How’s The Hook Doing?

It’s been awhile, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to reintroduce myself…

Hello, everyone, my name is Robert Hookey but you can call me The Hook, everyone else does. 

I’ve had the great honor of addressing all of you via this slice of cyberspace for years now, though I’ve been noticeably absent for months now. That isn’t going to change anytime soon (this message, such as it is, being the obvious exception) but I just wanted to update you, my lovely and sweet-smelling readership base, on a few things:

ONE)  I am indeed still among the living. Sort of. I have a pulse, my lungs appear to be functioning as well as one would expect the lungs of a forty-eight-year-old, non-smoking, white male to be working. In general, my physical form is operating efficiently.

But my mind is all over the place. I alternate back and forth between being a functioning part of society, such as it is these days, and a total veg. The reason for that is simple really…

TWO)  My mother is still dead. But yes, my warped, more-than-slightly-askew sense of humor is still alive and kicking!

To suggest that my mother’s prolonged battle with flesh eating disease, which became bladder cancer, which became the bone cancer that ultimately claimed her life has taken a toll on me is to suggest Donnie Trump has been a tad controversial this past year.

I’ve been unable to write anything longer than a tweet for three months. With one exception; a few lines I wrote in the hospital on my phone as my mother lay sleeping…

“I’ve never understood the saying, “The silence was deafening”, not until I sat with my mother as she lay dying.

Oh sure, there was a cacophony of back ground noise, medical staff and earnest trainees milling about, alarms beeping, patients moaning and pleading to go home, but the silence in the room itself was too powerful to be ignored.”

And that’s it, that’s all I’ve been capable of for three months. The emotional aftermath from clearing up my mother’s affairs and discovering the extent to which her life had fallen apart have also proven to be a challenge but one that’s been largely dealt with, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

THREE)  Between my father-in-law, Rockin’ Ronnie, my mother, and another friend who appears to be on the edge, it feels like Death itself is constantly looming over me. I keep thinking about that poem about God walking alongside a person and carrying them at times.

That poem sucks.

God doesn’t walk beside me, He just occasionally sticks his foot out and laughs as I fall on my face. Death, however has been hanging about like that party guest you just can’t convince to leave or that neighbor or co-worker that makes you cringe every time you see them. I’ve become fascinated with understanding the concept of anti-life.

Though I realize I never will. Not until it’s too late to share, at least.

 

I’ve actually met this version of Death from Supernatural in person. He was quite nice.

 

Dead people look like they’re sleeping. But they’re not. They appear to be at peace. But there’s no way of knowing for sure, they could be screaming, “Let me out of this rotting meat bag!” for all we know.

I apologize if my humor is offensive to some of you, but the truth is, humor is a great defense mechanism. It’s no pepper spray.. but it’ll work in a pinch.

And that’s all I have for you today. I’ve rambled, I’ve pondered, I’ve shared. Now I’m done.

See you in the lobby or the cemetery, kids…

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Where’s The Hook Been?

You’ve probably been noticing a lack of Hook in your virtual diet.

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  •  Cranium lethargy.
  •  Sore joints (not the type you roll and which are soon to be legal in Canada) and aching muscles.
  •  Blurred vision.
  •  Feelings of severe depression and anxiety with a capital “ANX”.
  •  Nausea.
  •  Diarrhea. (But keep that symptom to yourself.)
  •  And in extreme cases… the will to keep on living even thought your life sucks rocks.

The truth is, I’ve tried writing a new post a million times (okay, my math may be a bit off, just go with it) but I just don’t have the ambition. My creative engine is as cold as Melania Trump’s nether region since the public became aware of the “Stormy front” that’s been hitting the White House.

You see, friends… well, the truth is, my mother is lying in a hospital bed battling bladder cancer that has crept into her bones. The prognosis is clean-cut though impossible to accept: she will not survive. Mom has held on for two weeks now; she’s been stronger than me, to be honest.

I could write volumes on my often tumultuous relationship with my mother but I’m not up to writing at all, so now that I’ve provided you with an explanation for my absence, I’m going to attempt to get back to my life. Such as it is.

The weight has been unbearable, especially when I think of what I’ve lost in the past few years, but others carry far more weight and have done so for far longer so who am I to complain?

By the way, I need to publicly acknowledge my beautiful bride for being my rock; she’s been the best damn daughter-in-law anyone ever had as well. Watching Mom slowly fade away has stirred a lot of painful memories in my wife but she keeps going with a smile and a will of iron.

You’ll see me tweeting occasionally. (We all have our coping mechanisms. Mine happens to be cheaper than booze, smokes and pharmaceuticals.)

See you in the lobby, kids…

I’m trying to hang in there, I swear.

 

POSTSCRIPT: Ironically, WordPress has just informed me that this lame-ass excuse for a post is actually #1,000 in the annals of Hook history. (I’m so glad I spelled “annals” right.)

