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:
- He could stand around and wait like an idiot for another guest to return a cart. (Something that rarely happens.)
- 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.