What is a Bellman’s Greatest Asset?

It’s NOT his bell cart, arguably the most important component of the entire luggage delivery operation. I’ve delivered bags with an appliance dolly, a golf cart, a maid’s cart and at one archaic operation, by hand!

It’s not his roguish charm or encyclopedic knowledge of his environment. I have colleagues who spend twenty minutes with certain guests (while the rest of us pick up the slack!) and yet, they don’t make anywhere near as much as others when the tip is finally tendered. I’ve gotten fifty dollars from someone I barely speak to, and two dollars from some jackass I spend a half-hour with!  It’s all about the guest’s mood, not what you do to sway them.

No, my friends, a bellman’s greatest asset is a simple, yet invaluable component of his uniform: his shoes.  

Seriously.

I spend most of my day on my feet and in motion, on a seemingly endless cycle of departures and arrivals. Without a good, comfortable pair of shoes I’d be easily fatigued, my fortunes would plummet, my attitude would become even more surly (hey, it could happen trust me!) and eventually I’d lose my job, be unable to support Vampire Lover and Little Vamp, and wind up on the street!

Dramatic enough for you?

At this point you’re probably wondering two things..

  1. When is The Hook’s medication going to kick in?
  2. Why in the world is The Hook ranting and raving about shoes?

Well, I’ll tell you answer to #2. I need a new pair of shoes, but the problem is this: my current pair has a strong sentimental hold on me. Here’s why.

It was a midnight shift several years ago and this middle-aged couple approached me with an unusual request.

MALE GUEST: Hey, buddy, you know where I can get some dress shoes?

THE HOOK: It’s 1am, sir. Unfortunately this isn’t Vegas, where you can score anything at any time!

MG: But my girl wants to go dancing, and the club across the street turned us away! My Nikes aren’t fancy enough for ’em.

THE HOOK: I’d like to help you out sir, but…

MG: What size shoes do you wear, man?

THE HOOK: I’m a twelve, but..

MG: I’ll give you a $100 for your shoes!

And with that, he slapped the money down and after two seconds of contemplation on my part, we exchanged footwear. I wore my runners for the rest of the evening, fortunately without having to face disciplinary action. The happy couple returned a few hours later and since they weren’t my size, I returned the gentlemen’s shoes to him.

A week or so later, the housekeeping department sent a package to my desk: the guest had returned my shoes, clean as a  whistle! Even though I had a new pair by then, I threw them in my locker. You never know, right?

Sure enough, my new pair gave out a few months later and my “lucky shoes” were called back to active duty. I’ve logged a lot of miles in these babies, all of them interesting and blogworthy in some way. But my beloved shoes have reached their expiration date and it’s time to move on. Still, I can’t complain about a pair of shoes that literally made me money, right?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this nostalgic (and just plain weird!) post. Time to take my meds.

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
This entry was posted in Hotel Employees, Hotel Life, Humor, Life, Postaweek2011, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to What is a Bellman’s Greatest Asset?

  1. irratebass says:

    Great story and I can totally understand the sentimental aspect of the shoes.

  2. raisingdaisy says:

    WOW what a story! I can certainly understand why those shoes mean so much to you. I have a feeling those shoes saved more than just the Male Guest’s evening of dancing…. 😉

  3. Spectra says:

    I love that he had the shoes ‘detailed’, like a car, and sent them back to you. Once in a while, once in a great while, you get lucky and a customer improves your whole view of hospitality.

    But you’re right, it has everything to do with them, how they are already, and very little to do with the quality of your service. I used to get some of my best tips on nights when it was so busy, I barely spoke to my customers. And people I spent the most time with, offering a free tableside comedy routine to, often gave the worst tips…while smiling and saying such nice friendly things. It screws with your head.

  4. Ha. That’s funny, maybe you should have your lucky shoes plaqued or layered in gold.

  5. Oh nice and thoughtful of the guy. It must have been a shock when you got your shoes back 🙂 Just 1 persons thoughtful action can go a long way. You got some awesome shoes Mr Hook.