I know this hasn’t been my best work, but enjoy, you filthy animals…

1,000 Posts

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From Fiction To All-Too Real Fact In Seconds.

My daughter lost a bit of her innocence last night.

At ease, people, no salacious details will be found here. I’m about to wax philosophical. Whatever the hell that means.

So there we were, watching the last ten seconds of Once Upon A Time unfold when the picture was interrupted and replaced by an ominous countdown…

All I could think was,”Great, they’re reviving those emergency broadcast system alerts. The dog is about to go nuts at that high pitch.”

But no, it was just President Donald Trump (I still can’t get used to using those words in succession) announcing a military strike on Syria’s chemical weapons factories, something he hinted at earlier in the week, thus defying his edict to never announce where he was gong to strike or when. Trump stuck to the speech. He was controlled, on-point and focused. That alone left us gobsmacked, to say nothing of his announcement itself.

It didn’t last night.

My daughter, in particular, listened intently and then returned to her online group chat with her college classmates. After a few minutes of virtual chatter she posed a question to me that left me momentarily breathless.

“Some of my friends think this is the beginning of the end… is it?”

Sure, my kid is nineteen, but her mind is older (bonus points if you got that reference) and an adult herself (I hate that about her) but she’s deliberately hanging onto her sense of child-like wonder for as long as she can. But the thought of an imminent war with Syrian ally Russia is seriously harshing her mellow. And so she was looking to her “Skippy’ (that’s me) to provide some solace and reassurance that she’d make it to twenty without having to worry about nuclear fallout creating a horde of zombies she’d have to run from. Outside.

Kids these days aren’t big on running, especially when they have to do it outside.

But back to me and my superior parenting skills. I took a moment to ponder my answer, as this was a big moment in our family history. On one hand I wanted to be the cool dad and answer quickly, thus allowing her to get back to her regular existence (my daughter’s IC has made her life a living hell at times but she’s a happy person overall). On the other hand, I barely know how to ignite a female orgasm… to say nothing of discussing world politics… so how the hell am I qualified to handle this query?

But you can’t run from these things (sadly) so I soldiered on. 

“It better not be… I just got our tickets for Niagara Falls Comic Con.”

That brought back to her reality immediately – after the inevitable eye roll, of course. Later on, I spouted some bullshit about America’s reluctance to get into a full-scale conflict with Russia, and the effect such a war would have on the stock market, but in the end, it really was all bullshit. I’m a bellman, what the hell do I know about this stuff?

At the end of the day all we can do as parents is play to our strengths and hope for the best, folks. At least that’s been my philosophy for nineteen years and since my daughter’s not pregnant, snorting condoms or eating Tide Pods, I’d say it’s working pretty well.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

I know we’re all scared, but life endures, people. Always.

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State Of Affairs: Hook Style.

More than a few grains of sand have fallen since I posted last (though I’ve been present on the amazing, wholly-original OTV Magazine site) so I’ve been trying to come up with something to satisfy your ravenous hunger for my particular brand of madness… to no avail.

It’s not that I haven’t had source material to draw on; Passover was last week so there were thousands of Jewish travelers and their spawn to deal with at the hotel, and the annual Cheer Evolution competition brought millions of cheerleaders to Niagara. Okay, so my math may be slightly askew, but it certainly sounded like millions of cheerleaders.

But I’ve been dead tired lately so my creative engine is chugging like a rusted out pick-up truck rather than humming like a new model Charlotte Stokely. Plus, we’re having our basement completely renovated from the weeping tile to the ceiling, and while I suck at DIY, I’m awesome at demolition. So I was in charge of ripping out the old walls and ceiling out. (With help from my lovely bide, of course.)

By the way, Charlotte Stokely is an actress of world-renown and boundless talent. If you’re not familiar with her, you really need to pray for forgiveness from your senses because you’ve been doing them a great disservice. Personally, if I was them, I’d make you suffer greatly. But that’s just me.

Now on with my thoughts on current events in Canada and the world.

Humboldt Strong: A deadly bus crash in Canada’s Saskatchewan province last Friday evening has rocked my home and native land to it’s core and drawn the attention of the world. A bus was carrying a junior hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, collided with a tractor-trailer. As of this writing, details are still sparse, but all that really matters is this: fifteen people (ten Broncos players and five support staff, including two coaches) were senselessly killed and at least 14 others injured.

They were just kids on their way to play the game they loved.

They were the adults who devoted their lives to nurturing the dreams of youths who dreamed of glory on the ice.

Everyone who has learned of this tragedy has been touched to their core. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate the game; there are some moments that break down the barriers that divide us as human beings and help us become the best version of ourselves. In that spirit, here is the full list of the Fallen:

 

(Liam Richards/The Canadian Press via AP)

Humboldt Broncos players:

• Adam Herold, 16, Montmartre, Saskatchewan.

The youngest team member to die in the crash. He was raised on a farm and was a hunter and snowmobiler.

