This post has been years in the making.
Every year at this time I struggle with my true feelings concerning the annual “Sleep Cheap Charities Reap” event in Niagara Falls. Known simply as Sleep Cheap, this event is simple: participating local hotels and attractions offer their rooms/services/wares to residents at ridiculously-low prices, with 100% of the funds going to various charities. The project has been running for over a decade and has raised more than one million dollars for those in need.
That’s not exactly pocket change, is it?
But no project/event is all things to all people… people.
The truth of the matter is, the Sleep Cheap project achieves great things and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and city council should be commended for their tireless effort setting this project up. But if you work in the hospitality industry the words “sleep” and “cheap” have a significant effect when put together.
Personally, I spend the entire week shuddering. If I’m lying you can make me change Donald Trump’s toupée. I quietly vibrate like a paint mixer for five days.
Just imagine seeing your mother-in-law naked. Now multiply that feeling by a million. That’s how I feel about Sleep Cheap at times.
I know what you’re thinking:
- “Aren’t you risking being publicly ostracized, Hook?”
- “Why exactly do you feel this way, Hook?”
- “What did the world ever do to deserve the Kardashians, Hook?”
All good queries deserving of an answer. (Glad I thought of them.)
- I’ve been ostracized all my life. One develops a thick skin as a result. (Granted, one also gets beat up a lot by constantly referring to oneself as “one”.)
- I’m getting to this one. Be patient, Grasshopper.
- Hey, I’m a reasonably intelligent man (just don’t ask my wife to confirm that), but I’m not God.
Now, let’s get to number two. (Yes, I said “number two”. Grow up.) My issues with Sleep Cheap can be summed up relatively easily…
1) Thousands of hard-working, decent, perfectly normal residents of Niagara Falls take part in Sleep Cheap every year.
I never get to deal with those people.
Instead, every year my brethren and I have to deal with some of the rudest, most foul-tempered citizens this fine metropolis contains. They swear like drunken truckers. They literally shove their way through the lobby. They cheat on their taxes while simultaneously kicking puppies. (Hey, you never know.) Honestly, some of these folks make Hitler look like a humanitarian. Yes, I went there; it’s all about the humor, people. Shelve your reservations and yuk it up.
2) If your hotel has a pool, you can expect a week where your lifeguards become babysitters. Many of these folks leave their spawn to ferment in the pool until their flesh is a deep shade of blood. Seriously, I’ve seen it. Granted, “regular” guests are guilty of this sin as well, but we see more of it during Sleep Cheap week.
3) Employee morale takes a beating during Sleep Cheap. Just imagine me taking on Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield – then triple that. I have colleagues who specifically book this entire week off. (The genius bastards.) Naturally, housekeepers suffer the most; these folks aren’t paid enough all year, but they sure as hell aren’t paid enough to clean up after people who are paying next-to-nothing for rooms and who simply don’t care about the devastation they leave in their wake.
And speaking of paying next-to-nothing for rooms…
4) “Sleep Cheapers”, as they’re known in my biz, NEVER, EVER tip. They’re paying virtually nothing (which, no matter how you slice it, is a helluva deal), but still they refuse to part with a few dollars for a gratuity. Many of them rarely take a bellman’s help, but those who do only do so very reluctantly. Serving Sleep Cheapers reminds me of my high school dating years; I wind up feeling ridiculously-unsatisfied and groaning in pain.
5) The entire event ends up costing the hotel money. Management honestly doesn’t mind giving up a chunk of change in the off-season to help charity, but they could do without the repair costs that will inevitably arise every year.
Remember that scene in Caddyshack when the caddies take over the pool for an afternoon? If you’re like some of my younger, culturally-starved colleagues who have never seen one of the greatest comedies of all time, then open a new window, Google as fast as you can (without going blind), and come back when you’ve been enlightened.
All done? Good, then we can continue.
Again, most Sleep Cheapers leave the rooms relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, not everyone is as respectful and so the hotel’s Maintenance staff spends the days after Sleep Cheap cursing their very collective existence and career choices.
To wrap thus mutha up (as Queen Latifah would say), Sleep Cheapers rarely eat in the hotel’s restaurants, take tours or make any purchases from the gift shop and so every department takes a hit. This is to be expected, of course, but simply put, it still sucks. Overall, Sleep Cheap does more good than harm for Niagara Falls. I just wish the results didn’t come at the expense of the few hairs I have left on my head.
Well, I don’t know about you, but it feels pretty good to finally get that off my not-quite-manly-chest. My apologies to mayor Jim Diodati; I know Sleep Cheap is your baby and you’re a proud papa (which you should be), but you know I’m a straight shooter and I just had to finally tell it like it is.
To every ying there is a yang. To every dark, a light. To every good Sleep Cheaper there is a not-so-good Sleep Cheaper who makes me drive around Niagara Falls searching for a good place to dump and bury a body. Or twelve.
I just pray I meet a few this year.
See you in the lobby, kids…
Sleep Cheap Charities Reap runs from November 8 to November 12 this year in Niagara Falls. In the last eleven years Sleep Cheap Charities Reap has raised over $1,400,000. Niagara residents can get more info here. However, if you truly love me, you’ll stay home and simply write a big check to a Niagara charity. It’s what Jesus would do.