Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Doorman and the Ignorant American-Aussie

I fucked up a couple of weeks ago. I should have done more to defend my friend, and I didn't. It's been eating at me ever since. I'll explain: 

This friend, whom I've known for as long as I've been working here, works at a nearby store. I see her almost every day, as it's a part of my routine. She's supportive of my work and what I'm trying to accomplish. She attended a screening of the Doorman pilot at the New York Television Festival last year. I won't go into to detail about her physical appearance, because that isn't fair. What I can say, is she's person a beautiful human being, inside and out. She also, by her own accord, stands out in a crowd.

To backtrack a bit - the day before, a loud, obnoxious guest, "Fred", with a seemingly not-foreign accent exits a taxi with his family. They have loads and load of heavy suitcases, and as I begin to unload them, he greets me:

Fred - "Ah! This is the guy who's going to help us!" 

I smile, because he sounds American and has several slices of currency in his hand. The sight of money has become an endorphin rush for me. Three years into this hustle, money is all I see.  I've said it in my more recent posts - my objective (as it should have been from the beginning), is to get in, make as much money as I can, however I can, and get the fuck out. 

I load up the five suitcases onto a cart, then keep it moving to the front desk while he loudly talks to his family about how great it is to be home. His wife and children speak with thick, Australian accents. 

I take the cart to the front desk and wish them a nice stay. He hands me two dollars. A little light for five heavy suitcases, but I rarely, if ever get tipped brining people in. I also had only made 20 bucks up until that point in the day, so I had to be grateful for it. 

Doorman - "Thank you, thank you! Thank you so much! If you need anything, I'll be right outside the door! THANK YOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!" 

All this dancing for two dollars. 

Apparently, his backstory was that he grew up on Long Island and moved to Australian for work when he was in his twenties. There, he met his wife and they built a family. This was his first time back. Sounds like the beginnings of a nice little story, huh? 

No. 

He sent his family to Times Square to do some sightseeing, then proceeded to pester and chew the ears off every single member of the front office staff. I tend to avoid people like that, because I'm the only asshole in the building who can't leave their post for any reason. The front desk agents, the bellmen, security - they can simply walk away and pretend they have business elsewhere. Me? I have to stand in that very spot. I get written up if I abandon my post. I'm stuck there. So, if some gum-flapper wants to tell me his life story whilst smoking a half-a-pack of cigarettes in my face, I have to take it. 

By night two, I'd managed to avoid him at all costs. Whenever he'd enter the lobby, asking all the staff where he could "get into trouble" while his wife and kids were getting ripped off by panhandlers in Times Square, all of the staff would scatter like roaches. 

That left me, talking to my friend, who was on her way home from work after closing up shop. She asked me about how the new episodes are coming along, and I asked her about the artistic endeavors she's working on. It's always nice when the artists/survival-jobists in the neighborhood find and inspire each other. That's one thing tourists don't realize when they come to New York - they think the artists are playing guitar somewhere in Washington Square Park, or rehearsing a Broadway play, or on some huge film production. Nope, a large bulk of the artists in the city are serving you your cheeseburger at TGI Fridays, or carrying your bags into a hotel, or dealing with your belligerent ass at 3:30am when all they could think of is getting a few hours of shut-eye for an audition at 9am. 

My friend's phone rings, and she walks away to take it. Of course, like clockwork, Fred comes strolling outside, because he's worn out the welcome of everyone else in the lobby. Luckily for me, most people assume that, since I'm a doorman, I'm only capable of talking about sports and directions to the nearest tourist attraction. This leaves less time talking to idiots, and more time thinking about how I'm going to get the fuck out of this place. 

He walks outside. I try to look elsewhere, not trying to engage him in any conversation. 

Fred - "How's it going, buddy?" 

He gave me two dollars and I promised him the world. I seriously regret this now. 

Fred - "So, where could I get into trouble around here? My wife and kids are in Times Square!" 

He dryly cackles and nudges my arm. 

Doorman - "I mean, I don't know. Do you want to go to a bar or something?"

Fred - "Sure! A bar, or maybe a strip- HOLY SHIT!" 

This jolts me. I finally look at him, and he's staring at my friend, who's pacing around the sidewalk, enthusiastically talking on the phone with a smile on her face.

Oh, no…

He leans into my ear and whispers:

Fred - "Is that… an 'it'…"

He called her "an it". I feel the back of my neck get hot. I bite back at him.

Doorman - "She's actually a friend of mine." 

That should have been the end of story. Any decent human being would say, "oh, shit. I'm sorry"  and stopped talking. 

Fred did not. And for whatever reason, the thought of him handing me those two, crumbled up singles upon his arrival flashed in my brain. In that moment, I felt obligated to not rip him a new asshole.

Fred - "Oh? Well, you know. I'm not trying to be mean." 

What I should have said - "Yes, you are. Stop talking to me."

What I actually said - "Uh huh." 

Fred - "You know, because I live in Australia, and we're just starting to get 'them' there." 

What I should have said - "I don't want to have this conversation with you. Stop referring to 'them' like they're electronic products. Please get away from me." 

What I actually said - "Oh yeah?" 

He looks at her like she's a zoo animal and folds his hands behind his back.

Fred - "Now, I'm not trying to be mean, but she could go either way." 

What I should have said - "I just told you, she's a friend of mine. Shut the fuck up and get away from me." 