• Conner Lukan, 21, Slave Lake, Alberta.

He lived with the family of Kevin Garinger, the Broncos’ president.

• Evan Thomas, 18, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The son of Scott Thomas, president of the Saskatoon Blazers hockey team. He also played baseball at a national level. His family said that he was considering becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

• Jacob Leicht, 19, Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

The only player from the town to die in the collision. He played left wing for the team.

• Jaxon Joseph, 20, Edmonton, Alberta.

He joined the team in a trade earlier this year and was the son of Chris Joseph, who played for seven National Hockey League teams between 1987 and 2006.

• Logan Boulet, 21, Lethbridge, Alberta.

A player in his third season for the Broncos. He had just signed up to be an organ donor, and six of his organs were transplanted or prepared for transplants. From tragedy can come inspiration and hope: Young Logan just became a hero.

• Logan Hunter, 18, St. Albert, Alberta.

He played right wing for the team.

• Logan Schatz, 20, Allan, Saskatchewan.

• Stephen Wack, 21, St. Albert, Alberta.

His junior hockey career was coming to an end. Mr. Wack was planning a career in video production, and he had posted several videos on YouTube.

• Parker Tobin.

Incorrect information from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Saskatchewan, originally misidentified Broncos player Xavier Labelle as Parker Tobin. This was an unbelievably horrible error, but coroners are human too and the scene of the crash was immersed in chaos. Additionally, many players has dyed their hair blonde and Tobin and Labelle had similar features.

Team Personnel:

• Brody Hinz, 18, Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Mr. Hinz volunteered as the team statistician. He was about to finish high school and had been planning a career in broadcasting. Is there anything more heartbreaking than a life that ends before it could truly begin?

• Darcy Haugan, 42, Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Hired as the Broncos’ head coach in 2015. He was originally from Peace River, Alberta. He had studied at Northern Michigan University on a hockey scholarship and briefly played professionally in Sweden.

• Glen Doerksen, 59, Carrot River, Saskatchewan.

The team’s bus driver. He had officiated and sat on the board of his local junior B hockey team, the Carrot River Thunder.

• Mark Cross, 27, Strasbourg, Saskatchewan.

The team’s assistant coach. He studied kinesiology at York University in Toronto and played on its hockey team before returning to Saskatchewan.

• Tyler Bieber, 29, Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Mr. Bieber was the play-by-play radio broadcaster.

Better days. Rest well, friends.

That’s all I have for you today. I’d like to be witty and entertaining (for once) but this incident has stirred feelings in me that, to be honest, are always at the surface anyway. In closing, it speaks volumes about my country and its love for the game that Canadians everywhere paused for a moment when this news broke on the weekend. It makes me proud to be Canadian.

See you in the lobby, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments

The Hook Did New York – And They Declared A State Of Emergency.

But I had nothing to do with it, I swear.

Nevertheless, I was there at the same time as “Snowmageddon 2018”, so I’m sure I’ll the history books will blame me.

My mind is in a strange place these days. (I know what you’re thinking: “You mean you consider yourself normal the rest of the time, Hook?”) So please, bear with me.

My latest Big Apple adventure began on Tuesday when we received an e-mail that made my daughter’s heart sink into her designer socks. Mother Nature’s “fury” had prompted Air Canada to cancel both our flights to and from New York, thus derailing our second one-day excursion south of the border. Suddenly my child’s plans for experiencing the intense beauty that is Dear Evan Hansen appeared to be down the tubes.

Then my wife managed to get through to an actual Air Canada booking agent as I was still navigating their labyrinth of a website. Every flight had been canceled for the day of our departure but twenty minutes later, our one-day trip became a three day adventure.

Then the fun began.

And by “fun” I mean a whirlwind of human misadventure.

My daughter went from zero to one thousand when my wife ran downstairs and told her to start packing, which if you’re female or know one, means all heck broke loose as she attempted to wash her hair, do her make-up and pack for two days in an hour.

Bu then the sixty minutes became twenty when the car service we had arranged for 4:30 am told me they could pick us up at 3:30 pm instead. Then we had to really scramble like a short-order chef at a truck stop.

Yes, I paint with words, what of it?

The next step was to get back to that plastic portal to the world I call a computer and arrange for lodging. Seconds later I found a room that was dirt cheap ($45 a night for a two-room suite through the hotel’s travel program, which meant I wouldn’t keep my kid awake all night with my snoring like I did last time) and that was perfect in every way – with one minor exception.

“Hey, kid! Guess what? We’re sleeping in Jersey for two nights!”

With that, I grabbed some clothes, kissed the wife and left her alone in the house with two construction workers (I’m happy to report that our basement will no longer look like the last act of Titanic when Niagara experiences a heavy rain or spring thaw) and hopped in a Towne car bound for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. 

And then we were flying higher than a supermodel in the Eighties!

