HOOK’S NOTE: A little rehash for you today. I’ve covered this topic before, but Fan Expo Canada comes in like a nerdy wrecking ball this week, summer is winding down and I’m just plain knackered, so here we go again, with some new wrinkles added in for good measure…
A bellman isn’t just the guy you toss a few coins/bills at in the hope he’ll go away quickly after delivering your belongings to your room. He isn’t just the guy who curses your entire existence if you stiff him. He’s so much more. A bellman has layers, baby. He wears many hats, you crazy cats.
When necessary, a bellman is…
1) A human pin cushion. Hotels are open to everyone – if they cough up the requisite amount of coin, of course – and so I have to deal with, among others, hardcore gamblers who live on the razor’s edge. Working in close proximity to a casino means my path will cross with various representatives of this demographic at least once a day. These souls are at the mercy of the flick of a dealer’s wrist or worse, the outcome of a pre-programmed slot machine. One wrong turn and these folks can be down tens of thousands (or more).
And guess who they’ll take their frustrations out on?
But you have to take it, that’s the job. Of course, anyone with even a passing familiarity of The Hook knows he does not suffer fools lightly. To say the least. But over the years I’ve taken more than I’ve dished out. To say the least again.
2) The willing prey of cougars on the hunt. Wait, scratch that. Let’s be honest: if they’re conscious, cougars are always on the hunt. That’s what makes them cougars in the first place, right?
Again, I’m willing to take it in stride; at least cougars are rarely miserable. I’m willing to engage in some harmless flirting as long as it means my pants will swell a little. (With tips, I mean. grow up.) And so I let them fling their stares and tired lines in my direction. I let them get away with the odd “accidental” brush against my pasty-white person. In the end, it’s all grist for the blogging mill.
3) A master Tetris builder. Loading one’s trunk with luggage and shopping bags – especially when it’s half-full already – is no easy feat. Quite the contrary. The average traveler has a rough idea how to stuff their suitcases, duffels, garbage bags, laundry baskets, IKEA and Home Depot bags into their vehicle, but after nearly two decades, they don’t have my skill set.
(Not to mention, my charm.)
And trust me, when your family is dozy, hungry, cranky and ready to hit the road, you don’t have the time to spare packing your trunk. That’s when the bellman becomes a minor hero. I can stack bags like nobody’s business. Admittedly, that sounds dirty but it wasn’t intended as such.
4) A dodger of bullets. To clarify, a bellman will often be called upon to help others avoid bullets. Like when a longtime, repeat guest (who often travels alone), forgets about the hooker he arranged – on the same weekend he brought his wife with him to Niagara Falls.
Yes, that was a sticky wicket, indeed.
Fortunately, I’m well-trained when it comes to hooker-wrangling. And no, that wasn’t meant to be dirty.
5) A structural engineer. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve had to dissuade guests from copulating on furniture or in various locations throughout the hotel that would never support their combined weight? No, I haven’t done the actual math. (I hate math.)
6) The Housekeeping Department’s greatest ally. Believe it or not, I have a company-wide service award for going above and beyond with guests and my fellow wage slaves. It is not unusual in the least to see the doors of the service elevator open to reveal The Hook surrounded by dozens of garbage bags.
Yes, my life really is that glamorous, thank you very much.
7) Security’s unofficial sidekick. Obviously, I’m less-than-ineffective in a physical altercation but after seeing my height, most guests assume otherwise. Plus, I have an expansive, booming voice that can be quite intimidating – to everyone but my immediate family, including the dog.
8) A shoulder to cry on. To clarify: I’m quite tall so my shoulder isn’t quite accessible to most guests, but I do my best. The age of social media has transformed society into a place where individuals feel comfortable opening up to virtual strangers and so I’ve become someone who can give Dr. Phil a run for his money. Of course, I don’t have that cool ‘stache, but I am nearly bald so…
9) An “expert” on… pretty much anything. A seasoned bellman could give new brides tips on faking it. Period. Want to talk sports? I love your team! Hate the Kardashians? So do I! (For real this time.) You name it, I’ll gab with you about it until we’re both blue in the face.
10) The guy who can get you what you need. A good bellman will quickly realize he needs to be part concierge, part… everything else, really. Guests will often turn to the guy delivering their bags, away from the prying eyes and ears of the public – and law enforcement – to secure items that one would not ask for openly.
MALE BOSTONIAN GUEST: Hey, Boss… you know where I can get some marijuana? And maybe a girl?
ME: That depends, sir.. are you sure you want both? You sound a little uncertain about the female companionship.
MBG: What? No, no, no! I want the tail! (Guy was a real romantic, right?)
ME: Well, sir, I’ll tell you what: I can’t directly get you what you need… but I can point you in the right direction.
And so I did. Because that, kids is what a bellman does. He does whatever he has to.
Not quite a typical shift for me… but close.
See you in the lobby, kids…