What I actually said - Nothing. I said nothing.

Fred - "And Australia is right near Thailand, and there all sorts of shit coming down from up there." 

What I should have said - "If you say one more fucking word to me, I'm going to slap the taste out of your mouth. What? Because I wear this little hat and carry bags for people, I'm as ignorant and tactless as you are? You don't know a god damn thing about her. Who the fuck are you to judge her from a distance like this, staring at her and making wildly stupid observations? You're a father. What if, when your daughter grows up, some ignorant cunt tries to initiate a conversation about her in this manner? How would you feel about that, you fucking lowlife garbage?" 

What I actually did - I walked away. 

Now, in the scope of my job and all things considered, I did the right thing. If I curse him out, and he gets defensive and it escalates, I could lose my job. I walked away from him mid-sentence, not giving him the satisfaction of engaging in his ignorance. He wanted a reaction, and didn't get one. For that, I'm slightly proud. 

But I've screamed at people for much less. I've punched taxis because the driver didn't want to drive all the way to the airport at the end of his 16-hour shift. I've called people all sorts of horrific things, defending guests and civilians, people who don't give a shit about me. I hesitated to defend my friend's honor, all because this schmuck tipped me two measly bucks on the way in. For that, I'm ashamed.


Would she have wanted me to get into an altercation for her? To play the dramatic hero, something that I admittedly and shamelessly tend to do? I highly doubt it. But I had so much more to say to that cock sucker. In retrospect, I can't help but think I could have taught him a lesson. I know it's unlikely. I'm going to teach him manners to a guy that age. It's one thing I've learned over the years. You can't teach people manners. But a piece of my mind is a dish I love to serve, and I failed to this time. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Doorman vs Smoker

I had my first cigarette at the ripe age of thirteen. My parents had drilled into my head the dangers of getting addicted to smoking. When I was a kid, I watched my Dad go through hell to quit for our benefit. I'd held out as long as I could amongst the group of delinquents I ran with at that age, explaining my family's history of addiction and my not wanted to get hooked. They were less than understanding. My polite declines of drags of Newport 100's were usually greeted something along the lines of "then go home, you fat faggot", or "who the fuck invited you, anyway?"

In one of my more feeble attempts to fit in, I finally caved an took a drag of my buddy Carl's Parliament Light in the woods of the baseball field we hung out in. I awkwardly held it in my hand and stared at the flickering cherry, contemplating whether this were a road I wanted to go down. This led to a chorus of "just fucking do it already, you fat faggot" and "who the fuck invited this herb?" from the rest of the pack. Hoping that taking a drag of that Parliament Light would alleviate the harsh criticisms of being a sensitive, androgynous chubby kid with big, round glasses who never stuck up for himself, I caved.  

The harsh words never stopped. In fact, they would get much, much worse. But I did make a new friend that evening - Parliament Lights. For the next twelve years, not a day went by where I didn't have a pack of smokes in my pocket. As I got older and began to drink more, it became two. I smoked like a fiend, though I knew deep-down that I wasn't a smoker. I never felt like one. 

My smoking schedule was fairly rigid - once every hour when I wasn't at work, then, when I was at work - once in the morning, one in the late-morning, two on my lunch break, one mid-afternoon, and one immediately after work. When I drank, it was one after every two drinks when I'm inside a bar, and one after every drink when drinking outdoors. The more I drank, the gap between my next cigarette would shrink, and I would eventually abandon any limit I put on myself. On any given night of drinking, I would smoke anywhere between a pack and a half to two packs.  

Fortunately, a couple of months after I turned twenty-five, I broke one of my front teeth at a concert. It wasn't a cool injury, like a fight or a mosh-pit accident. No, I broke it eating a chicken sandwich. Only me. To be fair to the chicken sandwich - it was fresh and delicious. I had my two front teeth bonded (glued together) after one of my gruesome fat kid injuries (another hilarious story for another time). It was bound to fall out eventually, and carelessly sinking my teeth into this delicious chicken cutlet hero with lettuce, tomato, roasted peppers, and Thousand Island dressing was the kicker. 

I was broke to start, but having to spend $800 to have a crown put in had me in a compromising position - either eat and pay my rent, or smoke. I opted to continue nourishing myself and keep a roof over my head. My job at the time offered free patches to help employees quit. I'd ordered them in the mail a few months back, then let them sit on my dresser and collect dust while I continued to make excuses for not quitting:

Well, it's summer. Can't quit in the summer. Too much outdoor drinking. 

I have a huge audition next week. Can be all distracted with cigarette cravings while I prepare!

It's the holidays. Lots of Christmas party drinking. Can't quit now!


I'll quit on New Years. 

I'll quit on my birthday. 

I'll quit when the price of a pack gets into double digits.

I'll quit once the deli stops selling buy one, get one packs. 

I'll quit when my one of my buddies quit, so I'll have a support partner. 

I'll quit when I cut down on drinking. 

Finally, on September 28th, 2009, I sat on my porch with my buddy Mike, smoking a Parliament Light. When it got down to the end, I stared at the cherry, flickering and shooting ashes like a rapper making it rain at a concert. I turned to Mike: 

Doorman - "This is the last cigarette I'll ever smoke." 

Mike - "My ass. My ass that's your last cigarette." 