 

Some may disagree, but Air Canada rocks, kids.

An evening flight got us to New York one night before the raging snowstorm they were anticipating. Normally I’d take NY Transit to the Port Authority from the airport and then a bus from there, which, and I cannot stress this enough, IS YOUR BEST VALUE, kids. Doubting me, Thomas? Look at the facts:

  •  NY Transit is $16 a person.
  •  NJ Transit is $4.50 a person.
  •  A cab from La Guardia to our hotel in Secaucus with tolls (which are killer) was $85.

But beggars can’t be choosers at ten o’clock at night in NYC, friends.

But our cabbie was awesome, East Indian, and full of cool conversation

CABBIE: (While driving through the Lincoln Tunnel.) Very scary here sometimes! One time I follow the… orange thingies here…

ME: Pylons?

CABBIE:  Yes! Those things! I follow them… and someone turn them around, so I end up back the same way I go!

ME:  You went in a circle!

CABBIE:  Yes! Was crazy!

I highly recommend a drive through New York at night. Thirty minutes later we arrived at Embassy Suites by Hilton Secaucus Meadowlands and I fell in love with this throwback to a simpler time.

I have no idea who these corporate drones are, so make up a cool backstory of your own.

In the interest of time and the fact my head still hasn’t cleared up, I’m going to encapsulate the rest of my tale in pics and my patent-pending commentary. We set out to Times Square, Broadway, and all parts in-between on Wednesday morning after using NJ Transit (it rocks and you won’t get shot!) and our trip truly kicked into high gear.

 

This is what a state of emergency looks like in NYC and NJ. Giant, super-wet flakes and the possibility of a more powerful storm – that never actually arrives.

While the snow didn’t accumulate, it was wet as hell. (I so want to make a very adult joke here, but I’m not going to.) A quick trip to a cavernous souvenir shop remedied the face we didn.t bring any winter gear with us. We met many residents of New York of New Jersey, none of whom threatened to shank us or steal our kidneys. Here are a few…

 

The Port Authority morning horde (and military security on the left), meet my readers. Readers, meet the PA morning horde.

Even the birds that make NYC their home have attitude. I loved it.

 

I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure one or both of these pigeons were packing; I saw NRA pins…

 

No trip to Broadway would have been complete without a visit to Schmackary’s, the ultimate cookie joint, where dozens of Broadway stars hang out – and eat cookies, obviously. We didn’t spot any, but we did meet some ladies who were going to the same same show as us.

So we sat there and ate giant cookies and drank some delicious American milk. Fun fact: US milk in glass bottles is a million times better than Canadian milk in plastic bags.

Our cows really have to step up their game.

From there we headed to the Happiest Place On Earth. Sort of. The Times Square Disney store is a subsidiary of the aforementioned HPOE (t almost spells hope!) and I must caution you: if you have small children… and a credit card… STAY AWAY FROM THE DISNEY STORE! It’ll break you, man.

Finally, the moment my kid had been waiting for arrived at the Music Box Theatre, took our seats and waited for Dear Evan Hansen to begin. If your unfamiliar with this production, here’s a quick synopsis: Evan Hansen is a high school senior who suffers from social anxiety disorder, which makes him as twitchy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. After the suicide of one of his classmates, he gets drawn into a lie that inadvertently brings him closer to the classmate’s family, while also allowing him to gain his own sense of purpose.

The opening set-piece of Dear Evan Hansen. This show will move you in ways you’ll never imagine.

 

In other words, this musical hit home for me. And I mean it hit me hard. I teared up after the second song (“Waving Through A Window”), but by the last piece to preceded the intermission (“You Will Be Found”), my resolve broke.

Something in the song made me realize that Rockin’ Ronnie only wanted to come home, but, for reasons that are best unsaid, he had to have been convinced that was impossible. The tears flowed as freely as the snow outside, but I persevered. Dear Evan Hansen ended an hour later and that brings us to the last part of my journey worth mentioning.

Tales of brusque New Yorkers with violent tempers are legendary but we’ve never encountered any in our two previous excursions there. That changed when a couple that was sitting beside my daughter threatened to sic the usher on her. They saw her phone on her lap and apparently they were convinced she was recording the show. This is actually a common practice; Sarah likes to take pics before the show and immediately after the last song, when the cast addresses the audience. Both prctises are allowed but this couple wouldn’t relent.

The show resumed as I was about to confront these idiots so I held back, but as we were waiting at the stage door my blood began to boil. Which was ironic considering we were soaked from snowflakes the size of a small car. And so I left my daughter standing at the barricades surrounding the stage door, surrounded by strangers and I followed two morons down the street to confront them.

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a clue what I was going to say. And considering the male was built and far younger than me, I most likely didn’t have a chance. Nevertheless, I confronted them both, questioning why they’d threaten a child, my child.

They were walking with a crowd that immediately stopped moving to watch this lanky, crazed tourist in a FDNY toque scream at the couple who looked like deer in headlights.

