The Tao of Captain Hook.

As you may or may not be aware, my friends, I have recently been promoted to Bell Captain, the ultimate case of the inmate running the asylum.

Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to rise to the occasion and keep this ship (which has felt like it’s been sinking for 17 months) afloat while making some much-needed adjustments to my new role. I’m leading by example in a selfless manner and making sure my charges (all four of them) understand that the changes to our department’s operating systems may only be temporary.

With any luck, that is.

The truth is, no one really knows exactly what the hospitality industry is going to look like when the scourge of Covid-19 is finally under control someday. Let’s be brutally honest, Covid is never going away, but I’m confident we can find a way to return to some sense of normalcy once these ant-vaxxing sons of bitches finally realize they’re putting themselves and the whole world at risk with their madness.

For now though, I’ve been considering writing a manual for any new bellman I may hire someday. To that end, here is the section that deals with Frequently Asked Questions rookie bellmen have posed to me over the years.

ARE WE ALLOWED TO HAVE SEX WITH THE GUESTS?

While we firmly (pun intended) believe in providing the best customer service possible, the only way to truly answer this question is with another one.

“Were you allowed to have sex with customers at your previous place of employment?”

Of course, it must be acknowledged that this response once backfired on me when we hired a male stripper to be a part-time bellman…

But getting back to the sexual matter at hand, no, you may not engage in any sort of carnal encounter with a guest at any time. And yes, this even applies to any adult film stars that occasionally visit our establishment. Although, to be honest, simply because someone is a porn actor does not necessarily mean they are a sex addict. They just want you to believe they are.

WHY CAN’T BELLMAN CARRY FIREARMS?

You’re most likely chuckling right now, but every single new hire has asked this question out loud within one week or less of being in the hospitality trenches. Serving people in any industry can be challenging. Serving people in the hotel industry can be soul-crushing.

You’ll find yourself reevaluating your personal moral code on a daily basis, especially the section pertaining to maiming and terminating the life functions of your fellow human beings. And yes, even douchebags are human beings.

But carrying weapons of any kind while on duty – with the exception of a razor-sharp wit – has not been approved by Management, despite frequent requests by staff for over two decades now. So please keep your firearms, bear spray, brass knuckles and other device intended to inflict harm and even death, at home please.

WHY DOES [INSERT DEPARTMENT NAME HERE] SUCK SO HARD?

As with any place of business that employs more than few employees, hotels have an operating hierarchy that inevitably leads to clashes between departments. As a bellman you will find yourself wondering why the Front Desk has booked a guest in the wrong room type or why multiple guests are often issued keys for the same room. Or why Housekeeping ignored the inescapable buzz of a sex toy in a drawer. Or why Maintenance left their used plunger in a guest bathroom.

The answers range from simple human error to gross incompetence, but one thing is immutable: Other departments will always make messes the bellmen have to clean up.

So do your best to do just that – and as quickly and as quietly as possible. Then you can move on and get back to the business of making money.

WHY ARE GUESTS SO CHEAP?

As a bellman you’ll be asking yourself this question every time you move eighteen bags from the lobby to the fiftieth floor and receive a few schillings (if you’re lucky) for your trouble. Because we are in a gratuitous position, our wage is the bare minimum mandated by law – but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the x-factor when dealing with guests. Anything can and will happen when your labors are complete.

Some guests will spend thousands on electronics, booze, drugs, hookers and anything else they consider essential, but when it comes to tipping, they’re suddenly poor. This is an immutable fact.

What can you do about this immutable fact? I’m afraid there’s no advice I can impart, except this: You can “get” anyone… if you’re clever enough to cover your tracks. That is all.

That concludes our preview, kids. Perhaps we’ll revisit my Bellman’s manual someday. After two decades in the hospitality trenches, I have a great deal of “wisdom” to impart to the younger generation. One can only pray the hotel biz reverts to something recognizable to a pre-Covid existence. Otherwise, bellmen will become extinct and the younger generation will be forced to take jobs that don’t allow them to observe humanity at their very best – but mostly at their worst.

See you in the lobby, friends…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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24 Responses to The Tao of Captain Hook.

  1. Glad to know things are coming together with you at the helm Robert. Take care, keep safe, and mask up!

  2. Well done, Hook. I think not being able to shoot scumbags is a gross miscarriage of justice. I did a stint as room service and busboy wienie at a premier hotel chain. It was in a vacation spot made famous by the movie “Where the Boys Are.” Life there was a living hell every day. The waitstaff tried to stiff me, the customers tried to stiff me, and the lifeguard tried to kill me. (So the toast blew off the tray into his clean pool after he had warned me not to cut through the pool area on the way to the rooms.) I finally gave up and went back to Michigan to continue my college education. I did work in a bar while in college but it was nothing near as stressful as the hotel business. Guess who overtipped service folks for 45 years while on travel.

  3. Loretta Hassler says:

    So glad to see you back on top of your game in the hospitality industry and as a blogger. Fun read, this!

  4. You are the perfect mentor! Break them in right! (although I do think they should be allowed to carry some sort of weapon. Is there a wiffle gun?)

  5. Doug in Sugar Pine says:

    I would think seriously about actually writing that manual if I were you. I worked at a company that did home delivery of furniture and appliances, and they had a manual written by one of the most senior deliverymen, and it included such scintillating prose (on the subject of stacked washer/dryer combos) “Stackers are an affront to human dignity and revolutions have been started over less…”

  6. StillWatersAgain says:

    Congratulations on your promotion, Mr. Capt. Hook. Wonderful to see your blogs again. I’ve missed your subtle humour. All the best to you and your family. Stay safe. SW.

  7. I thought you’d been quiet for a bit. Congratulations on the new position, by the way. If you think guests deserve a good kicking, try working in retail… Just so you know, I always tip generously, though not where I’m forced to stay in Cambridge at the moment to be near the hospital.Yes, the treatment goes on..And on. And on…

  8. Jennie says:

    Hook, you always make me laugh! Thank you!!

  9. That was fun! I hadn’t realized how much I missed your Bellman tales, it has been so long! You have to admit adding “Captain” to your name was inevitable. 😉

  10. Loving the image of Hugh Dillon… Very appropriate illustration of the internal feeling one gains from working in the Service Industry… Other thoughts, CONGRATULATIONS on your advancement! Much love and happiness to you and your awesome supportive family!

  11. Somehow I have the image of you walking down a hotel corridor followed by a line of ducklings in bellmen’s hats.
    You’ll do fine – you have managed to survive with a teenage daughter
    hilarious post

    • The Hook says:

      Every shift has brought new challenges (yesterday was a particular dark day), but I’m surviving nonetheless.
      Thanks for stopping by, old friend.

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