcome back!" Don't say, "you're welcome" or "no problem!" Let them know that it's "my pleasure", and "all the best!" And smile! Smile! Smile! Smile!
Depression issues? Just keep smiling! Smile through the pain and inferiority complex! Smile, even though this person in front of you is calling you an imbecile! Smile, even when a bus driver embarrasses you in front of 50 people! Smile, even when you carry twenty 100 lb+ bags in without a tip or thank you! Smile, greet the guest as they walk by texting, not thanking you for holding the door open! Smile, because they aren't obligated to thank a fellow human being for doing something they can easily do themselves, but shouldn't have to because they're on vacation! Smile, even when you blink and three years have gone by and you're still doing what you've sworn to not do by every previous year's end!
The guest experience is important. Staff efficiency and kindness will make or break any property, regardless of star-status or make-up. A three star property can be elevated to a four star with top-notch service and excellence. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to learn how you can better serve the guests! If the bellmen and doormen in a hotel are making $1200 a week, they're doing something wrong! You can make up to $350 a day in tips, with a sound work ethic and hunger to provide the guest with an outstanding experience! This is a six-figure job! Just remember to keep smiling!!!
Had a death in the family? Just keep smiling! Woke up this morning so depressed that you can't get out of bed, only to realize that you have no more sick days left and need to make the rent this month? Leave it at the door. Your personal issues should be left in your locker with the street clothes you changed out of before you put that uniform on. Remember, that uniform is a representation of the hotel, not whatever baggage you have swirling around in your head. The only baggage you need to worry about, is the one you're carrying into the hotel (LOL)!
Down time? Walk around the lobby, introduce yourselves to guests. Offer them a map. Let them know you're there to help with anything they need. And SMILE! Don't see a non-busy time as an opportunity to check your email or social media pages. See it as a time to ingratiate yourselves and build forever-lasting relationships!
Some cabbie called you a "cunt faggot motherfucker"? You mustn't become angry in front of the guests. Continue to smile, even when civilians treat you like you're a public servant whipping post. Remember, your uniform is a representation of the hotel, so you must be kind and gracious to every pedestrian who rudely pumps you for information and berates you when you aren't as helpful as they would like. When a non-guest dupes you into thinking that they're staying with us so you can fetch them a taxi in the rain, then doesn't tip or say thank you, you must maintain your smile and be kind and gracious. You never know - maybe one day, when they're planning their next trip to NYC, they'll remember the friendly doorman who helped them get a taxi and it'll prompt them to book with us! Always remind them to book through our website for the best possible rate and free access to wifi codes (a $19.99 per-day value!)
Guests come in after along day of walking around Times Square and taking pictures with ex-convicts dressed like Disney characters? Don't just say "hello!". Offer them a foot massage! Give them literature on the hotel spa, where if they book an appointment directly through the concierge, can receive a discount of up to 10% on all facials and pedicures!!!
Have a guest call you a "piece of shit doorman, who will just open the door and carry bags until he dies" because he got charged for an extra day on the valet service? Refer them to the manager (with a smile) and we'll explain ways we can improve our customer service. There's nothing that can't be solved with a little quality damage control (with a smile), to compensate for the inadequacies of our still-learning staff members. Remember, every instance where a guest leaves unhappy is a learning experience. Also - you mustn't allow a mistake on such a large scale deter you from smiling and providing the following guest with an immaculate stay. (And always make sure to remind them to tell us what they think on Trip Advisor, so we could further enhance the guest experience!)
See a one of our business-traveler guests come in, having struck out at the bar? Don't just ask "how was your evening, sir?" Offer them a hand-job! Provide them with VIP cards to the gentleman's club on 52nd street. That's a comped entry, which is a twenty dollar value! We cannot have our white-collar clientele going home with any pent-up aggression. If they leave aroused and frustrated, why would they ever return?
Also - with the emergence of apps like Lyft and Uber, it's easy to overlook the value of putting a guest in a taxi quickly and efficiently. If this means having a specific type of taxi waiting for a guest, during rush hour in in-climate weather, with every pedestrian in the city fighting for a taxi, so be it! Nothing is impossible, as you are aware of our slogan: "Here at the (redacted) Hotel, we make the impossible a reality!" If you have to jump in front of traffic to nab a taxi across the street, it is in the best interest of the hotel and those of the guest that you do so. Getting eviscerated by an oncoming vehicle (with a smile) is only a small sacrifice for an immaculate guest experience. Our union doctors will have you back to work in no time, with several hours of physical therapy covered by our various insurance plan packages!
In conclusion, please remember that any bouts of clinical depression, anxiety attacks, intermittent lapses of psychosis, emotional turmoil, or any other contagious moods which may sour the guest experience are not to be demonstrated on the property under any circumstances. Employees found exhibiting these behaviors are subject to immediate dismissal.