“She’s a kid!” (To me, of course.)

“Well, we thought she was recording the show,” was his excuse, “that’s not right!”

“What are you, the Broadway police? Who cares what she’s doing? Mind your own business!”

The male moved to attack but his companion blocked his way and apologized. “We’re so sorry to have upset your daughter.” was all she could offer.

“You’re sorry… he’s a fucking dick!” was all I could counter-offer.

 

The (snow-bound) Canadian gangster look was the only weapon in my arsenal.

With that, I walked away, hopeful that he wouldn’t jump me from behind, forcing me to resort to my only plan of attack/defense: throwing him into the street where he’d hopefully get hit by a cab.

Yes, that was my plan. Make of it what you will.

The “storm” had shut down the city’s transit system so I spent roughly a half an hour and a hundred bucks ($50 flat rate plus tolls and tip, naturally) negotiating with a horde of cabbies to get us back to the hotel but it was worth it.

 

Our ride out of Jersey and back to the Great White North. The irony was inescapable: we left Canada, which had no snow, to come to New York, which was soon covered in the stuff.

And that’s my story, friends. Thanks for sticking with me for this unusually-long post.

See you in the lobby, kids…

 

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The Hook’s Top One Hundred: Part Four.

Time for our fourth fantastic (as in the Fantastic Four) and final installment, kids!

Yeah, I’m a nerd, but I’ve had sex with a woman, so what of it? Speaking of sex…

FUN WITH HOOKERS – THAT DIDN’T COST ME A DIME.

76)  I once shared an elevator with a hooker named Candy. More than once in fact. On one occasion, however, I couldn’t help myself; I had to comment on the young lady’s lack of creativity.

“But I taste great on the tongue… just like candy!”

77)  Once upon a time there was a hooker who walked into the lobby at ten pm. She left an hour later and returned at midnight. She left again and returned, at two am. At no point did she change her clothes.

I still get itchy just thinking about it.

78)  One particularly-industrious hooker developed a system that worked perfectly: she’d arrive in the middle of the night with a few of her colleagues, rent a few rooms, and hold “parties” in them. She’d bounce between rooms (and in them, no doubt) and make sure everything went as smooth as lube.

The hotel eventually shut her midnight party machine down but her legend lives on.

79)  A hooker once walked in with her two young children in tow and asked me to babysit while she met up with her new “friend”. I’m guessing his nae was John. I had to refuse, even though she vowed, “I’ll make it worth your while honey!”

She was missing two teeth. And if I had said yes, I would’ve been too.

80)  The pimp who came in on a Hoverboard. And checked in on a Hoverboard. And went to the room and helped unload his bags on a Hoverboard while his ladies got set up in the room.

81)  The first night the hotel was opened was memorable; we had a skeleton crew (I was the entire Front Desk staff), numerous issues ranging from dead phone lines to wonky plumbing… and the most unattractive hooker I’ve ever seen.

That said, I felt really bad for the poor girl when she was turned away by the idiot on the thirty-second floor who, upon opening the door t her, said, “Oh hell, no!”, before slamming the door in her face. Undaunted, he came down immediately after she left and asked me for some more numbers of escort agencies.

I love humanity.

 

BUCKET LISTERS.

Niagara is the destination of choice for thousands of people who want to scratch certain experiences off their personal “I have To See This Place Before I Die” list. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of these people and my life is richer for the experience.

82)  A middle-aged lady from Ohio, who was afflicted with breast cancer declared…

“I came to kick Niagara’s ass and chew Big League Chew! And I’m all out of Big League Chew!”

Anyone who can face the grim specter of death and laugh about is okay in my books.

 

 

83)  I met a man who had been given three weeks to live and he decided to blow his life savings at the casino while breathing in the natural wonder of Niagara. On one hand, I wanted him to lose (since that’s what he wanted) but on the other, what if he lost everything – and then went into remission?

84)  There was the forty-something stockbroker from NYC who developed pancreatic cancer just as his investment ship came in. He wanted to see the Falls for himself “Just to be sure there’s actually something good and pure in a cruel, cruel universe.”

85)  A couple that had been married fifty-five years found themselves behind an even bigger eight ball than the stock broker; they had both been given terminal diagnoses. Nevertheless, they were determined to make the most of the time they had left by breathing in the magnificence of the Niagara region. And by tipping me large.

And being the humanitarian I am, I let them.

 

MISCELLANEOUS ENCOUNTERS TO TAKE US HOME.

86)  The little African-American teen from Watts – with the giant effed up afro – who approached my desk and asked, “Where the white women at?”

87)  Louis Farrakhan and his entourage took over the valet deck one night. His bodyguards were packing obvious heat and they refused to let me take their charge’s bags upstairs without an armed escort.

Who’s going to steal Louis Farrakhan’s bags?

