Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Doorman Breaks Down a Bad NYC Bellman Shift - Act II

5:35pm: The elevator door opens, and I'm released into the lobby like an angry bull. Carelessly throw the carts against the wall and position myself behind the bell desk, as welcoming as a rabid wolverine. 

5:38pm: The bells rings. Front. A tall, older gentleman, who strongly resembles Lou Avery from this season's Mad Men- oh, is that too obscure a reference? Fine. Herman Munster. He looks like Herman Munster. 

I approach Herman Munster, who only has a duffle bag. The Front Desk Agent hands me his keys. 

Front Desk Agent - "Okay, you're all set, sir. The bellman has your keys and will show you up to the room."

Herman Muster looks at me as if I were a homeless man masturbating in front of his family. 

Doorman - "Hi, sir. How are you today? Can I take that for you?"

I reach for his duffle bag. He snatches the keys out of my hand and picks up the duffle bag.

Herman Munster - "NO!"

He runs away from me with the fluidity of the Tin Man... towards the wrong elevator. I don't stop him. He'll be back in ten minutes, and I'm going to love every second of it. (For more on this little game I play, CLICK HERE.)

I do everything in my power over the next 5-10 minutes to be in the lobby when he comes down. 

5:45pm: A Chinese man hands me a luggage ticket. Bags down from storage. FUCK. 

I sprint up the stairs, towards the storage room. On the way, I nearly run over a maid who weighs 90lb. I scream a half-hearted "sorry" as I keep trucking. Grab the two large suitcases, run towards the elevator, and there's two bellmen with carts waiting to go down. Fuck this. 

5:48pm: I'm crashing down the staircase with the two pieces of luggage. It's not wide enough to fit everything, so I try to keep one in front of me while carrying the other over my back. I feel a crushing feeling in my neck, and am left with the snap decision of either leaving work early in a stretcher or dropping one of the suitcases down the stairs.

What do you think I did? 

5:50pm: I arrive in the lobby, basing my decision to tell the Chinese man about my dropping his luggage down a flight of steps on whether or not he gives me a tip. He doesn't, so I don't. Fuck him. 

After giving a curt, "no, thank you" to the oblivious Chinese man, I see Herman Munster emerge rom the elevator. 

Oh, sweet baby Jesus. 

He stomps like Godzilla to the front desk. The line is too long. His keys are in hand, his face as red as his kool-aid sweater. He locks eyes with me. I prepare for a showdown. 

Herman Munster - "WHERE'S ROOM 618?!?" 

I dough up my almondy eyes and put on the warmest smile I possibly could. 

Doorman - "I'm sorry, did a bellman not offer to show you up to the room?" 

I'd prepared for a longer exchange, but his eyes just burned right through me. Then, through clenched teeth:

Herman Munster - "SON OF A BITCH!!!" 

He galloped towards the correct elevator, and I never saw him again. A part of me wanted a prolonged confrontation, but I'll settle for the small victory. 

One would think the good mojo would carry over into the next exchange. One would be sadly mistaken. 

6:04pm: Front. Cute, petite blonde woman, about my age. She's from Columbus, Ohio. The second I take her suitcase to do the front, I see her go into her wallet and pull out money. 

Beautiful, now there's no suspense. I can relax and make her feel comfortable with handing it over. Some guys, when they see that the guest already has the money out, will mail in the rest of the front, like taking a knee at the end a football game. I don't like doing that. If the guest is assuring me that they're good people, I'm going to reciprocate. 

We chatted a bit about what she does for a living. Social media and market branding and digital marketing and digital media and digital advertising and programing and branding and blah blah blah all your fucking jobs sound the same to me. She asked about bars downtown. I used to live on the Lower East Side, so I gave her a few options that were off the beaten path. She giggled at my little puns and anecdotes, and for a brief few moments, I thought we were flirting. Maybe with my tip would come with an invite to the bar? 

We get to the room. She thanks me, then hands over the bill in her hand. I don't look at it, because it's the gentlemanly thing to do, wish her a great stay, and leave. No invite to the Lower East Side. 

Take a few steps down the hall, look at my hand, and squeeze it in my clammy fist. 


6:18pm: Bags down from storage. Indian man. 2 suitcases. No tip. 

6:45pm: The doorman on duty asks to take a cigarette break. I run to the door with glee to escape this inferno. 

6:47pm: Hail two taxis for eight Argentinian people. No tip, no thank you. 

6:53pm: A Supershuttle arrives. I greet and unload four people from Finland, four suitcases into the lobby. No tip, no thank you. 

My bad inside mojo is affecting my outside mojo. 

6:57pm: The doorman on duty returns from his cigarette break. I walk inside, and the front desk girl rings the bell for a front. It's the people from Finland who stiffed me four minutes before that. Fuck them. I opt to take a leak. 

