31 Things No One Ever Told You About Being A Bellman.

The icy, unfeeling, unrelenting grip of wintertide has tested my soul as it never has before, numbing my fingers and freezing my mind’s processes in place for moments that stretch to hours.

However, hope springs everlasting. It certainly doesn’t feel like it at the moment, but the spirit of summer is waiting in limbo to live and thrive again, my friends.

Not only does summer’s return signal a new chapter of my ongoing saga and a desperately-needed rejuvenation of my financial well-being, it also brings with it a new crop of hospitality worker wannabes. To those applicants among you, I have the following portents to impart. Heed them or be subject to ridicule and suffering.

1)  In the hospitality hierarchy, bellmen reign supreme. Okay, to be honest, servers, as long as they’ve been fortunate enough to score a position in a high-end dining room, are at the top of the food chain. But servers are a different breed all-together. It requires real skill to serve food to an ungrateful populace in an efficient, charming manner. Bellmen are the less-accomplished-but-super-cool cousins to servers.

(Let the debate begin.)

2)  You’ll need to spend a pretty penny on a pair of well-constructed shoes. Or several pairs of poorly-constructed pairs of footwear. The choice is yours. Either way, you’re going to spend more time on your feet pacing back and forth than a call girl on a lonely stretch of  urban hell, so be ready.

3)  If you’re not comfortable being the center of attention for bewildered guests scrambling about a hotel lobby, run. Run hard. Run fast.

4)  You’re going to have to learn to be comfortable as an updated version of the Invisible Man. When you’re a bellman, no one ever sees you coming – even when you’re in the room delivering luggage. It’s not personal. It’s human nature.

5)  Expect the unexpected. That’s fact, not hyperbole.

(I was tempted to say “That’s the cold hard truth”, but the fact is, truth has no temperature, nor is it rigid or flaccid. It simply is. My apologies to Kevin O’Leary.)

6)  Bellmen often say “Never a dull moment!” while dealing with the rigors of the job, but there are dull moments to be had. And how. The downtime will try your patience more than an evening at a strip club accompanied by your mother-in-law.

7)  You’re going to see more hookers than a twenty-year veteran of the NYPD vice squad.

8)  You’re going to hear people – and the odd animal – having sex. Hotel room walls are basically tissues with wallpaper slapped on by the lowest bidder.

9)  You’re going to see people – and sorry, but yes, the odd animal – having sex.

10)  Being able to pack fifteen bags into a trunk designed to hold five is a required skill for any bellmen worth his salt. You’ll hear “It’s just like Tetris, right?”, so often you’ll become immune to the words and a weak smile will simply appear on your face instinctively.

11)  You’ll learn to fake your emotions so expertly you’ll put this chick to shame…

12) An irrefutable truth will become clear almost instantly:

People are capable of anything.

13)  Muzak is the Devil’s creation – and Ole Lucifer is charge of programming what you hear in hotel lobbies and elevators.

14)  Facial recognition skills that put an FBI profiler to shame are necessary to ensure returning guests feel extraordinary.

15)  Discretion is key when dealing with returning guests who feel it necessary to bring their mistress and spouse to the same hotel on a regular basis. I once had a colleague who was literally shoved out of a room by a panic-stricken wife who refused to risk her sugar daddy’s wrath because some impudent bellman had the audacity to recognize her.

16)  The moment will come when you’re forced to choose between making a buck and following the rules.

17)  If you’re inclined to choose the love of money over the rules of the house and your own principles, stop reading now.

18)  A guest will ask you to to procure a bottle of liquid ambrosia long after the bars and taverns have closed. They may ask for nourishment after room service packs it in for the night. They may even ask you to secure an item of a living nature. The possibilities are endless. 

19)  In some cases following your conscience can actually be synonymous with making a buck, providing you can live with yourself afterwards. As always, the choice is yours.