88)  Love isn’t blind, the heart simply ignores what it cannot handle. I once shared an elevator with a petite, crimson-haired young lady with tears in her empty eyes. I recognized her as a new arrival; her boyfriend was a skeevy white boy with delusions of being the next Fifty Cent.

Her lover was a disaster but she was all over him in the lobby when they checked in though it appeared he had turned on her, and not for the first time, I was willing to bet. Normally, I’d avoid speaking my mind about a situation like this unless an opening presented itself.

But if not me, then who?

ME:  You must have strong shoulders to carry such a weight.

HER:  What? (She pondered my words for a moment and then continued.) Oh! Is it… that obvious?

ME:  I’m sure you’re very strong… but yes.

HER:  I’m just… dealing with some things right now. Sometimes… it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is, you know?

ME:  Actually, I’ve always believed that we instinctively recognize the right thing… but our emotions tend to override logic. Love is a beautiful thing but it makes fools of us all at times.

HER:  Oh. Uh… you sure don’t talk like other bellguys!

ME:  There are no bellmen like me, miss. Sorry I can’t be of much real assistance, but I’m sure you’ll do the right thing… eventually.

HER:  You don’t even know me. How can you have faith in me?

ME:  In this job you learn to read people immediately. Besides, it doesn’t matter if I have faith in you… as long as you have faith in yourself. Of course, now I sound like a fortune cookie.

She laughed. It was probably the deepest laugh she’d released in some time. We parted ways and that was that; no resolution or happy endings, just two strangers in an elevator.

89)  The two drunken bridesmaids I lent my luggage cart to. They wanted to make a splash when they walked into their BFF’s wedding reception and so the hotel’s banquet manager wheeled them in the hall’s main doors when their names were announced. In they went, their inebriated nubile forms splayed across the cart.

That’s a wedding photo you don’t put on the mantle, that’s for sure.

90)  The two demonic African-American tweens who tried to shove their little white-as-snow sister down their floor’s laundry chute. (Not coincidentally, the hotel added locks to the chutes shortly thereafter.)

Why cant we all just get along and not try and shove our sister-from-another-mother down laundry chutes?

91)  The celebrity-obsessed nine-year-old girl who told me, “John Mayer is a man-whore! I bet he has more diseases than the CDC!”

This kid was awesome.

92)  The good ole boy from Alabama who pulled out a handgun and just started waving it around in the room while his friends just went about their business. The Hook, however, did his best Barry Allen impression and beat his feet out of there.

“Aren’t you gonna wait for your tip, boss?”

Hell, no.

 

93)  Another candidate for Mother of the Year: The moron on the thirty-second floor who allowed her twelve-year-old son to bring his camping axe into the hotel.

What could possibly go wrong?

94)  The drunken high school chick who got blind stinking drunk one Friday night and somehow made her way down to the hotel’s basement, where she passed out in the laundry sorting room – directly below the chute.

You can see where this is going, right? Let’s just say she woke up pretty damn quick once enough laundry piled up on her. She scared the spit out of a couple of Mexican laundry workers when she started to get up and stumble around while covered in white sheets and mumbling like a creature of the night.

I’m pretty sure they both ran back to the border that very night.

95)  Dakota, the dog whose home flooded two months ago and has been a fixture around the hotel ever since. Dakota will be leaving us soon and that’s good, since “Big D” needs a yard to run around in, but it sucks for all of us and our guests since we all love having him around. Then again, Dakota has been going stir-crazy lately and has taken to diving up at his mistress in an attempt to eat her face, so maybe it’s time for a change in scenery?

And doggie downers?

96)  That crazy Shih Tzu that kept charging that “other crazy pup” it kept seeing in one of the full-length mirrors in the lobby. The best part of this story was the equally-crazy Asian woman who kept shouting, “How cute! You go, Princess!” every time her little doggie nearly bashed it’s brains out against the mirror.

97)  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who were beyond incensed when the Front Desk inadvertently put the kibosh on their sting operation. The RCMP had rented a room to spy on the suite next door which was apparently occupied by some nefarious types, who may have known the jig was up, and so they switched rooms.

Sadly, this didn’t lead to a high-stakes showdown or any gun play. But you can’t have everything, right?

98)  The other hotel sting operation. The Niagara Regional Police aren’t extremely Chatty Cathys so I don’t have all the details, but here’s a quick rundown:

  •  There were hookers arriving at and departing the hotel in large numbers. (I’m not sure but I think the plural for large numbers of hookers might be “hooki”.)
  •  Several men in different vehicles arrived shortly thereafter; they weren’t staying in the hotel but requested parking.
  •  Several police officers ad detectives swarmed the deck as soon as the men went upstairs; the cops insisted the valet drivers leave the cars on deck so they could record the license plates and search the cars. (Don’t ask me about whether or not the cops had warrants. I don’t argue with people who have mace and guns.)
  •  The hotel was getting slammed so the valet drivers argued against leaving all those cars on deck.
  •  The valets lost.
  •  Various law enforcement agents proceeded to the rooms in question.
  •  Arrests were made.
  • Turns out the hookers were acting as drug mules, their pimps were acting as dealers, and the cops were acting as cops.

