Dear Ronnie…

Hey, brother,

I know it’s been awhile since we talked, but I’m sure you understand. I’ve been feeling frustrated/overwhelmed/lost lately and so I’ve decided to do what I would have done in the past: I’m venting to the best listener I know.

Putting the events of the last two years into words isn’t easy, to say the least. (I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact this nightmare has dragged on into a third year.)

As you can imagine, things at the hotel have been… I guess “unfamiliar” is the best way to describe our new status quo. I’ve been working in the Bizarro World version of Niagara for wat feels like forever now and it’s been soul-crushing, quite frankly, my dear friend. And so, the bellmen have been coping with the pandemic the only way they know how: by utilizing madness to dispense service to travelers.

When they’re allowed to, that is. The hotel no longer offers full-service valet or bellmen service so we’ve truly been left at the mercy of our guests.

And as you know, Ronnie, our guests have no mercy.


I honestly don’t know anymore…

There are exceptions, of course.

Like the guest in 1412 who, when faced with the realization that there were no luggage carts left for guest use at check-out time, had to select one of two options:

  1. He could stand around and wait like an idiot for another guest to return a cart. (Something that rarely happens.)
  2. He could (gasp!) engage the exceptionally-entertaining assistance of an actual luggage transportation professional like myself for a modest fee.

Being an American from an unabashedly Red state, he chose a third option after walking away in anger: he stole a maid’s cart, loaded all his bags on it in the most haphazard manner imaginable and rolled it through the crowded lobby on a Saturday morning like it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

He even approached me and tipped me “for the help”, even though no help was actually given.

Sitting at the Bell Desk watching this insanity unfold, my first instinct was to turn to you and say, “Do you believe this shit, brother?”

But your place as my wingman has been occupied by others in the last few years. There are only four of us left from the crew you served with for a decade, Ronnie, and none of us are the same bellmen we used to be. Some people won’t accept change. They just refuse to sign for it.

So they cope however they can. Outright denial. Bitter rants. Turning to vices best left unmentioned. I’m genuinely shocked that some of us haven’t taken a vacation of our own… from reality. In my case, there’s been some personal growth – within reason, of course.

A wish that you held for many years has finally come into existence: yours truly has been elevated to Bell Captain.

I am now Captain Hook at last. Leader of a department that has been marginalized, crippled, and almost stamped into oblivion.


In the midst of the most horrific crusade ever devised to sever a person’s grasp on reality the bellmen have endured humiliation, infighting, financial ruin, etc., and we’re still here.

We are the cockroaches of the Niagara Falls hospitality industry, Rockin’.

Granted, we’ve been sprayed, stomped on and subjected to all manner of attempted eradication – but we’re still here. Though for how much longer is anyone’s guess.

I’m going to wrap it up here, my brother. There is so much I want to tell you, so much I want to say, but the words refuse to leave my addled brain and make their way to the screen via my elongated fingers.

Don’t worry about me, my friend. These days hope is like summer in Siberia; you’ll never find it, and you’ll certainly never feel it, so you have to go ahead and make it. It feels like the bellmen are on a journey whose conclusion is uncertain, and the only thing we have to collectively cling to is hope.

Myself, I hope I can make it across this barren landscape and emerge in the promised land. I hope to see you again someday my friend (though not for years!) and hug you for a week. (I’m secure enough in my masculinity to admit that.)

In the meantime, I hope my dreams are conduits to the Great Beyond and you’re sitting on a beach in a heavenly version of Aruba. Like Ellis “Red” Redding, I hope.


Rock on, brother.

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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38 Responses to Dear Ronnie…

  1. A beautiful post, Hook. Thanks for sharing

  2. Loretta Hassler says:

    Wow, Hook, that is an awesome piece of work!

    • The Hook says:

      Thank you, Loretta.
      I’ve had no idea what to write about in this space for a long time, but I finally fond a way to deal with some of my unresolved feelings concerning my friend’s untimely passing.

  3. Good to see a post from you Robert. Sometimes writing things down is the best way. I wrote a letter to my Mum shortly after she passed away. It’s been four years now. Take care and keep safe.