20)  You will encounter gamblers, some of the softcore variety, others of the “How much will you give me for Little Sally’s prosthetic arm? I’m on a hot streak!” variety.  Gamblers are ridiculously bi-polar; you’ll consider yourself fortunate to be in their orbit when they arrive and if they hit it big – and you’ll curse fate when they leave under the dark cloud that surrounds all those whom chance has chosen not to shine on. In other words, duck and cover when a hardcore gambler loses his sweaty, free martini-stained shirt.

21)  There will be days you’ll wish you could wish every guest in your radar away to that cornfield Rod Serling introduced us to all those years ago.

(If you are now consulting Google to determine who Rod Serling is… stop reading.)

22)  There will be days you’ll wish you could wish yourself away to that cornfield.

23)  Guests will ask you to transport items other than luggage on your bell cart. Babies – both in and out of carriers – kids of all ages, drunken bridesmaids, goldfish, hamsters, dead, frozen cats (all will be explained in Book Two, trust me), antlers, and a million other items too bizarre to consider. Just go with it.


24)  YOU ARE NOT A BABYSITTER!  Never deliver luggage to a room filled with children and no adults. Never take possession/responsibility for children while parents check-in or disappear to wherever irresponsible douchcopters disappear to. There are times when it sucks to watch your own kids, never mind those who do not share your DNA, so don’t do it! Never mind the size of the promised tip, stay away from situations like this:

25)  Cougars are going to grab your ass. Get over it.

26)  Cougars are going to attempt to squeeze your crotch like they’re picking out fruit. Don’t let them! Unless there’s BIG money involved – then you can go nuts, so to speak.

27) You’ll be carrying bags with all sorts of items that buzz, vibrate and move in a variety of ways. Ignore these bags, even if they shake their way across the storage shelves.

28)  Know when to draw the line; never ask the following question: “How was your stay?” This may run counter to your training, but trust me on this one; my uniform has decade-old bloodstains that tell the tale.

29)  If you’re married, don’t tell your wife where rule #26 came from or I’ll kill ya.

30)  It will be your duty to move items from one room to another while the guest is off doing whatever guests do. There will be “packages” – some will be hidden in places like the back of toilets – that will need to be moved discreetly. The word discretion is the cornerstone of our business. Learn it. Live it. (Strange advice coming from a blogging bellman, I know. But do as I say, not as I do, and you’ll be fine. It takes decades to achieve my level of hypocrisy, kids.)

31)  You’re going to meet many a veteran like myself. (You’ll call us “old pricks” or some other term of endearment.) We may be full of ourselves but we know what we’re talking about and sooner or later, you will too, ya young prick!

One list will never sufficiently cover all there is to say and do as a bellman – but it’s a start.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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.
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124 Responses to 31 Things No One Ever Told You About Being A Bellman.

  1. You’re a better man than I to endure in such a professional life, Hook. You’ve earned respect for bellmen everywhere with this post.

  2. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Now, is being a cougar about the age and the look, or just the age? I need to find out for a…friend.

  3. djmatticus says:

    Ah, such a glamorous life…
    It sounds so very tempting. You sell it so well. 😉

  4. TJLubrano says:

    I’m getting curiouser and curiouser here, Hook. You can’t ask “How was your stay?”…Bags that move, buzz…walk around?

    Goodness. There are stories within stories happening right under your nose!

    • The Hook says:

      “How was your stay?” opens up the possibility of a rant from a guest that ends with yours truly in charge of fixing the situation. Which I cannot. Because I have no power whatsoever.

      As for the buzzing bags, TJ… Well, to be blunt, those bags usually contain self-pleasuring devices with hair triggers. Enough said?

      • TJLubrano says:

        Ah yeah totally understand why you wouldn’t ask that. I think it’s something I’d really had to learn not ask as I’m a tad too polite at times. Man! You just ruined my own magical pondering here. Stupid buzzing bags.