Being a bellman may not always pay much, but at least it keeps me out of jail.

99)  Reader’s Choice. Yes, you read that correctly! I’m putting the power back in your hands, friends! Everyone has a favorite Hook adventure they like to revisit at those moments when the mind is prone to wandering, like at the birth of your first child or during a disappointing sexual encounter.

So it’s up to you, readers, search your memory, find a story I haven’t recounted here and say to yourself, “That looks good… I think I’ll throw that sucker in this space!”

And yes, that is what she said, actually.

 

100)  Rockin’ Ronnie. No list of my unforgettable encounters as a bellman would be complete without mentioning my rock ‘n roll bellman-brother-in-arms, Ron Stevens. I’ve written extensively about Ronnie in the past and honestly, it would be impossible to pick one story to feature here, but many of you have asked to see the man himself, so here’s a clip of my fallen brother in action alongside other members of his extended family.

Every damn day, Ronnie.  Every damn day…

See you in the lobby, kids…

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The Hook’s Top One Hundred: Part Three.

I’m not usually one to wax nostalgic, or anything else for that matter, but as my wife often says, “I’m really not into this anymore… but we’ve already started so we might as well finish.”

51)  The blonde Return Guest (a frequent flyer of the hotel set) with comic book sized breasts (male comic book artists tend to draw their female characters with chests that defy gravity and good taste) and the same blue mini skirt that she wears regardless of the weather. Her legs were as blue as her skirt the last time I saw her. Canada gets cold, kids.

52)  The jackass I just served who arrived in a t-shirt and shorts. In March. To make matters more interesting, his “luggage” consisted of a laundry basket and a hamper… of dirty clothes.

 

THE HOOK: YEAR ONE.

53)  My first job as a bellman was for a company that owned two properties on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls. One of them, the Quality Inn, had a wing that bordered a small treeline directly across from the Niagara river. Raccoons would often scale the trees and dive onto the balconies – and into the coolers that, despite our warnings, guests would keep on their balcony. The furry little bandits would often be interrupted and their screeches could be heard for miles.

Urban wildlife rocks.

 

54)  The Quality Inn had an outdoor pool and a playground; one winter I caught a couple that decided fooling around on the kiddie slide would be fun. And it may very well have been.

But the frostbite on their butts sure wasn’t.

55)  Speaking of outdoor sexy shenanigans, time for an abridged version of a tale I’ve told before. A trophy wife once hooked up with one of my fellow bellmen as her hubby sat in the room, completely oblivious to his spouse’s deception.

The act itself was forbidden by company standards, but to make matters worse, Trophy Wife decided the hood of her spouse’s prized automobile was the perfect spot to do the dirty deed. They would’ve gotten away with it too… if not for that meddling bellman who would someday be known as The Hook. I deduced that Trophy Wife’s shapely backside fit perfectly into the dent her extramarital activities produced.

Holmes has nothing on me.

56)  The coolest thing about being a bellman at a two-hotel property with rooms that were accessible from outside? The golf carts the bellmen used to shuttle between hotels and to escort guests to their rooms. Of course, it’s not cool when a bellman runs his cart right into a Japanese bus tour.

It’s not cool, but it sure was hilarious. And no, I wasn’t the bellman in question; I’d never do that.

I ran my cart off-road and down a steep hill after being distracted by a bevy of California beauties. How I managed to keep the cart from tipping over as I descended, I’ll never know.

57)  The foursome from parts unknown. The driver picked up the girls along the way, they in turn, picked up the other guy. The driver got blind stinking drunk but somehow managed to drive hundreds of miles to Niagara. He ran into the building while puling up to the hotel’s front entrance, so he tipped me forty bucks to play valet driver at a hotel that didn’t offer valet parking.

58)  There was a Golden Griddle located on the property in question and one day, while I was escorting a mountain of a man and his hotter-than-hot girlfriend to their car, a distinct smell crossed my path.

ME: Do you smell bacon, folks? I smell bacon!

HIM:  Is that supposed to be fuckin’ funny?

ME:  (In obvious fear of my life.)  Uh, no…

HER:  (In a super condescending tone)  Uh, he’s a police officer… and he doesn’t find that funny!

ME:  Well… I’m a bellman and I actually smell bacon! Most likely from the breakfast menu at the Golden Griddle!

BOTH:  Oh!

I understand if this image makes you take a bacon break…

 

59)  The second hotel on the property I made my first home-away-from-home at was actually very cool in the sense that it contained some fascinating nooks and crannies. Like the closet at the end of one of the halls that sat directly beside a room.

Let me tell you, air vents are the windows to hotel coitus, and overhearing hotel coitus is never boring, kids.