  6. Aaron Babcock says:

    I’m not being at all sarcastic when I say that a great pair of shoes is a wonderful thing and also something difficult to replace. And not only are yours comfortable, they’re also lucky! You’ll be hard-pressed to find replacements.

  7. Caroline says:

    That’s such a great story. I love that he polished the shoes and gave them back. What a nice gentleman. 🙂 Your job is always so unpredictable, but that’s half the fun sometimes, right?

  8. HoaiPhai says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to be able to buy the best damned general-purpose shoe for years but the last time I checked, they weren’t selling them any more. I hope I can find a replacement for my own lucky shoes once the health department condems the ones I’m wearing!

  9. brittany220 says:

    Nice story about the shoes! Maybe the next pair will bring you some luck as well? Who knows!

  10. TBM says:

    I am quite sentimental as well. I’m impressed that the guy went the extra step.

  11. penpusherpen says:

    I can well imagine that shoes (comfortable ones) are a number one requirement, Hook, and to be able to ‘hire out’ said shoes is an extra added unlooked for benefit. I hate having to say goodbye to comfy shoes, tears are shed you know? Takes ages to find just the ‘right’ pair. I think I might do an ode to my shoes soon. many thanks for sharing this very moving story. 😀 xPenx

  12. Androgoth says:

    A man in love with his shoes now what could be weird about that? lol of course it could have been a lot worse you know, that couple that you mentioned might have needed everything that you were standing up in and then what kind of a night would you have had?

    Well the guests wouldn’t be calling you Bellman for nothing you know, but then again you could have used a fig leaf… lol Have a great rest of day and good luck finding another pair of comfortable shoes…

    Androgoth

  13. Jo Bryant says:

    You could always broanze them for posterity. Hehehehehe

  14. Eric Sylvester says:

    It’s funny that I read this post today, as I fought my mom tooth and nail last night to not buy me any new shoes. I love the ones I have, ratty as they are, and there’s just something about an old pair of shoes that’s tough to let go. Great post, Hook!

  15. Jeanne Heuer says:

    Do you have a nifty uniform to go with your shoes?

  16. It must be nice to see the good in humanity after seeing a lot of detritus. Can you order the same pair online? Then you’ll *remember* the sentimental value? (I’m just all about shopping online because I despise shopping…)

    Happy weekend!

  17. That’s an awesome story! Hope you encounter more stories of good fortune such as this one in your future! 🙂

  18. jennygoth says:

    well hey cinderella lol he went to the ball great blog hope your next shoes fit like glove and your little pinkies stay snug and warm aww only teasing hook i once walked whitby on a goth weekend my feet in my platform boots were throbbing only the pink passions kept me from crying they dulled the pain vane or what lol xxjen

  19. granny1947 says:

    Can’t comment…still puzzling out jennygoth!!!

  20. I love it when these random encounters (and random this was!) lead to items that hold sway over us for years to come. I’m happy you shared the story behind these ones, because it’s a sweet (not weird!) story indeed. 🙂

  21. sonsothunder says:

    Oh dude, you aren’t off on a useless tare of words when talking shoes to me…I FEEL your pain.The kitchens I’ve worked, while the front of the house basks in serene candle light, soft music,and overall milieu of serenity…just behind those swinging doors we huddle on the one yard line like the Carolina Panthers were against the Arizona Cardinals defense yesterday in the opening NFL football game,hustling tooth and nail…( and foot ) to get that one plate across the line, and to the scoring table.

    ( The Panthers Failed to score by the way, but fought a valiant game @ an ending score of 28 to 21 Cardinals)

    There is a lot of heavy stuff taking place behind the scenes in a restaurant, with ovens loaded with 8 or10 pans @ 30 to 50 pounds each of beef brisquets, or ham, etc. Preparing, loading, and unloading such ovens takes the strength, stamina, and skill one could relate more to a linebacker than a lowly chef, or prep-cook at times, and on the greasy, impossible to even walk across floors,.. the proper “Shoes Are Everything”!!!

    God Bless You
    paul

  22. sonsothunder says:

    Just dropped by to Twitter the “B”, and farce book your post.
    Have a good one
    paul

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