  4. Dear Hook, Having not seen you for such a long time, I hoped to stop by today for a little catching up and some fun. I was sorry to see of your friend’s passing. Your letter was lovely and touching. I’m so glad you shared. We’ll have some laughs another day. Love you!

    • The Hook says:

      Sorry to be a bit of a downer, Maddie, but I’m actually not depressed, I just needed to unload some feelings.
      I hope you’re doing well, my friend.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. So very touching. And I have no doubt he’s right there with you shitting – I mean, sitting on your shoulder, cheering you on. (Would that have been his sense of humor?) No doubt toasting to Captain Hook whenever he gets the chance.

  6. Doug in Sugar Pine says:

    OK, I’m gonna quote another dearly departed bass player from memory, so don’t bitch if I fuck it up:
    “Everybody born, everybody die, right? Everybody born for something, everybody die for something. Well, we’re lucky to be here because we should have died a long fucking time ago. But we didn’t. We’re still here. Do you know what we’re born for? We’re built for speed.”

  7. nbratscott says:


  8. humbirdheart8 says:

    Dear Hook,
    Two weeks ago, my sister came to visit me here in LA, and we stayed at the Marina del Rey Hotel, where they have Valet Parker Guys (Bellmen for your car!), and these Guys were absolutely awesome.
    And I thought of you.
    And we thanked the Guys profusely, and tipped them very much, and smiled a lot, and told them how grateful we were that they were there to help my sister park her Travel Van, and wished them much happiness and success.
    All to say, we, customers who appreciate the hard work of the Service Staff of all varieties (including Room Service and Bell), still remember courtesy and respect, and how to tip and be nice to fellow humans. We, too, are still here, and live in hope that this tide will pass sooner than later.
    And so, my dear hook, keep the faith. We are here.
    Much love and peace and happiness to you.

  9. curvyroads says:

    It’s awesome to see you express yourself so honestly, about your dear friend. It was beautiful, and I hope, cathartic. Stay strong my friend! So many of us are rooting for you! Peace and ❀

  10. awtytravels says:

    The other day, at the ungodly hour of 5:12AM (dark, wet and windy BUT also the only time to cycle in London without risking one’s life) I passed by one of those super-ornate hotels on the Embankment and thought of you. Actually, I first thought about the husband of a colleague of mine who worked in one of those hotels and then of you. I thought “how the eff are these guys surviving in this gigantic tidal wave of craziness?”. I’m glad you’re still around, Hook. Hope the wave moves off soon.

  11. It’s been a minute, Hook, and I get it. Thank you for sharing this tender, with a dash of your quick sarcasm. No doubt Ronnie got the message.

  12. Jennie says:

    That was fabulous, Hook. Uh, I mean Captain Hook. I think this was important for you to write. Ronnie heard every word.

  13. Hey friend… long time.
    I’m so sorry for the grief you feel for your friend. It is very difficult to lose those we love especially under the circumstances you did. I pray it gets easier as time passes.
    Congrats Captain Hook! I hope things start to look up as this dampandic finally peters out. I’m so tired… just so damn tired of it all.

    • The Hook says:

      We lost Ronnie in 2017, and while the loss still haunts me, I’m actually managing it pretty good.
      I just felt this “Dear Ronnie…” series and my Infinite Crossover Crisis book series would be excellent ways of keeping my friend “alive”.
      And trust me, I’m damn tired of living in this nightmare too.

  14. Ana Trofin says:

    Oh friend, how you made so emotional over someone I don’t know and an industry I know nothing about. I am glad for the little “promotion”, perhaps it ensures a bit of job security in these weird times.
    I hope you loss will become a bit more manageable, but until then we are here with virtual hugs and words of encouragement if we find them πŸ™‚

    • The Hook says:

      I’m actually managing my loss pretty god, I just needed to unload some things.
      As for job security… I have none, really, but I’m hanging in there for now.
      This pandemic has highlighted some ugly truths about my industry; everyone is expendable in the hotel biz.

  15. That picture of Ronnie is awesome! As is this post. It is an honour that you have shared this personal moment between you and your “wingman” with us. I honestly believe he hears every word and is beaming with pride at you for handling things the way you do. Hugs, My Friend.

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