It was. I put on my first patch, and quit smoking for good that night. Next week will be five years since I quit smoking. I wish, I really wish I could say it was the last cigarette I ever smoked. I really do. But I'd be lying. A few months ago, I was at a masquerade party on the Lower East Side for my roommate's birthday. It was open bar, and since I was wearing a suit and mask that I'd picked up at a local Halloween store with an off-season discount, I decided to keep it classy - and drink about 13 dirty martinis. 

I'm not exactly sure what goes into a dirty martini. I don't fully understand why it's "dirty." What I do understand... well, I don't understand much of anything that night. Because I don't remember. The one, hazy memory I have of anything after 9pm that evening is standing in front of my building, smoking a cigarette. I don't know why or how this happened, but it did. I wouldn't believe it otherwise, but my friend presented me with the evidence: 

Asshole. 

Look at that red-eyed, disheveled mess. Anyway, even though I got about halfway through the cigarette and had to chuck it, hating every drag I took, I spent the next couple of weeks jonesing for a smoke. Every time I drank, especially. I felt the nicotine coercing though my blood, fighting and biting under my skin like a swarm of ticks, screaming for me to pick up a pack of Parliament Lights and start all over again. The punch in the back of my throat, the fill of my lungs, the oral fixation, the prolonged exhale after the first drag following a big meal - I couldn't stop thinking about it. All it took was a half a cigarette - one that I barely, if at all, remember having - and my body had to go through the withdrawals of quitting that I experienced the first time around. 

So, believe me, smokers, I get it. I really do. I understand what it's like to be a smoker, to not have anyone tread on you while you're trying to enjoy your cigarette. I know what it's like to be somewhere you can't smoke, and that awful panic that sets in when you know it's going to be awhile. I understand the willingness to risk a hefty fine to smoke in a place where you're not supposed to, and the polluted thoughts that race through your head to justify such an action. 

Which is why I try to have patience with smokers at work. 

It's part of my doorman duties to prevent smokers from lighting up in front of the building. We have a designated smoking area on the side entrance, which closes at 8pm every night. Still, even when the smoking area is locked, I'm supposed to tell people that they have to move down the block and around the corner to enjoy their cigarette. Even in a thunderstorm or sub-zero temperature, it's my job to tell people that they can't smoke in front of the main entrance. Sounds like a job for security, right? Telling people where they can and can't be on the property? No. Apparently, it's the doorman's job. 

We have two signs in front of the exit, none of which feature the universal "no-smoking" symbol, which is a burning cigarette in the middle of a circle with a line through it. Instead, they both simply say "this is a non-smoking area". For a hotel that caters to foreign tourists who don't tip or speak english, it would be logical to have that sign as an indicator that they can't be smoking there. I've said this repeatedly to the higher-ups, to which I'm usually told that I'm not holding the door open and greeting people properly. 

While I understand the plight of the smoker, I'm also a tipped employee, making me a "yes" man. So, what I usually do, is figure out which way the wind is blowing. Whatever direction blows towards the door, I make sure no one is smoking there. That keeps people from blowing smoke in my face (which they do, often), and blowing smoke in the faces of people coming inside. And instead of having them move down the block, or all the way around the corner to the other, "smoking" entrance, I simply ask them to move to the other side of the sidewalk, towards the street. 

99 out of 100 people are understanding. Some will give me an attitude. Some will scoff and take one step to the side, as if those three and a half inches will somehow make a difference as they obsessively thumb through Facebook and Instagram. It rarely, if ever, escalates. Here's one of those times: 

A black van pulls up, and a Brazilian-American man hops out. A lot of these Brazilian-Americans have illegal side-business where they shuttle tourists back and forth from the shopping outlets. These guys are mostly pretty cool with the doormen, because their unlicensed operation is something that could have massive consequences if caught by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. In return for us keeping our mouths shut, they will tell their people to make sure they tip the doormen and bellmen who help them with their hoards of luggage or shopping bags.  

He removed several suitcases and shopping bags for a middle-aged Brazilian woman. I begin helping accordingly, to which I'm stopped:

Brazilian Woman - "Ah! AH! I SMOKE FIRST? Then..."

Her voice sounded like she was speaking through the bottom of a sandbox.

She gestures towards the door. Fine. 

Doorman - "Okay, I'll bring the bags to the front, where you check in." 

I turn with the bags. She grabs my arm.

Brazilian Woman - "AH! NO! I. AM. ROOM."

She has a room. 

Doorman - "Okay, you want me to bring the bags up?" 

Brazilian Woman - "AH! NO! I TAKE!"

Fine by me. It was a lousy night, and I had no interested in over-exerting myself for nothing. 

She grabs her shopping bags and suitcases, then dumps them right in the foyer, blocking my phone and collapsable wheelchair ramp for handicapped guests. I don't have much to take pride in, but my doorman phone and wheelchair ramp is about as close as I'll ever have to an office. I don't like clutter in my office. 

She takes one on step outside the door and lights up her cigarette. I usually give people a few moments to light up, then see if they have the common decency to move away from the entrance.

She doesn't, of course. She puffs away, blowing smoke in the faces of guests trying to enter. She doesn't give a fuck.

I step outside and intervene.

Doorman - "Excuse me, ma'am. You can't smoke in front of the door."

She looks at me as if I'd just asked her to engulf herself in flames for my amusement.

Brazilian Woman - "WHY?!?"

I point to the "this is a non-smoking area sign", which, again, does not feature the universal "no-smoking" symbol.

