Now that you know the essential basics of thriving as a luggage mule, here are some more pointers to help you maximize the amount of money you get to take home every night:
8 - Never, under any circumstances, overlook someone who has taken care of you.
Whenever someone takes care of you, whether it's a five when you valet the car, or a ten when you bring their luggage to reception, or the slip of a few crispy singles when you get them a taxi, you scan their face like the Terminator and remember the shit out of them. Why? Two reasons:
A- The obvious: Because they understand how this whole thing works, and they'll likely have more fucking money for you.
B - If you don't, it's just a dick move. Don't be a dick.
I never really understood the importance of "B" till I had a few experiences with my own doormen (yes, I have doormen). The guys in my building are awesome, save for some who have a bad attitude about the job. And, believe me, I get it. No one is perfect and I can imagine that it's VERY tough to keep a smile on your face day-in and day-out when you live in a building like mine (full of drunken, twenty-something professionals and trust-fund brats). There are two guys, though, that I have a problem with.
One is with a guy, "Jerry", who, in the two years I've lived in that building, has never so much as smiled or said hello to me. That's fine. I'm not high-maintenance, nor do I need to be coddled every time I enter or leave. I always greet the guys on my way in and out. It's just my thing. This dude flirts with girls, jokes around with delivery guys and the other doormen, completely ignoring me in the process. Every. Single. Time. Like I said, I understand the job. I understand that it's tough to put a smile on. I get it. But this guy has every reason to just say hello to me. Here's why:
After Hurricane Sandy, we were forced out of our apartments for four months due to critical damage to the building's electrical equipment. Despite the fact that the property had no heat or electricity for weeks, the maintenance and door staff still worked around the clock to protect and restore our building. They were rock stars. When we received notice that we weren't going to be able to come back until March at the earliest, I returned to my apartment to pick up the last of whatever bare essentials I needed to get me though the next couple of months.
On the way inside, seeing these dudes working like dogs, breathing in all sorts of fumes in the freezing cold, I thought I should do something nice for them. After all, it's a brotherhood, right? I gotta take care of my guys.
So I took a trip down to the supermarket and picked up about $100 worth of sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. I figured the least I could do was buy them lunch for a day. When I walked in, there was Jerry.
Perfect, I thought. I'd been trying to get on this guy's good side since I moved in.
Doorman - "Hey, Jerry. I'm Chris from apt 2110."
Jerry - "Yes, sir. How can I help you?"
I plopped the shopping bags on the desk gave him a toothless smile.
Doorman - "Nothing. Just wanted to bring this by."
Jerry looked at it as if I just plopped a liverwurst on the table.
Jerry - "What is it?"
Doorman - "Just some sandwiches and drinks and stuff."
He stared, waiting for an explanation.
Doorman - "Just make sure everyone gets fed. I wanted to... you know... show my appreciation. For all the hard work you guys are doing."
Jerry - "Thanks."
A long, awkward pause. I wasn't sure what I'd expected to come out of this. I didn't think he was going to triumphantly hold the bags over his head and announce to the building staff that Jesus had come and brought them some nourishment, but a fucking smile would have been decent.
Doorman - "Ok, well, have a great day."
Jerry - "You too, sir."
He had always been cold, so I didn't really think much of his lackluster reaction. It did bother me a bit, seeing that I didn't really have to do what I did. I think I was just annoyed that I didn't get to pass if off to one of the guys that I'm friendlier with, someone who would have thanked me... and actually remembered my name.
We moved back into the apartment that March. Still, to this day, he never acknowledges me when I greet him. I wasn't looking for a heroes welcome from him when I came back, but just a god-damned smile or a head-nod - something, anything, would suffice. Now I'm at the point where I rack my brain wondering what the hell I did to this guy.
Then I think about it some more, and realize that he's just a fucking jerk.
The second guy totally fooled me. "Carl" and I are usually on the same work schedule, so I obviously don't see him much. One day, around Christmas time, I thought I had left my stove on, so I called the front desk and he picked up. He was super cool, told me he'd check and call me back immediately. Sure enough, less than five minutes later, he called to inform me that everything was A-OK. Being that I've been conditioned to take care of people who take care of me, I caught him leaving as I was returning home, and slipped him a five.
I could see his pupils morph into dollar signs.
After that, I seemed to see Carl every time I passed though the lobby. He would greet me every time, call me by my name, ask me what I thought the Mets were going to do in the off-season. It was like having a brand-new friend to shoot the shit with.
As the holidays approached, my roommates and I prepared to give our yearly "holiday envelope" to the building staff. We gave our usual amount, and the three of us signed the card and dropped it in the box next to the front desk. Apart from that, I like to give some one the other guys, who I consider "my guys", the ones who call me by my first name, who smile and say hello every morning, who make an effort to get to know me and make me fell welcome, and give them a little something extra. A little slip of the hand and a personal "thank you" from me. (I don't know if this is a practice that anyone else uses, but it works for me. This is only my second Christmas living in a building like this.)
Carl, over the past few weeks, had earned his keep on the list of "my guys".
As I slipped him the cash, his eyes lit up once again.
Carl - "Thanks, bro! I like your style!"
It's now March. He hasn't so much as said "Good Morning" to me since. He's gone back to being the indifferent guy who rarely, if ever, shows a bit of warmth or hospitality.
Now, I understand and respect his game. He saw a mark and executed. I'm all for throwing a few extra bones his way if there's a little bit of gratitude to show for it. Here's the problem I have with this: I plan on living here past next year, and he probably thinks I won't recognize his shtick. It's one thing to get your tip from a guest in a hotel, then move onto the next one. It's another to hustle a bigger tip out of a resident, then turn your back on him once they're tearing down the Christmas decorations.
So guess what happens? When he perks up for the holidays this year, I look the other way.
Point is, you never want to offend a good tipper. Someone who is generous with you in the beginning is someone who enjoys tipping, like myself. Seriously, there are some people out there who actually enjoy making people's day. It's a no-brainer and a win-win. You get paid, they get excellent service and feel like they've done a good deed. Always remember and worship someone who takes care of you right off the bat. Otherwise, you're just shooting yourself in the foot.
Ever go to a restaurant or a bar, leave a server a great tip, and they don't acknowledge that you've done so? Feels like a waste, right? Same rules apply here.