I haven’t written much about my life in the hospitality trenches lately so here’s a brief look into my world.
As a bellman I have one goal to achieve while I’m on a call (in lay terms that refers to serving a guest, not yakking on a squawk box) and that’s to get the “prize”.
First prize is that oh-so-sweet cash in your hand. We’re talking cold hard Canadian currency in a handful of colors, or even some dead American presidents if you’re partial to those. To be clear, if you’re a bellman you have to be willing to fight for that prize.
The truth is, guests don’t want to give you their money. They have better things to spend it on than give it to some schmuck in a uniform that looks like it was designed by Stevie Wonder. Booze, overpriced hotel rooms, gas for that leased car they can’t afford, ex-spouses, rambunctious kids, cocaine, legalized Canadian weed, the list goes on. So you have to charm the pants off these mothers (and fathers) and make them love you long enough to hand that cheddar over.
And make no mistake, they have that cheese. Oh sure, they may claim they’re tapped out but only a complete tool walks around on vacation without some cash in their pocket. So the cash is there.
Are you gonna take it? Are you bellman enough to take it? If you are, then you get that first prize and you walk away feeling like you just had coitus in the back of a Buick on prom night with that girl in high school who put the “head” in “head cheerleader”.
Yeah, I suck at the dirty writing. Shut up.
Second prize is that one breakfast food all bellman loathe, the bagel. In my world a “bagel” refers to what happens when a good-for-nothing, soulless son of a bitch guest doesn’t hand over the gratuity. It can be used in a sentence such as:
“That prick in 3201 from Jersey with the halitosis, the succubus wife and the three kids that scream like howler monkeys getting a prostate exam from a leper with fingernails that have never been trimmed just gave me a bagel! Somebody get me his home address… I’m telling ICE he’s employing undocumented workers!”
Fun Fact: I’ve given this exact speech more than once.
Third prize is you’re fired. Actually that’s not true, but a bellman that can’t close the deal and walk away with that money doesn’t need to be fired, he’ll quit sooner or later.
So in my world I need to be the smartest guy in the hotel room or I walk away with shit.
Another Fun Fact: I once worked with a young black man who, after loading up his inaugural car on the valet deck during check-out time waved at me as we were both heading back to our luggage storage room. We were separated by thirty feet, the deck was jammed, there were valet drivers, doormen and guests all over and when I yelled over to him, “How’d your first call go?” His response, first uttered almost twenty years ago, still reverberates in my consciousness:
“Man, those people didn’t give me shit!”
Fortunately, the male guest hadn’t gotten into his car yet and actually heard his bellman’s response, and knowing everyone else did too, the asshat in question felt obligated to hand over that tip.
Always be closing, kids.
See you in the lobby, friends…