Doors.

Hook Headquarters, located somewhere in the bustling metropolis of Niagara Falls, is actually one hundred years old. So yes, it’s almost as old as Kris Jenner…

As such, the wiring in my home was due to be overhauled decades ago. But it wasn’t. So when we moved into our house fourteen years, it fell to the wife and I to spend the cash to ensure our home would never go up in flames after a knob-and-tube connection shorted out. There was just one problem: fourteen years ago we were hardly in the black, to say the least.

A decade-and-a-half later (almost), we’ve decided to bite the bullet and ensure our home doesn’t become a ginormous hunka, hunka burnin’ love. (Yes, the Elvis reference was for the wife, thank you very much.) And so we’ve had a team of electricians bring us into the 21st century at last.

Fun Fact: Our electrician informed us the house was built before electricity was installed!

No wonder we love Murdoch Mysteries so much.

By now you’re no doubt wondering what the point of all this seemingly-pointless sharing is, right?

As part of the process of making room for the electricians to do their job (which, by the way, was a helluva big job), the wife and I were forced to literally clean house. We moved pieces of furniture that hadn’t been touched by human hands for years (much like Kris Jenner’s lady parts, no doubt) and then we gasped at the dust bunnies the size of Godzilla that were waiting for us. And when we got to our walk-up, full-sized-yet-unfinished attic, we realized just how much “stuff” (not the word I used, by the way) we’ve accumulated in fourteen years.

But we cleared out the junk. We parted with the sentimental pieces left by my father-in-law. We donated whatever we could to Value Village. And then we had to move everything that remained into a space that is a quarter of the total size of the attic itself. And then I had to sweep up enough dust/insulation/debris to result in a scene like this:

batman superman comic con 2

As we moved the last few pieces of Christmas decorations (incidentally, we own enough X-Mas decorations to cover the White House), we uncovered one final surprise: A hundred-year-old door.

Now, on the surface, this may not seem like a discovery worthy of Indy Jones, and truthfully, it certainly wasn’t, but it got me thinking. Yes, I do that sometimes. Shut up.

IMG_5564_grandeSeeing this particular door set my mind off on a tangent. Specifically, about all the doors I encounter and use every day. As it turns out, doors play a big role in my life.

Doors separate the madness of the outside world (i.e. the guests) from the hotel, though not for long. Sooner or later, travelers will make their way through the hotel’s sliding doors or one of the two $250,000 revolving doors we installed for some inexplicable reason. The revolving doors’ sensors are, well… too sensitive, and so they stop every. five. seconds. And yes, it gets old fast and people flip out immediately. 

Doors separate the Luggage Room from the rest of the hotel, allowing my colleagues and I to take refuge in a dirty, cold room made of concrete and exposed pipes. I liken it to Eric Foreman’s basement but without the freezer filled with Popsicles, sadly. In spite if it’s lack of ambience, the Luggage Room is a suitable refuge; the conversations that take place within it keep us sane, though you wouldn’t believe that if you heard some of the things bellmen talk about when they think the world isn’t listening…

Speaking of the Luggage Room, there are actually five doors that connect my “Hook Cave” to the hotel. Of course, that means my home-away-from-home is like a sitcom, where a wacky neighbor or stranger is constantly appearing for a moment to entertain the “audience” before heading outside, into the lobby or onto one of two elevators to the South Tower. 

Doors separate the public washrooms from the masses, and many guests will take advantage of this by using a corner stall or even a counter to fornicate.

Once again, I don’t need to tell you that you read that line correctly, do I? Expect the unexpected in my world, folks.

Doors are portals to other worlds, like Laundry or Housekeeping, where the adventures are of a decidedly-different flavor, but no less epic in their own way.

Guest room doors play the most important role of all in my adventures as The Hook. Every time I step through a door a mystery is about to be solved.

  •  “Were these guests having sex before I arrived, as seems to be the case far too often these days?”
  •  “Are these guests nuttier than the proverbial fruitcake?”
  •  “Will I discover some delicious blog fodder when I cross this particular threshold?”
  •  “Can the noises I hear be emanating from children or has someone opened a small zoo in the hotel?”
  •  “Why does it smell like a zombie horde has gathered in this room? I mean, I know hotel bathrooms are horribly-under-ventilated, but this is ridiculous!”

And the most important question of all…

“Will I get tipped or stiffed by these guests?”

So as you can see, doors are at the center of my universe. I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings. And don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have a thick, juicy guest rant for you the next time we meet.

And just in case you’re wondering just what knob-and-tube wiring looks like:

knt1Fascinating, yes? Well, just imagine this running through – and powering –  your entire house. Once again, I cannot overstate how big a job this was; 90% of our home was knob-and-tube which meant the electricians removed enough wiring to circle the  globe twice. Or something like that. I don’t have exact figures…

Well, I’m out of here. Time to figure out which organ I’m going to sell in order to pay for this home renovation.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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What’s So Great About Being The Hook Anyway?