        (I kinda knew it already though. Hehe)

      • The Hook says:

        Of course you did.. you’re a smart cookie!

      • TJLubrano says:

        Why thank you! *goes to the kitchen to find some cookies*

      • dave says:

        At my hotel, because of my location and clientele, if I ask ‘how was your stay’ or upon arrival ‘hey, good luck! here for some fun?’ (I’m in Las Vegas) we will 40% of the time get “I’m here for a funeral” so we just stopped doing it.

  5. It’s always been strange to me what people ‘hide’ from the public, but you’re waiting on them, it’s like you’re invisible and you get to see everything. CRAZY

  6. Honestly speaking, I did not expect some of these. So much more respect for bellmen from all of us now 🙂

  7. hellokalykitty says:

    Ya know, I had to google 21. And I didn’t stop reading lol. I enjoyed the post, love the twilight zone and learned something new. 🙂

  8. #7: Again, this is why I was after that job Hooky.

  9. elenamusic says:

    So, what you’re telling me is that you’re the Terminator? “Facial-recognition skills, transport items… you can turn invisible, faking emotions…” Never a dull moment, huh?

  10. janeybgood says:

    This animals having sex thing has me intrigued…and scared. And also, ditto about the Muzak. *shudder*

  11. I bet Number 32 will be a hoot! 😀

    Re: Movie Script….I know a screenwriter. He lives just up I-95 from me in Bangor. I can introduce you to him if you like. He has actual movie credits and everything.

  12. Steph says:

    Next time I’m in a hotel, the bellman is going to think I’m nuts, cause I’m sure I’ll be staring at him like a psychopath, wondering about the horrors he’s seen.

  13. Veronica says:

    Ahh, bags that buzz across the shelves, (my mind is buzzing at the thought), looking after other peoples kids, uh oh, and crazy cougars, all equate to never a dull moment – why do you have to leave so many choices for comments here, I’m lost.
    I will say you and the servers are completely on par even though they’re at the top and you’re at the bottom of the same pole, you both serve the ungrateful public for pittance.

  14. joannesisco says:

    Whew! I’m so relieved not to have seen myself in any of those escapades 🙂

  15. Jennifer says:

    So much fun to be had in the hotel, and that’s just your job. Imagine the stories from everyone else…

    • The Hook says:

      I’m the only one with a blog but you’ve got me thinking, Jennifer. i should turn to my fellows for their adventures. Could be interesting..

  16. Tom Merriman says:

    Hook, I don’t have a very good memory, so when I read points (what were they again?… scrolls up and scrolls back down again…) 14 and 15 I knew instantly I’d make a terrible bellman.

  17. kerbey says:

    Aggressive cougars, frozen cats, and cornfields–oh, my!

  18. jlheuer says:

    Very tempting. What’s the uniform like? Do I have to wear a pill box hat?

  19. OK – that’s it, I’m on the next plane. There are things that just beg to be seen with one’s own eyes. I may need to bleach them after, but still…..

    • P.S. I know someone not in Hollywood, but who would make a show up here if the pitch were written well enough. I do think you have something here Robert. and I do know that someone would be willing to look at something if you’re up for it. (My email add is on my page if you’d like to chat a little).

      • The Hook says:

        Sounds great, Robyn.
        I’m trying to help my daughter with her book project right now and I’d never be able to live with myself if let her down, but I’ll be in touch soon.
        Thanks for being so supportive.

      • No worries about when or if you want to look into something; and if I can’t be a person who knows someone who knows someone at this point in my life, then well, what good am I? 😉

      • The Hook says:

        You’re plenty good, Woman!
        I rarely give out seals of approval but you definitely qualify!
        (By the way, have a tank ready for your seal when he arrives; his name is Mort.)

      • I shall rename him Morty. Send fish too.

  20. Eva says:

    If it’s worth anything, I laughed my arse off.