Doorman - "This is a non-smoking area."

She looks at the sign, then, like the belligerent hag I expected her to be, takes one small step to the left and continues puffing away. As if the three inches she too to step away were to change anything. I could see her body tense up. She wanted to hear nothing more from me. I persisted.

Doorman - "No, ma'am. Away from the door."

I point to the other side of the side walk, towards the street.

Doorman - "Over there."

She glances at where I'm pointing, then back at me with a look of disgust that even the muggiest of amateur actors couldn't muster. And, like a 4-year-old, she stomps her feet.

Brazilian Woman - "NO! I SMOKE! RIGHT HERE!"

Fuck this. Seriously, it's 75 degrees out, not raining, and all I'm asking of this fucker is to walk ten feet. I already agreed to help her with her bags, so what's the problem?!?

Doorman - "MA'AM! I'm not asking you for a lot! PLEASE, move to the other side of the curb!"

She flails her arms and gestures towards the sky repeatedly. Up and down and up and down, almost like a rain dance. I don't know what this means. I let it go on for a second or two longer than it should, out of sheer amusement.

Doorman - "What the hell are you doing?"

Brazilian Woman - "I... OUTSIDE!"

Doorman - "I... aware!"

This is why I'm reluctant to have children. Because I know I'll be signing up for 18 years of interactions like this one.

Brazilian Woman - "IN BRAZIL. WE SMOKE. INSIDE!"

Now, I don't get too many opportunities to scream what I'm about to scream with conviction. No one really does. Though I can tell you, it's a wondrous treat. As a proud patriot of my free country, I boastfully took the next sentence from the deepest bowels of my diaphragm:  

Doorman - "WELL, THIS IS AMERICA!!!"

My heightened tone throws her off guard.

Doorman - "Now, you can play nice and go to the other side of the curb, or I can get security to throw you out of the hotel. What's it gonna be?!?"

Her shoulders slump, her back curves, and she quickly stomps over to the other side of the curb with a long, exaggerated scoff, like a teenager being sent to her room. She continues her phlegm-gargling on the other side of the curb, cursing me in Portuguese as she wolfs down the remainder of her cancer stick.

At the end of her infantirade (that's infantile + tirade, a word I just made up. See what a fucking innovator I am?), she stomps out her cigarette and sourly makes her way back to the door. I open it accordingly. She begins to collect her things. In a feeble attempt to carry everything in one shot, she drops a few bags containing shoeboxes.

So, what did I do? Did I want to just watch her struggle, internally laughing like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas?

No.

I helped her. I took all of the stuff, loaded a bell cart, and brought it all up to her room. She refused to part ways with her possessions, eyeballing me the whole way. I could tell she thought that if she left me alone in the elevator, I would steal or intentionally damage something.

We get to her room, a king-sized suite that she seemingly had all to herself. I unload everything off the cart. She kicks her shoes off and watches me bring in every single piece, scanning the bags to make sure I hadn't ninja-lifted something in the elevator while she wasn't looking. Once the last shopping bag is inside, she slams the door without thanking or tipping me.

I didn't see her after that. And while I knew that helping her up to the room would prove to be a fruitless activity, it felt better to be the bigger person and help her out. Too bad she wasn't big enough to reciprocate.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tucker: The Cabbie Destroyer

As checkered a history as I have with taxi drivers, I still consider them to be amongst the hardest-working people out there. Not to sound like a broken record, because I know I've written this sentence more than once, but if you think my stories are bad, spend a day walking (or sitting) in the shoes of a New York City cabbie. 

There are people like me, who are pitted against them and are subject to multiple altercations per day, simply because that's just the nature of the beast. Then there are the civilians, some of which are anal about which route they take in fear of them running up the meter, or "taking them for a ride", as New Yorkers call it. 

I happen to be one of those people. 

Whenever I get in a cab, I ask for a specific route. I know my way around the city, and I know what tricks they use to run up a couple of bucks on the meter. I also usually mention that I'm a doorman in a hotel. This is my way of making small-talk and being friendly, but the translation is really "hey, I'm the last person you want to fuck with." 

But I always tip well and am polite. Sometimes, and it's not as often as your would think, I get into it with them while I'm a passenger. It's usually when I'm drunk, and I get paranoid that they've taken liberties. This usually result in me drunkenly barking at them and reiterating that I'm a doorman in a hotel, like they're supposed to give a fuck.

I've regrettably gotten a little nasty with a few them - I can think of three or four times where I've gone overboard with my sultriness and borderline bullying. Though those little moments of admitted ugliness have been spread out over the course of a lifetime of living in New York. 

And then there's this guy: 

A few days ago- a guest, about my age, I'll call him "Tucker", waited at the bell desk to retrieve his luggage. I prayed that the bellmen who was unfortunate enough to get his ticket wasn't one of my buddies. Tucker, clad with a navy-blue, country-club sports jacket, light khakis, and an angry red face, impatiently stood by. He looked like one of the preppy villains from Animal House, ten years past his glory days with a body that couldn't outrun the booze and drugs that went along with it. He was a short, Napolean-like fucker - maybe 5'4 or 5'5.

I'd been observing him since yesterday. The two times that I saw him outside of holding the door open without so much as a brief glimmer of eye-contact, he was getting into it with a cabbie. And when I say getting into it, I mean getting into it. 