60)  One of the first bellmen that ever trained me was an old school Italian gentleman named Louie. Like any seasoned veteran from a certain era, Louie had a routine that he had perfected over time: his sometimes-limp became more pronounced when carrying luggage. This of course led to larger tips and my eternal admiration.

61)  Jim was another veteran bellman who taught me the ropes. He was also as strong as an ox. I one put his strength to the test and loaded a suitcase with bricks – which Jim lifted like they were foam blocks. He also taught me how to put your palm out for a tip without being too obvious about it.

It pays to have a mentor, children. Literally.

62)  My first two years as a bellman opened my eyes to what should’ve been an obvious truth about the hospitality industry. I should have realized that putting people together for hours a day and moths at a time while surrounding them with beds and closets filed with linens is going to lead to one thing and one thing only.

If it isn’t obvious by now, I’m talking about sex.

I’ve seen staff members hook up in:

  •  Handicapped washrooms.
  •  Darkened reservation offices.
  •  Change rooms.
  •  The aforementioned linen closets.
  •  Breakfast nooks.
  •  On dining room tables.
  •  On laundry folding tables and industrial size washing machines.
  •  A giant fiberglass whale.
  •  Those golf carts I mentioned.
  •  Guest room beds… minutes before a guest checks in.
  •  Pretty much any out-of-the-way spot two bodies can press together to form the Beast With Two Backs.

 

ALL THE YOUNG DUDES PUNKS.

63)  Those three young punks from Vancouver who walked all around for three days saying, “Que pasta, man!” in thick, horribly-offensive Mexican accents.

64)  The two young Jewish punks from Queens who ordered themselves two even-younger hookers on a Wednesday night and then came back Thursday, bragging, “Hey, Mr. Bellguy… those girls from last night are going out with us again… for free! For free!”

They two took the girls out to dinner and for drinks. They bought them jewellery and clothes.

Define “free”, fellas.

65)  Young punks are not only great for blog fodder, they’re walking PSAs for birth control; like the young punk that was so obsessed with his new smokinh hot girlfriend he loaded his car in an instant and sped off down the valet deck so fast he almost hit three people. We were glad to see him go, to say the least.

Until we realized he left his two toddlers in the lobby on a bench. We seriously considered adopting the kids rather than return them to an obviously messed up situation.

66)  All the young punks who engaged in a brawl in the lobby one hot summer’s night. Only in Niagara Falls would metal tissue covers become weapons of urban warfare. 

67)  The punk who ran into my cart with his corvette.

68)  The female punk (yes, they have those now) who was swinging her bags so wildly she hit me right in my… male identity.

69)  The young punk couple who decided dry humping in the corner of the lobby during the peak of the Sunday morning departure period – while a group of kids watched – was a great idea.

And speaking of dry humping and other public softcore shenanigans…

 

DRY HUMPING AND OTHER SOFTCORE PUBLIC SHENANIGANS.

70)  The couple who got it on in the men’s washroom on the hotel’s  mezzanine level decided against the conventional route and opted for the counter – while his friend watched. Seriously, his buddy was right there but they just kept going until Security showed up.

71)  Elevators seem like the ideal place to start a coital encounter but people tend to forget the average trip is ninety seconds. And you can forget about hitting the emergency stop button, those are only accessible with a key. Of course, that doesn’t stop guests from trying; in fact, there are so many travelers who try to mess around in the hotel’s elevators that I’m grouping them all together.

I salute your moxie, your horny devils.

 

72)  It was never confirmed but one couple (he was old, she definitely wasn’t) appeared to be father and daughter, though I sincerely hope they weren’t… because they were all over each other on the valet deck. Honestly, the resemblance was uncanny – and highly disturbing.

 73)  The Irish lesbians who made out in front of – and on – the valet desk in the lobby. They apologized to the attendant when they finally came up for air but they should’ve apologized to me; they finished five minutes before I started work.

 

KIDS WHO SHOULDN’T BE ANYWHERE NEAR THE ROOM PHONES.

But who get their grubby little digits on them nevertheless. Parents who let their rug rats call down to the Bell Desk for the luggage obviously think it’s a cute experience for the bellmen.

But it isn’t.

It can be fun for this bellman though…

74)  Like the time I told a particularly-pixie-like six-year-old that she needed to have milk and cookies ready for me when I arrived. “Just like with Santa?” she asked.

Indeed.

Sure enough, she insisted her parents order some chocolate chip cookies and a pitcher of milk from room service, ASAP.

They were delicious.

75)  Another rug rat, this one was demonic rather than pixie-like, was ridiculously-nasty on the phone.

“And you better not lose my shit like they did at the last hotel! Or my mommy will sue you!””

But I took it in stride. I told her if she didn’t tip the bellmen, a large, ravenous troll with a hunger for faces would be released from the closet at midnight.

Easiest twenty bucks I ever made.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m knackered! Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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