7:09pm: Standing at the bell desk, and another bellman comes downstairs from a front. We have a log book, which records every time a bellman goes up to a room. We have to write down the room number, reason for going there, and the time. We also record how much they gave us, in a secret code (mostly just stars, checks and abbreviations. I'll let you figure out what "F.C." stands for next to someone who was rude and didn't tip.) 

The bellman took up the people from Finland and drew two stars. One star = $5. I missed a $10 front. I can't begin to tell you how often that happens to me while working the door - when I break my ass bringing the luggage inside and get completely ignored, then the fucking bellman does nothing but wheel it into the room, scoring the big tip. 

7:17pm: Front. Three Japanese girls. I love Japanese girls. Five suitcases. I hate suitcases. Send them up to the room, load a cart, bring it up to the room. They smile and bow and thank me profusely. Adorable. $2. 

7:30pm: Bags down from storage. Young, American business guy. One suitcase. No tip. 

Suit - "I appreciate it."

Doorman - "I'll be sure to take that 'appreciate it' home with me, throw it in the microwave, and eat it for dinner!"

Only one of those lines really happened. 

7:40pm: Deliver dry cleaning up to the room for a middle-aged woman from Oregon. $2. 

7:50pm: I ask the Front Desk Agent how many arrivals we have left - 22. That's a maximum of 22 fronts divided between three bellmen for the rest of my shift. The storage rooms are empty. The second half of my shift looks to be pretty grim. 

8:00pm: Cover doorman on duty on his lunch break. 

8:15pm: SuperShuttle pulls up. Older couple from England, two suitcases. Bring them up to the front, and I already know what I'm getting:

British Couple - "Cheers! Brilliant! Fank you!!!" 

8:19pm: American woman in a cocktail dress, an absolute smoke-show, asks for a taxi to the Standard Hotel.

I hail one. No tip. I understand, though. She gave me the pleasure of looking at her as she got in the car. That should be plenty for me, right? 

8:45pm: Taxi pulls up. I open the trunk. Three suitcases. Look at the luggage tags - Australia. 


A couple gets out of the taxi. They look cool, like a couple of pub-goers. Still, I make a half-hearted attempt to take the luggage out. The Australian Man intervenes, politely:

Australian Man - "Ah, you're alright, mate. I've got it!" 

Not gonna argue with that! 

9:00pm: Doorman on duty arrives back from his break. 

9:05pm: At the deli, ordering a quinoa bowl because I'm "trying to eat better." 

9:06pm: I ask for extra thai chill sauce and chicken in my quinoa bowl. 

9:07pm: I ask for soy sauce on the side. 

9:08pm: Since I'm going the healthy route, I get a ginger ale to go with my meal. It's only 100 more calories, might as well treat myself. 

9:15pm: I dump the entire small container of soy sauce onto my quinoa bowl. That's not enough, so I grab a couple more packets from the cabinet in the break room. 

9:23pm: Shovel the last of the quinoa into my stupid, greedy face. Wash it down with the ginger ale. I feel slimmer already. 

9:24-10:00pm: Troll OkCupid and Tinder. I get one bite, then fuck it up royally: 

She didn't respond back.

Still single, ladies. 

10:05pm: Still kind of hungry because quinoa couldn't nourish an infant, I grab a Snickers bar from the gift shop. It's only 250 calories. I figured I had a few to spare after having quinoa for dinner. 

10:20pm: Front. Older couple from Mexico. Two suitcases. The man looks like a fatter version of Barrack Obama. They're very nice, we chat a bit, and they ask me about a diners in the area that are open late. $5. 

That's my first tip in over two and a half hours. It would be my last for the evening. 

10:45pm: Front. British family - two rooms, four suitcases. The rooms are in different towers. They allow the Front Desk Agent to give me the front, then immediately tell me they don't have any cash and would "sort it out with me later". It's almost a week now, and they're still at the hotel. Have they followed up with their promise since? 

You've been reading my blog for a long time, what do you think? 

11:03pm: This is where shit gets weird.

An older American gentleman, red-faced and clearly fresh from bending his elbows all evening, walks up to me with a set of car keys. 

American Man - "I found these in front of Madison Square Garden." 

Doorman - "Okay…"

American Man - "It's a Chrysler car, with house keys." 

He hands them to me, like I'm a locksmith. 

Doorman - "Okay…"

American Man - "I think there's a serial number on there." 

Doorman - "Okay…" 

I hand him back the keys. He reluctantly takes them. For the rest of the exchange, he keeps trying to hand them back to me. 

American Man - "If you bring them to the manufacturer, they can probably trace the keys back to the vehicle." 

Doorman - "Okay…" 

American Man - "So, you know. You might be able to get the keys back to the owner." 

Doorman - "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure we can do anything about that." 

He stares at me for a solid ten seconds, then places the keys onto the bell desk.

America Man - "Well… you just got yourself a pair of keys!" 

And then he walks away. 