Online dating has ruined me. Serial dating. The constant stimuli of opening up an app on my iPhone, swiping and judging and sending these fleeting messages that bails me out of feeling any sort of rejection, because once I press "send", I'm onto the next candidate.
There's a woman sitting across from me on the subway. Gorgeous. She's playing sudoku, or maybe a crossword puzzle - the old-fashioned way, with a pen and newspaper. Not this app bullshit. I see her tapping her pen with her left hand. No ring on her finger. She looks up at me. Human interaction. My eyes immediately dart to my phone. After 30 years of life, I still can't shake the instinct to immediately avert my eyes when they lock with those of a beautiful woman.
She takes a break from her crossword, or sudoku and looks at her phone. Maybe puts on some music. She looks straight ahead, then back at me.
Do I say hi? Do I smile? Do people strike up conversations on the subway-
A tap on my shoulder.
Another woman. Even more gorgeous than the one in front of me. She's been sitting next to me the whole time and I hadn't noticed. She asks:
Her - "Excuse me, what was the last station?"
I know this, because as I exchanged glances with the woman in front of me, we passed by W4th Street.
Me - "West 4th."
I look down at her left hand. No ring.
I glance at the girl in front of me. She's eating pistachios now. Sloppily. Greedily. Licking her fingers after breaking each shell.
I turn back to the girl next to me.
Her - "Oh no! I missed it!"
Her English is good, but she's not from around here. South America, maybe.
Me - "Where are you trying to go?"
Her - "59th st. East Side."
She can get off at the next 3 stops and transfer to the train she needs. I try to tell her this, but she panics. Her energy makes me more nervous, and I stumble in my speech as the train pulls into 14th Street.
Is this some serendipitous moment that I should seize?
I look to the woman across from me. She's thumb-deep in pistachio salt residue.
The lost woman stands up and walks out the door. Wandering. Looking for a sign to let her know that she's going the right way.
I sit there, trying to wave and get her attention, but she panics and doesn't get back on. The sliding doors close. We lock eyes for a brief moment, and I stupidly give her a thumbs-up to let her know that she's in the right place.
I beat myself up, knowing that I could have lied and said she could only transfer at 50th, where I was getting off. I could have had another five minutes. I could have asked her to have coffee with me. Could have been something meaningful. Or would it have been? Maybe I misinterpreted the intentions of a woman who was simply lost and looking for directions? She could have asked anyone on the train, anyone at all, but she chose to tap my shoulder, have me take out my earbuds to ask me. Or maybe she asked me because, oh I don't know, I was sitting right the fuck next to her?!
I glance at old pistachio-fingers in front of me, packing up her newspaper and bag of nuts, getting ready to exit at 34th St Penn Station.
She locks eyes with me again. This time she smiles. I maintain.
Do I say hi? How do people do this shit? Do people actually do this? Do people meet people on the subway? Am I a creep if I say hi? Am I a creep if I ask for her number? What's the worst-case scenario? She maces me? That would suck. I've never been maced. That's a good thing. I've never taken a picture of my penis. Also a good thing.
Train rolls into 34th St Penn Station. She gets up and leaves right away. Quickly. She's in a hurry. She disappears into the sea of mass-transit commuters and lost tourists. I am bailed out.
I was kidding myself. I'll never, in a million years, get the nerve to ask a woman for her number on the subway. I'll create scenarios in my brian, artificial futures and different lives flashing by and vanishing just as quickly. None of which will ever some to fruition.
The Washington Heights-bound C train stops at 50th. I exit and climb up the steps, staring at my phone and eagerly awaiting the top bar to go from "No Service" to "Verizon LTE". I open tinder, swipe a few times. Two new matches. Katie and Amber. Amber is cute. Katie looks like a close friend's identical twin. Block Katie. Enter TD Bank, fill out deposit slip, wait on line. Open Hinge. New batch of matches. Click the "hearts" on ever picture. Three new matches. Doreen, Ashley, Madison. Peruse their profiles. Message Ashley, ask her how her hump day is going. Open OkCupid. Two new visitors. Meg2213 visited me. She's cute. I click "like."
The bank teller calls me over. She's attractive and sweet. I see her three or four times per week. Her claddagh ring points outward on her right hand. I notice this every day, yet never act upon it. She hands me my receipt, I thank her and leave.
Open OkCupid again to see if Meg2213 "likes" me back. Nothing. I walk to work. Change into my uniform. Ten minutes to kill. I swipe on Tinder some more. No matches. I stare at my phone, waiting for a response. Nothing. Open Facebook, no new notifications. Open Twitter, no new notifications. Open OkCupid again, no new notifications. Open Hinge, no new notifications.