This year marks forty-six years of my presence on this glorious mud ball we all call home.

Yes, time really does fly when you’re haranguing guests, flaming out as an author, annoying your family and bringing everyone on the blogosphere and Twitter to their knees, thank you for asking.

The passing of my “special day” (sounds almost like male PMS, doesn’t it?) set my mind abuzz with self-reflection, which, has in turn, led to some self-love.

Not that type of self-love, perverts. I’m referring to recognizing the good qualities my psyche holds rather than just focusing on my weaknesses for once. As many of you can attest, I spend far too much time spotlighting my failures (yes, I’ve had more than a few) instead of looking at the victories I can lay claim to.

So let’s look at some of those wins, shall we?

 1)  I’m alive.  A single swimmer defied the odds, beat out the competition and made it to the Promised Egg. Ironically, many years later my own swimmers were incapable of replicating that feat without a significant boost from science… but this victory stands on its own.

2)  My childhood wasn’t exactly The Wonder Years… but I survived.  Without going into detail, I had some pretty messed-up moments as a kid, to say the least, but I’ve learned to say, “So what?” Granted, some of the points I’m going to raise later on are the only reason I can afford to be so cavalier about childhood trauma.

3)  I’m tall.  Seriously, I’m a redwood with a patch of hair on top. Yes, it may seem like I’m reaching (see what I did there?) but my height has always been counted as a plus by society rather than a minus, so there.

4)  It’s true what they say about  tall men, ladies.  But on the downside, we hit our heads a lot and we have a tough time fitting our oversize frames into tight spots, so you have to be realistic when planning carnal encounters in small spaces.

5)  I’m white.  Now before anyone starts screaming the “R” word, hear me out. I can’t dance, so I’d make a lousy brotha. I hate spicy food, so being Indian would be a gastronomical disaster. I hate gambling, so that leaves the other type of Indian out. I was destined to be a pasty, balding member of the Caucasian race, my friends.

6)  I’ve never seen the Kim Kardashian sex tape.  For that matter, I’ve never watched a “Kardashian show”. Uunless I Am Cait counts.)

7)  My ears have never listened to songs from the following “artists”:

  •  Kanye West.
  •  Drake.
  • Justin Bieber.
  •  Paris Hilton.

Which helps to explain why I’m not a total douche.

8)  I’ve never walked away from my nerdy past.  I used to walk an hour uphill (both ways, naturally) through the snow to get to Len’s Odds and Ends in St. Catharines when I was a wee lad of the Seventies, just to score the latest comics on my pull list. That spirit still resides within me today. And yes, I’ve had actual sex with an actual woman, so shut up.

tumblr_no9jjmIaRB1rn55nzo1_500What more could a could a young boy ask for?

9)  The “Big Guy” has blessed me with the best damn family anyone could ever ask for.  I don’t say much about my wife or daughter, but they make my life worth living. On one hand, I’ve been ridiculously-depressed about the non-status of my writing career, more than I’ve ever been in my adult life. On the other hand, my personal life has never been more fulfilling.

My family keeps me centered. They keep me (relatively) sane. They validate my continued existence. And in return… I drive them around the bend.

It’s a fairly equitable arrangement, wouldn’t you agree?

10)  I’m every HR director’s worst nightmare brought to life.  A colleague recently had an ugly run-in with a cheerleading mom. He was flabbergasted that the mother (and she was a mother, if you get my drift) in question actually fought back.

“How come you can say whatever you want to guests, Hook… but I can’t get away with a single remark?”

The answer is simple, really. I merely stated the truth of my existence as the world’s most outspoken bellman:

“Hey, do you actually think I became The Hook overnight?  It’s taken me years to cultivate my particular style.  And truthfully, dumb luck is as much a part of my success as anything else. My advice?  Just be yourself… there’s only one Hook, buddy.”

Even if I get called on the carpet – which I rarely do – I’ve always walked away smelling like hotel lobby flowers. In fact, in every case so far, someone else has wound up being written up or even fired. Sometimes I feel like Rick Grimes; I survive what gets thrown at me. Unlike Rick, though, I know better than to get too overconfident.

the-walking-dead-rick-grimes-greatest-kills-334888You’re going to write me up?

11)  I just won’t give up.  Even though the Universe is sending me some pretty clear messages. As a husband, I won’t ignore my responsibilities to my wife as the breadwinner. As a father, I sometimes feel like a complete loser who fails every time he tries to make his dreams a reality. What message am I sending to my daughter?

But as a man, I can’t ignore the dreams of my childhood. Even though my soul is literally aching from the beat downs I’ve been taking lately, there will always be a part of me that has to dream. To live any other way is to lay down and die.

I once made the decision to die, something I’ll never do again. I’m in this life, failed dreams and all, for the long haul.