Immediately, before he could get more than three steps away from me, I pick up the keys and throw them as hard as I can into the metal garbage can. The velocity of the throw caused the keys to rattle and clank all the way down, echoing throughout the lobby. 

I threw it as hard as I could because I wanted him to hear how little I gave a fuck about his quest to do a good deed by passing it off to me to do the work. Think for a second how arrogant this fucking guy is - he wants to go to bed thinking he's done the right thing, but can't be bothered to do the work, so he passes the buck to the servant, whom he thinks will go to the fucking Chrysler manufacturer to reunite the precious keys with the owner, who was likely blind drunk after an event at the Garden and would have been better-served not driving their vehicle anyway. 

As soon as the keys smashed against the can, he stopped for a second, thought about turning back, then slumped to the elevator. 

11:30pm: An Arab man, dressed sharply, walks into the hotel with documents in hand. I'm alone at the bell desk. 

Arab - "I need you to make a copy for me."

No "hello", no "how are you?", no "excuse me". He gets right to business. His accent is thick and his tone is as subtle as a sandpaper toothbrush. 

Arab - "I also need you to send a fax for me." 

We don't have a fax machine in the business center. That's something you need a manager to do from the office. It sounds silly, but it's a tourist hotel. There's no need for a fax machine to be in the business center. 

Still, his attitude sucks. I inquire further: 

Doorman - "What do you need to have copied?" 

Arab Man - "They booted my car. I need to send over my information." 

Doorman - "Where's your car? Is it in the loading zone?" 

He looks at me like a career criminal being interrogated by a bumbling rookie cop.

Arab Man - "No. It's down the street. I need you to make a copy and fax this for me." 

Doorman - "Are you a guest in the hotel?"

Again, he looks at me like I'm being a nudge, when he's the one who needs assistance. 

Arab Man - "No." 

Doorman - "Then... no."

He immediately throws his arm in the air, ruffling the documents within a couple of inches from my face. 

Arab - "Fuck you, fucking asshole!" 

After all the bullshit I'd been through all night, I just wanted to jump over the desk and fight him. It's not that I cared to beat him in fisticuffs or prove my manliness. No, I just wanted to throw a few punches and get my aggression out. If he beat me up, fine. Whatever. 

I guess that's where I've matured as a man since taking this job. Because that primal instinct to fight passed through me in the blink of an eye, and I was able to calmly assess the situation and react like a gentleman. 

Doorman - "Okay, have a good night, sir!" 

Arab Man - "Fuck you, mother fucker! It's a piece of shit hotel, anyway!" 

After a beat, I couldn't resist the urge to get the last word in: 

Doorman - "You still have a boot on your car, dummy!" 

I never said I've completely matured as a man. 

He gets to the door, then turns to me:

Arab Man - "Come outside and say that to me. I'll shove the boot up your ass!" 

Intriguing as it was, I declined his offer. 

The funny thing about this, is I very-well would have helped him if he'd just been polite. Seriously, the moral of this story is to just be kind to people. He was in need of help, and I had nothing going on. But his arrogance immediately turned me off, and I didn't want to help him. 

All he had to do was say, "Hello, sir. I'm in a bind and need your help. Do you have a fax machine I could use? My car was just booted."

I could look past the fact that he probably deserved it. That he likely parked his car wherever the fuck he wanted over time, accumulated a shitload of parking tickets, and didn't pay them because he though the world owed him something. Now he's humbled, stuck, and in need of a little human decency. I would have been the right guy to talk to, but he chose to talk to me as if I were indentured to him. And look what happened? He left, angrier than he was when he walked in, worse off than he was before. All because he couldn't muster up a few pleasantries. 

11:50pm: Exhausted, I hide in the storage closet for the last ten minutes of my shift. 

11:59pm: I make my way from the storage closet to the front office, where the time clock is located. I try not to make eye-contact with any guests on the way over. 

Just before I get to the door, leading me to the promised-land of punching out and starting my weekend, I see a familiar face - the Brazilian Man with the ugly sweater. 

He jolts and digs into his pockets right way. 

Brazilian Man - "Ehhhh… sorry. Ehhhh… I have money."

He riffs though his pockets and scrounges up a few singles.

Brazilian Man - "Ehhhh… thank you!"

He hands them to me. I give him a press-lipped smile and say thank you. I count up what he gave me, which for the work I did was subpar, but am grateful for it in what had been one of the worst nights I've had this year. $4. 

12:00am: I punch out. 

Total in tips and commissions for the evening: $34

Shift pay, after taxes: $80. 

Total earnings: $114. 

As bad as this was, that's more than I ever made in one day in my four years working as a special education teacher. I don't write about this much, but I worked in the severe autism spectrum prior to taking this job. Even on my worst days here, humping bags and acting like a spoiled wise-ass, I consistently earn more than double than I did making an impact and doing challenging, rewarding work and having an influence on young people.

Kinda fucked up, huh? 

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