The first time, the cab pulled up, and I immediately saw his head violently bobbing up and down with his muffled, slurring screams served as the accompaniment. The cabbie, had both his hands up and was gently waving them back and forth as a peace gesture. I didn't intervene, because, honestly, I really don't care about anything anymore. Whereas a couple of years ago when I'd try to play the hero or mediator, now I have one thing and one thing only on my mind - money. I come to work to make as much money as possible, then I go home and write. Period. Walking over and trying to fix whatever problem these two assholes have with each other shows no promise to make any cabbage, so I stand at the door and enjoy the show. 

Tucker crumbles up some money and throws it through the plexiglass window opening that divides the cabbie from the passenger. This sets the cabbie off, and as Tucker climbs out of the vehicle, the he calls after him in a thick, Haitian accent:

Cabbie - "FUCK YOU! FUCKING ASSHOLE!!! 

I open the door for Tucker as he steamrolled through. He doesn't say thank you, obviously.

It was a pretty boring and uneventful day, so I just had to know what happened. I walk over to the cabbie, flustered and trying to find the money Tucker fired onto the floor of his front seat. 

Doorman - "What happened, buddy?" 

Cabbie - "He gets in and tells me the name of the hotel. There are 500 hotels in the city, so I don't know this one! He tells me I should know EVERY hotel in the city! How am I supposed to know?!?" 

Doorman - "So he started yelling at you?" 

Cabbie - "NO! At the corner, I stopped at yellow light. He tells me I could have made the light before it turns red. I tell him I don't want ticket! So he start screaming at me!" 

He finds the bill on the floor. He hold it up. It's a ten. 

Cabbie - "Mother fucker!"

Doorman - "What?" 

He points to the meter. The fare is $13.54. 

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to intervene, but it looked like Tucker really nail him. Plus Tucker hadn't said "thank you" to me for opening the door once, so fuck him. 

Cabbie - "No! He's drunk! I don't want no more trouble." 

And the cabbie leaves. 

Ninety minutes later, I'm aimlessly staring off into space, trying to figure out what song I want to sing for the next three hours. 

Another cab pulls up. This time, Tucker jumps right out, and power-walks down the street. After a few beats, the cabbie calls out after him:

Cabbie # 2 - "HEY! ASSHOLE!" 

Tucker keeps chugging without looking back. 

Once again, I just had to know what happened. 

Doorman - "What happened, buddy?" 

Cabbie # 2 - "$13 dollar fare! He gives me 10 dollars! He's DRUNK!!!" 

And, just like the guy before him, he slumps his shoulders, puts the car into gear, and drives off. He also didn't want to further pursue old Tucker. 

In the span of ninety minutes, he's stiffs two different drivers on nearly identical fares. This also means that he must have taken a taxi to that destination as well. Did he do the same thing to those guys? 

Jump back to present, where Tucker's waiting at the bell desk to retrieve his luggage:

A bellman who I'm close with comes down from a front, and takes the ticket. Damnit. Not that I think he's going to have an altercation with the guy, I just hate to see any of my friends get stiffed. 

After a few minutes, the bellman comes down with a lone carry-on. Tucker slips him a tip, with a smile. 

Really...?

Tucker emerges from the doors, again not bothering to say thank you. I let him get his own taxi, because fuck him. I don't want to be a part of his next round of cabbie slaying.

Taxi pulls up, and he tells the cabbie Penn Station. The cabbie gets out, puts his carry-on in the trunk, and gets back in the car. 

Tucker puts one hand on his waist, the other on top of the car. He stands there an waits, his eyes burning at the cabbie. 

He waits...

And waits...

Finally, after an eternity, the cabbie finally turns around and inquires: 

Cabbie # 3 - "You going to get in, or what?" 

Tucker squints his eyes, befuddled that the cabbie would ask such an egregious thing. 

Tucker - "Aren't you going to open the door for me?!?" 

The cabbie stares back, creaking his head to the side, mouth wide-open with his yellow, sleep-deprived eyes popping out of his head. 

Cabbie - "Man, either get in the fucking car, or don't. I don't have time for this shit." 

Tucker scoffs and rolls his eyes, then begrudgingly flings the door open for himself. He plops in. They drive away. 

My guess is this is how those interactions began. 

The bellman who helped him comes to me.

Bellman - "That guy take care of you?" 

I turn to him.

Doorman - "Who? Napoleon? No. He's a prick. I didn't even bother." 

Bellman - "Oh... You probably should have." 

He opens his hand to show me Andrew Jackson's green face sitting on his palm. 

Bellman - "He was cool. Gave me a twenty for bringing down a carry-on from storage." 

Interesting. So, Tucker, who spent his trip terrorizing cabbies and being rude to his doorman, apparently has a affinity for bellhops. 

There's really no moral to this story. So, I'll just end it there.

But Tucker's kind of a sick fuck, right?!? 




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Here's What Managers Shouldn't Do

DISCLAIMER: This post is not a reflection of my current employer. Please don't fire me.

My normal routine, every day before work, is to visit a TD bank to deposit the pathetic amount of cash earnings I made from the previous evening. Like clockwork, I get off the Q train and walk to the same location before I get my coffee. I enter the bank, grab the deposit slip, count the sad, wispy stack of singles and fives that I had to beg and plead and break my ass for, and make my way to the line to turn my hard-earned cash into slightly-larger numbers on my TD Bank iPhone app. The larger numbers help me buy cool things, like electricity and less credit card debt.

