Thursday, October 23, 2014

Assume the Worst!

I've been seeing a psychotherapist, on and off, for about five years. It's gotten me through various ruts in my life, most notably this recent "I thought I was only going to be doing this job for a few months, and, fuck me, three years later..." crisis. My current therapist has been a blessing, as they've all been. She's been drilling one thing into my head every time I go on one of my tirades about the disrespect I take on a daily basis at work: 

You have to understand- you're just doing your job. Maybe it's something going on with them that they're projecting onto you. 

I've done my damnedest to apply that to my daily routine. Every time a cabbie picks a fight with me, every time a town car driver tells me to fuck off, or just people being shitty in general, I tell myself that I'm trying my best to do the right thing. That I'm just doing my job, and if someone is being an asshole, it's their projection onto me. I'm just a uniform to them. I can't take it personally. 

That mentality has carried me through the last few months. With the exception of a few minor slip-ups, I've managed to keep from completely losing my shit on people. New chapter in my doorman career: assume the worst from people, because that's what I've grown accustomed to, and I'll be delighted when I see the best in them. 

The mantra - Assume the worst, and you'll never be disappointed.

It's a sad thing - to have your faith in humanity completely eroded over the course of three, long years. But it's what's getting me through the day now. And you know what? It's working. I assume that I'm not going to get tipped, or the cabbie is going to tell me to fuck off, or that my boss is going to come from his office and tell me I'm not holding the door open correctly. Then, when it happens, I simply shrug my shoulders and go on with my day. 

Assume the worst, and you'll never be disappointed. It's not me, it's them. 

So, what happens when you assume the worst? That time a guest slips you a ten, or when the cabbie says, "yes sir, I can take the old lady ten blocks out of my way right before my shift ends", or when my boss comes down from his office and says, "your positioning while holding the door open for guests has been stellar this week, keep it up!"... it's a pleasant surprise. 

Taking that attitude and flipping it has been ironically healthy for me. Keeping a positive mindset, hoping that it'll generate more positivity, then repeatedly being let down simply wasn't. Now, I assume the worst, and am uplifted when proven wrong. Instead of perpetually being let down every day, I'm consistently having my faith in people restored! 

Most people in the service industry can relate to the feeling you get when being summoned to wait on a notoriously non-to-low-tipping group of people. I don't have to say who. I don't have to specify. If you've worked in the industry, or if you've watched a few movies, you know the culprits. How glorious is it when you anticipate the stiff from these people, only to be proven wrong when they take good care of you? Don't you feel like a little bit of an asshole? Don't you regret all of those inappropriate, borderline racist thoughts that zipped through your head while waiting on them? But, at the same time, aren't you so fucking relieved that you didn't have to experience what you've played out in your head since the moment they sat in your section, or, in my case, pulled up in a taxi? 

Isn't it nice to be pleasantly surprised? Try having this feeling several times per day. 

Do I live the rest of my life this way? No. Well.. sort of. But I'm a fucking actor. I learned after my first few dozen "great" auditions that keeping positive thoughts generates dick and does nothing but get your hopes up. I've had a decade of great auditions, close calls, friends who offered to show my scripts to "network people", "sure things", "great opportunities", potential big breaks, life-changers, career-makers. I've called my parents, bragged to friends, posted boisterous, "100+ like" Facebook status updates, showed off, and ultimately shut up. Hell - I ENDED THIS FUCKING BLOG A YEAR AGO BECAUSE I THOUGHT I WAS ON THE VERGE OF GETTING A NETWORK DEAL. 

Maybe turning 30 has fucked with me a little more than I'd thought. Or maybe I'm just becoming a cynic. Or maybe turning 30 made me a cynic. Fuck if I know. 

Shit, that was some digression. I actually sat down to write a story. Something that happened at work tonight. Are you still with me? Good. Here goes: 

It was a frigid, rainy night. The wind was blowing downward towards the hotel, as it usually does, with resulted in icy, beady drops of rain pecking at my face as I stood in the middle of the avenue getting taxis for people. After three years, I'm fucking shocked that I haven't been killed yet. The way cars come zipping down, weaving in and out of traffic, and me just standing there, dressed in all-black after the sun goes down, casually stepping to the side and barely avoiding cars as if it were nothing. One day, someone is going to distract me, and the next thing I know I'll be a floating entity, watching my corpse being scraped off the front of a tour bus.  

