Alcohol has rarely touched my lips, but it nevertheless has played a pivotal role in my ongoing life journey.
My grandfather, a central figure in my life, was an alcoholic.
My stepfather, a man who inadvertently steered the course of my life by attempting to hold me under his thumb, was an alcoholic.
And I deal with alcoholics virtually every day as a bellman.
Case in point: on a cold September morning an 84-year-old drunken golfer – his travel mug wasn’t fooling anyone, the fumes emanating from his lips were highly combustible – had absconded with one of my luggage carts and rolled through the lobby and across the Valet Deck like an intoxicated laboratory monkey. But to be clear, not like a drunken lab monkey you’d want to hang out with at a Taylor Swift concert.
None of my colleagues that morning hated themselves enough to confront this Dick Cheney lookalike – his sunken eyes, hollow cheeks and frail arms screamed “LIFETIME BOOZE HOUND” – so it fell to me to play Repo Bellman and retrieve our equipment, a task I’ve taken on hundreds of times over the years.
I followed him from a safe distance and watched as he met up with a group of friends who simply stood around chatting like old biddies at a bingo tournament while their friend – who was clearly overwhelmed by the simple act of standing, never mind loading a vehicle – proceeded to engage in a comedy routine that would have been golden had it not been so pathetic.
He would lift a bag from the cart. The bag would drop to the ground as he involuntarily released his grip. His friends would giggle like school girls and return to their conversation about golf scores and Viagra, or whatever old letches talk about. Said bag would be picked up and thrown into the back of the vehicle in one jerky motion.
Time travels at ridiculously reduced speeds when one is observing a drunken baggage handler and so by the time he was done a week had passed. Finally though, the time had arrived for me to retrieve my cart and get back to work.
Employing a subdued tone (for once), I addressed my inebriated friend and his allies: “All set, gentlemen? Can I take this back now?” I walk a fine line when dealing with guests whose temperaments rumble with volcanic intensity. Most of the time my efforts pay off and I safely avoid confrontations.
But not this morning. No, this morning was different; someone was wearing his cranky pants.
“Aren’t you a little old to be a BELLBOY?”
I can only assume he felt emphasizing “boy”, would impress his partners-in-crime. He was correct, they laughed like a pack of jackals on crack.
If I was truly my grandfather’s progeny, I would have punched him in the throat, taken back my cart and retrieved a sizable tip from his wallet as he lay wheezing at my feet in a puddle of his own urine. But as a bellman I’m bound by very specific rules and a code of conduct designed to prevent our guests from ending their stay in an emergency room.
(I have to say, whoever wrote that code was a real killjoy.)
However, as my grandfather’s grandson I have the impulse to push back against the tide whenever it threatens to bowl me over hard-wired into my DNA, so I met his measure – and then some.
“Aren’t you a little old to be drunk at 8:30 in the morning?”
I said I was restricted by certain rules, I never said I was married to them.
See you in the lobby, kids…