Every day, I greet Emily, my favorite teller. She's not the one I blew it with, no. Emily is happily married with three children. Two boys, one girl. The oldest boy just started high school this week. I know this because we speak nearly every day. She asks about the hotel,  how my blog is doing, how filming went, breaks my balls about turning thirty, yet never reveals her age to me. Not that I ever wanted to know. She makes it part of the conversation, trying to get me to guess how old she is, knowing that I'm too much of a gentleman to ask.

It's all in good fun. I've been going to Emily for years. We have a rapport, a joking manner. She's a calming, welcoming presence in an otherwise mundane part of my every-day routine. And when it's not Emily? It's George - the pudgy, androgynous man who got laid off from Time Warner two years ago. Or Eric - the guy who always seems to catch me on days where I make a huge deposit due to my not getting to the bank in some time, who sees the quick cash I make and not-so-subtly asks if we're hiring.

Point is, I go to that bank nearly five days a week, and the service is stellar. I like everyone there, which is why I keep coming back. I could throw a rock and pick another one of the five or six in the area to go to, but why tamper with what works?

Cut to this Tuesday morning, where I got tied up doing, well, whatever the fuck it is I do from the time I wake up till the time I leave for work. Trains and bullshit left me off at my stop later than usual, and I rushed into the bank to do my transaction and get the hell out of here.

Maybe it was the time of day where this happens, something I'm not privy to because I generally get there a few minutes earlier. But there was a manager in the lobby, greeting people. Now, I'm all for someone saying "hello" when you walk into any place. Hell, that's 90% of my job description (Though I'm lucky if I fulfill 5% of that, per day).

This manager, I'll call him "Bill", appeared to be taking his daily round of entering the lobby, puffing out his chest and pivoting in the center, making his presence known to his employees and customers, unzipping his trousers, and taking his dick out.

No, he didn't expose himself in the lobby. That last part was figurative. I'm a goofball.

Whatever Bill's intention was - whether he wanted to be helpful and present with the everyday customers, or simply to come in and keep his already-stellar employees in check, or maybe he just got chewed out by his boss, or wife, and wanted to come and do a little micro-managing - he completely ruined this small, enjoyable window in my day:

I walk in, and the first thing I hear is his bellowing, phony, how-may-I-help-you voice:

Bill - "WELCOME TO TD BANK!!! HOW MAY WE ASSIST YOU TODAY?!?"

Startled, I can barely muster the head nod I gave him. I'm a creature of habit, and my habit, every day, for the past 3 years, has been to walk straight to the deposit slips. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him swaying back and forth, doing an over-eager pee pee dance in anticipation of how he can assist me today. He's tall, red-faced and likely wearing a toupee. His beady eyes dart around behind his tarantula-colored glasses. It was like Barney the Dinosaur had witnessed a murder and took this job as part of a protection program.

I pull the earbuds out of my head and do my normal walk to the deposit slips. He walks over to me. My body tightens up and I grind my teeth.

Bill - "WHAT DID YOU NEED HELP WITH TODAY, SIR?!?!"

I grab the checking deposit slip and start writing, as if I were trying to get my house keys out of my pocket and a swarm of zombies were coming at me.

Doorman - "Just making a deposit."

Bill - "CHECKING OR SAVINGS?!?!"

I had a fucking checking deposit slip in my hand. They're color-coded. He sees this.

Doorman - "Just... checking."

I open my wallet and take out my sad, crumbled-up stack of fives and singles.

Bill - "WILL YOU BE DEPOSITING CASH OR A CHECK?!?!"

I show him my weathered assembly of pity currency from tourists.

Doorman - "Cash."

Bill - "EXCELLENT!!!"

He extends his arm and pans it to the right, like some ugly game show model, to present me a line of two people.

Bill - "JUST WAIT RIGHT THERE, SIR!!! SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU!!!"

Thank you, Bill. Had you not been there, I would have walked over to the Penny Arcade machine and tried to stuff all of my money in there. If that didn't work, I would have asked Penny why she didn't want to take my money. Then she would have asked me for coins, and I would have been like, "I don't have coins! All I have are these sad fives and ones. THERE ARE NO COINS!!!" Then I would have punched the Penny Arcade, likely smashing the screen. Then the on-site cop would have run over and arrested me, putting me in jail for the night, which would likely lead to me being beaten up by some of the Times Square CD Hustlers that I clash with while I'm in uniform. But I'm not in uniform in the joint, AM I?!? THANK YOU, BILL!!! YOU SAVED ME FROM GETTING BEAT UP BY TIMES SQUARE CD HUSTLERS IN THE JOINT!!

I take my spot on line, like I've done every time there's been a line in the thirty years of life that have led me to this moment.

Thirty seconds later:

The line hasn't moved. I haven't noticed because I'm hate-reading Facebook statuses. I stay friends with a lot of people whom I barely know or haven't spoken to in years, solely for the purpose of reading their idiotic Facebook posts. It's not a healthy task, but fuck you if you can't admit that you do the same thing.

Bill - "SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU, SIR."

Yes, Bill. I understand how the line works. You wait till there's an available teller. Some people have more transactions than others, which will sometimes slow down the line.

Thirty seconds later:

Bill - "THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. IT WILL BE JUST A FEW MORE MOMENTS!!!"