Most people I hail taxis for couldn't give a fuck about this. They stand under the heat lamps, watching me risk my life so they could get five blocks down to the theatre district with their discount tickets to Phantom of the Opera. They don't care that I could be killed at any moment, or that I'm going to have a consistent cold from November-March due to getting soaked to my balls every night.  

The guests stiffing me is one thing, but there's something I cannot tolerate. (See how I used "cannot" instead of "can't"? That's how you know I'm serious.) It's the scumbag who isn't a guest, who sees me, already wet schmuck out in the middle of the street, and treats my like I'm some public servant, generating available taxis for the people. They duck under the marquis, warm and dry under the heat lamps, get in line, and let me do all the work. Then give me nothing. 

Seriously, how fucked up is that? Abuse a service that you're not paying for, then, on top of that, not take care of the guy going out of his way for you? 

In the past, I've seen people sneak over and try to pull this shit, to which I'll yell, "Ok, folks, if you're waiting for a taxi, please have your room keys out." 

The clueless people will leave. The savvy people will stick around, though they know they have to pony up some dough. Instead of presenting me with a room key, they say, "I don't have a room key to show you, but here are some dead presidents instead." 

Sometimes I'll take a flyer on people whom I think know the deal. It's usually business people, or sharply dressed couples on their way to the theater. I can always spot a gentleman from New Jersey whose wife doesn't want to get her dress wet. Those guys will always throw me a few bones.

So, when three older gentlemen in suits came out of the high-end restaurant on the corner and under my marquis to get a taxi, I greeted them with the initial question: 

Doorman - "Hi, guys. You guests at the hotel?" 

The leader, probably the boss, answers for everyone. 

Guy - "Yeah." 

I recognized the "yeah" in his voice. It wasn't, "yeah, we're guests." It was, "if that's what you want to hear - sure thing, stupid." 

Fine by me. They look like they've been around the block. They look like New Yorkers. I'm not going to push it any further. A cardinal rule in working for tips is to never insult a potential big-tipper. I'm a great tipper, and I find it irritating when someone no-so-subtly drops hints, insinuating that I might not take care of them. 

I stand there for about five minutes, dodging cars while having my face assaulted by the menacing little micro-drops of frozen rain. 

A taxis finally pulls up. 

Here I was, assuming that these guys were going to take care of me. Generating a positive assumption, hoping for a positive outcome. These guys, these fucking suits, these cunts, who had just spent their evening downing whiskeys and eating one of the best meals in the city, likely on the arm while they "entertained clients", who couldn't be bothered to get a little wet and hail their own taxi, scampered into the cab without tipping or saying thank you. A cab that, I'll bet my life on it, will be expensed at the end of the month. They let me - a working man, who pays his own way home and for all his meals, stand out in the freezing rain for them, like I fucking owed them something. 

The last guy gets in. I wait for someone to say something. Anything

Guy - "Could you close the door, please?" 

In addition to never being killed by an on-coming vehicle, I'm continuously surprised I haven't committed some sort of violent crime yet. Because all I wanted to do was take a blunt object to all three of these assholes. 

Doorman - "Are you fucking kidding me?!?" 

They all turn to me. Hello, audience. 

Doorman - "It's one thing that you're not guests, but I fucking work on tips!" 

I slam the door shut and give them the finger. 

Doorman - "Fucking lowlives!"

The three at them stare at me for a brief moment, the simultaneously turn their attention forward and continue on with their evening, unflinched by my verbal accosting. 

What did I expect? Did I think I was going to change the way they treated the common working folk? Do I believe that they treated their server at the restaurant, or the cabbie they're about to get driven by, any better? Did I really think I was going to teach these fifty-something year-old men any fucking manners? 

No. I assumed the best, and was let down by the worst. I went against what had been working for me for the past few months, and look where it got me?

Would I have flipped out on those guys had I'd been in my "assume the worst" mindset? 

Yeah, probably. Because I'm a lunatic. 

But, as my therapist said - It's not me. It's not anything I'm doing wrong (besides not getting a new job, but that's not the point here), it's them. Those guys are scumbags. And they're projecting their "rulers-of-the-universe" mentality on me. I can't take it personally. I won't take it personally. 

But that's easier said than done. 

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