Although it’s true that no two travelers are the same, thus ensuring that no two days of my life are the same, there are certain archetypes I’ll inevitably encounter more than once in my role as a bellman in Niagara Falls.
Let’s take a close look at these deliciously-flawed, all-too-real characters, shall we?
1) The Spoda. We’ll start with the most controversial label, just to get things really hoppin’. This term was coined by frustrated servers in the hotel’s penthouse restaurant many year sago. A Spoda is a traveler – most often an African-American – who feigns ignorance when it comes to the subject of tipping.
“Oh! I didn’t know I was ‘spoda tip you!”
Spodas have sent race relations in the hotel back sixty years. Quite a feat when you consider the hotel’s only been open sixteen years. They use a mask of well-intentioned ignorance to mask their skinflint nature, assuming no one would ever dare challenge them openly.
You can only imagine how they feel when they meet me, can’t you?
2) The Charlie Brown. This is the guy who can’t catch a break, even if he had a sledgehammer in a quarry. And no, I have no idea what that means, just go with it.
But back to this poor bastard. His family hates him. His car barely runs. He can barely make it from his vehicle to the Front Desk, never mind his room. In short, he’s as successful in life as I am in the writing game. And so I really don’t feel too bad when he inevitably stiffs me.
3) The Know-it-All. This one’s gender is irrelevant. Their background, ethnicity and geographical point of origin are also irrelevant. What matters is this: no matter what you tell the Know-it-All… you’ll be wrong.
If I give this guest directions to the room? KIA will have already planned the route out – whether they’ve ever stayed at the hotel or not.
If I recommend a restaurant? Well, you just know they recently discovered dozens of kitty corpses in that particular establishment, and so KIA will have a better idea in mind.
And of course, KIA will be an expert when it comes to packing a luggage cart, never mind the fact that I’ve literally packed a million carts (at least), I’m basically a window licker compared to KIA.
I hate KIAs.
4) The Weekend Girlfriend. To clarify, this particular traveler doesn’t exclusively work weekends, nor is she exclusive at all (unless the money’s right), but I coined the term a decade ago and it stuck. Much like this chick will stick to your crotch for the right price.
Yes, I’m being crude but I prefer to speak plainly when it comes to those souls who sell their physical affections to the highest bidder. I recognize that every hooker is someone’s little girl at heart and I feel for their circumstances, but most of the working girls I’ve met appear to have made a conscious decision to engage in this line of work and so all bets are off.
Most Weekend Girlfriends are ridiculously-aloof, even with their “boyfriend, John”, and so I rarely give them a second thought once I’ve uncovered their game. There are exceptions of course, and those girls are genuinely fun to serve.
It should be noted that the Weekend Girlfriend is often mistaken for our next Guest…
5) The “What the Hell is She doing with Him?” Girl. She is the pinnacle of female human perfection in virtually every way, while he defies human evolution by walking upright. In other words, she’s super hot and he’s… one lucky bastard. People think he’s paying good money for her company but they couldn’t be more wrong. And yes, there are degrees of wrong, folks.
But back to my point: it turns out the heart really wants what the heart wants. And yes, sometimes that desire is glorious but fleeting and in other instances, my wife has stuck around for over twenty years.
6) The Hardcore Gambler. Granted, I haven’t seen as many gamblers lately but they’re out there, kids. They have one rule: Keep rolling that dice… no matter what the cost. Relationships. A viable career. A productive place within society. All of these things are cast aside with barely a thought and drowned out by the roar of the casino.
The Hardcore Gambler is a wonderful guest – when he first arrives and when he’s winning. When he’s losing? You better get the hell out of his way or you’ll be roadkill, man.
7) The Gold Digger/Trophy Wife. She’s not really a #4 or #5, but she has every intention of getting paid – one way or another. She’s usually a second wife or the first thing a person buys when they hit it big. I’m using the term “person” because I’ve seen lesbian trophy wives who were clearly worth every penny.
It takes an experienced mind to pick out the difference between these guests but after almost twenty years in the trenches I’m an old hand at it.
Gold Diggers are usually pretty happy (and why shouldn’t they be?) and so they’re actually great guests to serve. The same applies to the Trophy Wife. I know you’re disappointed to read that, but there are a few ice-cold bitches out there, every one of whom will cross my path at some point, naturally.
8) The Homeboy. He seems like a cliché: the gold tooth, the twenty boxes of Nikes, the super baggy pants, the girlfriend with the butt the size of an aircraft carrier… but he’s all too-real.
9) The Brady Bunch on Acid. This family makes The Beverly Hillbillies look positively mainstream, which, come to think of it, they kinda are these days. But the BBA clan defies description, cannot be categorized, psychoanalyzed or measured in any way.
Dad is barely sober. Mom is woefully under-medicated, by her own standards at least. Little Sally is an amateur, unpaid porn star and a stripper-in-the-making. Little Timmy can’t wait to make the Feds’ Most Wanted list.
They’re just plain nuts.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way, truth be told. What would my life be without them?
10) The X-Guest. This space is reserved for the guest I have yet to meet, the one who will validate my decision to never say, “Now I’ve seen it all.”
The X-Guest keeps me sharp, where I gotta be, as Al Pacino would say.
This guest could be male, female, transgender. They could be married, single, or in a relationship that defies convention. You literally don’t know what you’re going to get with an X-Guest. Although, it’s safe to say they won’t be a member of the X-Men.
Or maybe they will be?
This concludes our brief look at some of the travelers that will cross my path this winter. Yes, one thousand words and change is brief when you consider I literally meet thousands of guest every year. Since we’ve barely scratched the surface, we’ll return to this subject again, eventually.
See you in the lobby, folks…
Lord help me…