A teller finishes with her customer. Immediately after, another teller finishes with hers. I'm next.

Bill - "JUST A FEW MORE MOMENTS AND SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU, SIR!!!"

Right, Bill. I figured that out when there were no more people huffing and puffing in front of me.

Thirty seconds later:

Emily, my favorite teller, finishes with her customer and waves me over.

Bill - "THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE, SIR!!! EMILY HERE WILL ASSIST YOU!!!"

Emily and I share an immediate glance. I widen my eyes and make a gesture towards Bill. She shuts her eyes and nods, "yah, I know".

She's shorter with me than usual. More robotic. I can tell she's putting on a show for her manager. Instead of relaxing and talking casually, as we've done nearly every day for three years, she has to be stiff and "professional". She has to read from the script. At the end of the transaction, she asks if I want a balance on the checking account. I say, "yes, please." Then, from behind me:

Bill - "CAN YOU CONFIRM YOUR DATE OF BIRTH, SIR?!?"

Confused, I turn my head to him. He's creeped about ten feet over to me since the last time I saw him, like a ninja. I look back to Emily, who's flushed and annoyed. She talks through her teeth.

Emily - "I'm sorry, can you please verify your date of birth, sir?"

She's been calling me by my name for as long as I've known her.

I know the drill. If I want the balance on my checking account, I need to confirm that it's me making the transaction. But I've been going to Emily for years. She wishes me happy birthday the week leading up, and the week following my big day, every year. This year, in particular, she referred to me as "dirty thirty" for the entire month of July. The woman knows my fucking birthday. 

Doorman - "Sure - July 27th, 1984."

BILL - "THANK YOU, SIR!!! EMILY, ALWAYS BE SURE TO VERIFY THE DATE OF BIRTH!!!"

What a cock sucker.

I say goodbye to Emily and begin stuffing my earbuds back into my head.

BILL - "HAVE A GREAT DAY, SIR AND THANK YOU FOR USING TD BANK!!!"

I don't acknowledge him.

Now here's a classic example of a manger having zero clue about how his establishment works. I've been working in hotels for a long time. I've seen a many of lobbies run by idiots like this, who sit in their offices all day, who feel the need to come downstairs once every eight hours, to show the employees "how it's done", and come off as a complete douche bag. They're always the onse who didn't work the way up the ranks - do years on the floor, working with the guests and understanding how the machine is run, then apply it to their supervisor position when they've earned their spot. No, these are the people who got the office job right out of school, earned some bullshit hospitality degree and landed a managerial position.

(Again, I'm not slamming anyone at my current establishment. I'm referring to the many, many hotels I've worked in before this one. Something in Bill sparked something in me from the many, many hotels I've worked in before this one. I respect you all, very much. Please don't fire me.)

Another perfect example - I was working at a smoke-free property. One where you couldn't smoke more than thirty feet from the door. I had made friends with this guy from Boston. He'd given me a twenty on the way in, and we became fast friends. Turned out he was a valet attendant while he worked his way through his undergrad, and now he's a lawyer.

On his last day here, after exchanging countless war stories about the job and the shit we've seen, he came outside with a cigarette, unlit, hanging out of his mouth. Before he could light it, we got to talking again.

No more than thirty seconds into our conversation, my manger comes out, interrupting me mid-sentence:

Manager - "You know this is a non-smoking area, right?"

He turns to my guest.

Manager - "Sir, there are designated smoking areas located on the other side of the building."

The guest obliges, shaking his head and lighting his cigarette as he walks away. The Manager when on to show me, in front of a bunch of people, how to open the door properly. Because apparently I hadn't been opening the door properly.

Here I was, establishing a friendly rapport with a guest, who had some money to throw around, who the hotel would want to see come back, and it was just ruined by some dude who wanted to swing his dick around the lobby on his way out.

Am I saying managers shouldn't be involved in the day-to-day functions? No, of course not. What I'm saying is managers should let their good, sociable employees do whatever it is they do to keep the customers coming back. Showing up an employee in front of a guest is never the answer. Ever.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Doorman Goes to the Post Office - Part II

CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE

I'm on the 2 train headed uptown to work listening to Marc Maron interview Lena Dunham for his WTF podcast. On the way to the subway station, I googled where the closest post office would be near my job (I found out later on that there's one, literally, right behind my apartment. I've been there for three years and had no idea). The closest one is a mere three blocks away from work. I can't tell you how many people, over the years, have asked me where the nearest post office is to location. My response is usually one of the two things:

1 - If they say "excuse me" or "Hello", I tell them that there's one on 9th ave and 51st street, give or take a few blocks. (Turns out I was only an avenue and a half off. Whoops.)

2 - If they don't take the half-a-breath to greet me, I tell them I don't know. This usually results in a snippy ,"how do you not know? You're supposed to be, like, the googlenet on the street with the hat on! You're supposed to know everything!!!" To which I'll just cross my eyes and make my double chin look more profound whilst sticking my tongue out. Then they get frustrated and walk away.