  21. Dealing with the human race… an absolute impossible, but not for you! Chapeau, my friend! 🙂

  22. I was only ever approached by a hooker once. Really! It was in Atlantic City. She asked me if I wanted a “date” and I thought she was serious. I thought she thought I was cute. What a moron!

    Have you really been asked to mind someone else’s children? Or is that one of your witty sarcasms?

  23. I’m still planning to meet you in that lobby some day!!

  24. maurnas says:

    Your job really does sound better and better. I also get groped at my job (and no, I’m not a stripper or escort). And I hate being touched. So. Much.

  25. That’s a lot of less-than-favourable-human-failings to juggle. 😦

  26. Daile says:

    You have all the secrets Hook. I couldn’t do it, I’d probably most struggle with the ‘be invisible’ part but I wouldn’t mind the occasional crotch grab 😉

  27. It’s like another day at the circus – so colourful, crazy, with animals and what nots. LOL

  28. bardictale says:

    Visibility is overrated. Did they fix the hole in the wall yet?

  29. So how much should I tip a bellman for bringing my frozen cat collection to the room?

  30. Great list, Hook? That clip from Four Rooms was hysterical. I can’t figure out why I’m not familiar with the movie.

  31. The Cutter says:

    All that AND cougars grab your ass??? Where do I sign up?

  32. Go for the good shoes – those feet have to last a lifetime. Your sense of humor seems to be endless, thank goodness
    All the hotel room antics and delightful tourist tales are making me consider getting an airstream trailer and avoiding those hotel beds, carpets and showers…sticky, so sticky and …what is that? (no don’t tell me)
    Grins as always, Hook. Invisible is sometimes good

  33. Great list!
    I have several hotel stays coming up in the next couple of months, and honestly, I’m a bit freaked out after having followed your blog, I’m learning way too much about what goes on in a hotel!
    But I love it! 🙂

  34. So….who is Rod Serling? I would’ve looked it up myself, but then I would’ve had to stop reading…

  35. bethteliho says:

    haha I laughed throughout this, and then cringed, and then laughed again. I know people are CAHrazy and capable of anything, so I cannot even imagine a life of being exposed (literally, evidently) to all humans are capable of.

  36. Paul says:

    Wow. It is fascinating to see the real life behind the job. Truly Hook, this is book material.

  37. smkay70 says:

    I will never look at a bellboy the same again. I may have to grab an ass next time I see one. I believe my age qualifies me as a cougar. After all, they will be expecting it and I don’t want to let anyone down.

  38. curvyroads says:

    Hook, I was at a family gathering last weekend at a large hotel in a southern city, and I must tell you, your stories (and tolerance) of the people you encounter have given me a whole new outlook on my fellow guests. And inspired some creative stories over drinks at the bar that faced the elevator bank. 😀

  39. Man I love this. I’m starting a bellman job next week so keep on blogging, bro. Lol

    • The Hook says:

      Good luck with the new job, bro.

      Chat people up as often as possible while paying attention to everything around you, and you’ll never be bored.

  40. Somnipod says:

    I actually have an interview today for a weekend bellman position.
    I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t even know how to dress for this.
    I have a full time job during the week, and this is a really swanky resort in the Austin area.
    Thanks for this blog.
    We will see how the interview goes.

    • The Hook says:

      Good luck!
      By the way, you can never go wrong dressing professionally and never forget to be yourself and emphasize your customer service skills and above all, your ability to handle pressure!

  41. JOHN says:

    Been doing this gig now for two weeks. Have a good mentor though, and his tips are just like yours. Right on.
    How about this though… Valet company has come in and they are seriously encroaching. Do we run them out? A lot of rich people, but nobody wants to tip twice, what should us bellman do?

  42. Thanks to you, HOok, I now have a phobia about staying in US hotels. Which works out alright, since I haven’t left Oz in a while, but…Really, animals having sex?

  43. StillWaters says:

    Good grief!! All this is enough to make one’s head spin.

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