It was late, maybe 11:30pm or so. I'd been summoned by that fucking bell. That little "bing-bong" that's somehow less humiliating than a snap of the fingers or condescending whistle.
Here lies a common problem -- a grown man, in his sixties, perfectly capable of wheeling his own bags to the elevator, perfectly literate and competent to scan the rooms and count the numbers till he finds his domicile, having to come face-to-face with some schmuck who wants to squeeze a few dollars from him.
I've seen said Grown Man hundreds of times, and the reaction is always the game: peak out of corner of their eye, continue signing check-in paperwork, firmly say, "I don't need help", bounce the eager little bellboy back to his desk, where bellboy could murmur to the other bellboys about what a lowlife said grown man is, to which Grown Man has zero fucks to give.
He was my dad's age, traveling with who appeared to be his teenage son. Teenage son couldn't be bothered to engage with the world, as made evident by the large Beats headphones and refusal to look up from his iPad. Actually, I take that back -- he took 5 seconds to jolt his head up and demand a wifi code.
The Night Auditor slid the key card packet over to me, as I stood stupidly with a complimentary Time Out magazine and folded map of the city, nearly cracking my grinding teeth through an obviously forced smile.
Night Auditor - "Ok, so this is Doorman. He's going to take you up to the room."
Without looking, Grown Man snatches the key card packet out of my hands.
Grown Man - "We'll be taking ourselves up, fank you!"
I couldn't help but fantasize about a freeze-frame of his stunned face,
the nano-second after it being cold-cocked by a shovel. This image,
which I would imagine is eerily similar to what he would look like upon
realizing he left his phone charger at home whilst biting down on a
lemon, makes me unconscionably happy.
Now, when this happens, I never direct them to their elevator bank. We have three separate wings, and the only mini-victory I could salvage in that moment is them getting in the wrong elevator, only to come down ten minutes later, furiously and frantically asking me where to find their room. My response is always a shit-eating, "But... I thought you didn't need help finding it?" Most people don't like the feeling of someone looking at them like they want to punch them in the mouth. I've grown to relish it. It's the little things, man.
However, when Grown Man had to uproot Teenage Son from the now wifi-rich spot that he'd been planted in, they turned, and guessed correctly.
Oh well... I'll just go back to Tinder swiping while I kill time the end of my shift at 2am.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, match! Oops, unmatch, yes, yes, no, yes, no, no, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, match! Hey, how's it going, no response, yes, yes, no, no, etc....
The elevator dings. Grown Man comes rumbling down.
Oh, sweet baby Jesus!!!
Apparently his keys don't work. The Night Auditor summons me over.
Doorman - "But, he wanted to go up by himself!"
Night Auditor knows the deal. He saw how the guy treated me, but now I'm just being spiteful.
Night Auditor - "Please... they keys aren't working."
I walked over to this dickhead, noticing the stupid t-shirt he's wearing that says, "Aren't you tired of all the hypothetical questions?" I immediately fantasized about removing that shirt from his body... with hydrochloric acid.
I grabbed the keys from the Night Auditor and hastily walk to the elevators, with Grown Man lagging behind. Good. I hope he's exhausted from an 8 hour flight and a five hour time difference, and this bumpy start to his vacation is just a sign for what's yet to come. If he had just treated me with a little respect and let me show him up to the room, I would have let him in with my master key, ran downstairs, and gotten him a new set of functioning keys.
After wordless 22-story jump to his floor, the elevator door opened, and the first sight I saw was Teenage Son sitting on the floor, face still buried in his iPad, music still coursing through his eardrums through those massive fucking headphones. I'm convinced that if no one moved him, he's stay planted in that spot for the next 36 hours. If there's any one alarming thing I've noticed while working this job, it's that the youth of this planet are all becoming mindless, screen-staring drones.
(This is coming from the guy whose first impulse when he gets into the elevator and out of sight from the guests will be to take out his smartphone and resume Tinder-swiping.)
I tested the first key - nothing. Second key - same. So, I went into my pocket, opened the door with my master key, and turned to leave.
Grown Man - "Wait a minute."
He handed me a dollar, you know, for my troubles.
I didn't want his fucking dollar, so I declined. Now, most people, when giving them back a shitty and insulting tip, will cause a scene, completely incensed that this little beggar wouldn't take this money they were so generously giving him. As if we should be grateful that they understand how the tipping system works, yet don't deem my labor or time valuable enough for a fair wage.
Nope, Grown Man was relieved. He didn't have to part with this dollar that the little bellboy wasn't supposed to have in the first place. He went into his room, never to think about me again. I got back to the lobby and killed time till 2am.
I think maybe it's time to move on.