3 - If they, lord forbid, interrupt me mid-sentence, I send them in the opposite direction. So if I'm on 59th and 7th and the post office is on 52nd and 8th, they're being sent to 64th and 5th. Why? Because I'm a petty, bitter doorman and they obviously have much more important things to do that I'm insanely jealous about, according to them.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah! So, I'm on the 2 train listening to Maron and Dunham (great interview, if you haven't heard it). My Wilfred marathon has all but decimated my chances of entering the post office and getting what I have to get done, but maybe I can shoot over there really quick and

What do I do? How do I get a box? OH MY GOD! Do I buy the box at the post office? Don't they overcharge like crazy? Those cock suckers. No wonder why snail mail dead. Everything is too god damn expensive to ship. I really hope that doesn't result in mail carriers being laid off. That would be terrible. I'm friendly with a lot of postal workers. Such nice people. Though all I ever get in the mail is junk advertisements and wedding invitations. And all of my friends are pretty much married at this point, so I won't have to worry about that anymore. I should find a wife. The novelty of the hook-up culture wears off once you hit your late-twenties-early-thirties.

I get off the train, contemplating why it's taken me this long to get married.

Have I just not found my mate? Why the hell don't I let anyone get close to me? Every time I find someone I like, who likes me back, I shut off and push them away. Then I find myself missing them after they've already moved on. Why am I such an idiot?!? But do you really want a wife, though? Or are you just saying that because you just heard Lena Dunham say something really profound and heartfelt about her partner?!? If she, like me, has no problem putting themselves out there to the public and can find someone, why can't I? What's wrong with me?!? 

I wonder why the fuck I'm acting like such an emotional sissy as I get off the 2 train to connect to the Q.

As I'm walking to make my transfer, I see a poster for Gotham, the origin story of the fictional city before Bruce Wayne became Batman. This fills me with an unconscionable amount of glee. Going to wash that little slip-up of sensitivity off with some man stuff. I turn off the Maron-Duhman interview in favor of Hans Zimmer's Dark Knight Rises score.

My rhythmic walking to the pounding percussions and Moroccan chanting that is the brilliant Dark Knight Rises score shaves about ten seconds off my walk over to the Q terminal, and I just barely make one before the sliding doors shut. Thank you, Hans Zimmer.

I sit down on the Q and open up the 2048 game on my phone. It's mercifully only two stops, which means I have less than three minutes to get frustrated with myself. I play, try a new sliding technique this time, and still not even come close to anything that resembles a respectable score. I think about deleting the app, but I can't resist the daily round of self-loathing that comes with not being able to fucking figure out 2048.

I get off at my stop and exit to the street. It's hot. Too hot. I don't want to work in this for the next eight hours. Maybe I should get some iced coffee.

At Dunkin Donuts on a massive line. One person working the counter and 15 people in the back making donuts. Twelve minutes later, it's my turn. I take out my handy-dandy DD Rewards app for them to scan and order my summertime usual - Medium decaf, french vanilla, a little milk and sugar. Less ice. I always ask for less ice because the mother fuckers pack it to the top like their stuffing bubble wrap into a pack-

FUCK!!!

It's now 2:42pm, too late to get to the post office and make it back in time for my 3pm shift.

I clock into work, sipping my now piss-warm iced coffee. I go to the ice machine and shovel in a big scoop of ice, making it a full, brand-new, watery beverage.

I step outside to my office, where I need to come up with a plan to send this fucking watch. Then I hear an all-too-familiar Israeli accent from behind me:

Morrie - "What's up, Doorman? Fucking garbage day. No fucking business!"

The jeweler next store!!! OF COURSE!!!

Morrie: The owner of our neighboring jewelry store, who curses like a sailer and smokes like a tug boat - who would fix any watch or piece of jewelry I give to him, free of charge, under the condition I move any guests who loiter in front of his window without the intention of buying anything and allow the high-rollers who shop in his store to park in the loading zone while they purchased gluttonous amounts of expensive jewelry for their trophy wives.

Why didn't I think to ask him sooner?!?

Doorman - "Morrie, I have this watch that I need to ship. Can you help me out?"

He stares at me, unsure if this were a trick questions, as he chews on his Marlboro Light.

Morrie - "So take it to the fucking post office."

Doorman - "No, I know. But do you have, like, a box or something? Maybe one you can loan me? Like a box for watches?"

Morrie - "You serious?"

I realize how dumb I sound. But I need to finance my web series, so I just fucking own it.

Doorman - "Yep, I've never sent a package in my life and I have no idea what I'm doing."

He looks at me for a few beats, then dryly laughs through the two-pack-a day cake of phlegm lodged in his throat.

Morrie - "So, let me get this straight - you sold the watch on eBay. You paid eBay the 10% fee. And now you're going to spend, what, another ten dollars on shipping the fucking thing?"

You know when you're already aware of how stupid you are, then someone fleshes out every. single. thing. you're feeling bad about? And every bullet point they bring up, just grinds at your teeth and puts a pit in your stomach? That's what happened there. I knew I was barely making a profit here, but chose not to think about it. Then he came in with the dagger:

Morrie - 'How much did you sell it for?"

I tell him. I won't put it on here, because it's awful. Make an educated guess, then subtract that by 50%. You'll probably have the answer.

Morrie - "Are you kidding?!? Why didn't you come to me?!? I would have given you the cash and used it for parts!"

Mother fucker. 

He takes the watch from me.

Morrie - "Here, I'll box it for you."

My eyes light up.

Doorman - "Great, so the postman will pick it up from here???"

Morrie - "Fuck no!"

Doorman - "Wait, so I still have to go to the post office?!?"

Morrie - "Of course!"

Son of a bitch. 

Stay tuned for the conclusion of Doorman Goes to the Post Office!!!