And on that mixed note, I’m out.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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“Awkward” Doesn’t Begin To Cover This One…

As I scribble these words in an unbelievably-worn notebook to be transcribed to the web later, hordes of cheerleaders, cheer parents and cheer coaches are checking out of the hotel.

Truthfully, I’m cool with that. Ridiculously-cool, in fact. Don’t get me wrong though, having three thousand “cheer people” stay in the hotel is a much-needed boost to our off-season sales. it’s all about heads in beds, kids.

But having three thousand “cheer people” in the hotel – and thousands more in the city of Niagara Falls – is not good for one’s already-tenuous sanity. Still, if I can survive six mind-boggling seasons of LOST, I can survive pretty anything, right?

But back to the great cheer exodus of 2016. I was standing at the Valet Desk, as I often do during the early hours of Sunday morning, before all hell breaks loose, educating the young Valet Desk coordinator on the finer points of Eighties films (of all genres, mainstream and not-so-mainstream) when a young French-Canadian cheer coach approached us.

She was of average height but exceptional build, with beautiful raven locks and a decent amount of face paint. (I only mention the make-up because most of the super-young cheerleaders I’ve seen this year look like hookers, to put it mildly.) Her thin frame was covered in tight workout pants and a figure-hugging green top. She was a fine representative of Quebec.

CHEER COACH:  (Looking right at me, through to my soul.)  You do me, please?

Yep.

ME:  (Clearing my throat while giggling.)   Excuse me, miss?

CC:  You do me? With rollie cart?

The picture became a little less murky – but no less amusing. 

CC:  I need you!

ME:  I can help you with your luggage, miss, if that’s what you want.

CC:  Yes! You do me?

ME:  (Putting the Cheshire Cat to shame.)  Certainly! I’ll see you at your room in a few minutes.

And so I set out to do my part for provincial relations. I knocked on the young lady’s door and that’s when things got weird – even for my life. There she stood at the door, accompanied by another cheer coach. The original CC stood motionless, a slight smile on her face, a toothbrush in her mouth – and no top on.

That’s right, she had a black lace bra over her… croissants, but nothing more. To make matters even stranger, neither coach would move so I could enter the room and collect their bags. They just stood in the doorway, grinning slightly at me as two of their compatriots placed all their luggage in the far corner of the room, rather than putting it close to the door as is the norm. Why make it easy on the Anglophone, right?

giphy

Finally, I had to say something. After all, my shift was only nine hours long and time was wasting away. Plus, the whole situation was just bizarre. I mean, these French gals just weren’t moving. CC just stood there, a toothbrush protruding from her small mouth as a mixture of toothpaste and drool collected at the corners of her lips.

ME:  Ladies, can someone please move before I wind up divorced?

It was all I could come up with. To be honest, I just wanted to get anything out before I said something truly horrible, as I’ve been known to do.

To my horror, they didn’t move an inch. Don’t ask me what they were waiting for; if they had an agenda they surely would have enacted it within a minute, right? Anyone walking by in the hall would have had a helluva vacation tale to tell.

Finally, I just walked in, basically forcing my way into the room.

Patience_5180f7_358261

 

 

 

They scattered, Topless CC headed back into the bathroom and her colleague headed further into the room at last.

But no one lifted a bag any closer to the door, which, quite honestly, was fine with me. I prefer to load my cart myself; as a bellman there are very few situations I have complete and total control over.

Sadly, the story becomes conventional after that. I loaded the cart, met the No-Longer-Topless-CC and another of her colleagues in the parking garage where I loaded their van and accepted my cash tip. Each of us did a Fleetwood Mac and went our own way.

Sorry if I’ve disappointed you, folks, but while my life as a bellman occasionally steers into Penthouse Letters territory, I have to immediately do a course-correction. I’m bound by a strict code of conduct that I play fast loose with enough as it is. Plus, the wife would kill me.

You that wasn’t a euphemism, right? She’d actually be responsible for the life leaving my body. Not that I’d blame her.

And on that matrimonial note, I’ll see you in the lobby, folks…

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Silent Squirrel Sunday.

My bride of twenty-one-years has a gift.

Okay, to be honest, she has many gifts. Some of which I can discuss, while divulging others would get me beaten with a cast-iron frying pan. I really mean that, by the way; it’s happened before.

One of my spouse’s coolest gifts is her ability to charm the wildlife in our suburban refuge. Stray cats, possums, and especially squirrels, they all recognize our home as a McDonald’s. The front door is like a drive-thru.

Incidentally, this isn’t hyperbole. At all. We’ll often open the door, begin to step out and stop when confronted with a hungry, furry resident of Niagara Falls. This leads to specific sentences being shouted out in our home.

“Hey, Mom! Red Tail is out there! Hope you bought the cookies he likes!”

Which brings us to the following pic my daughter snapped yesterday.

20160220_145814

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s entirely possible this particular squirrel is a ninja master who lost both eyes in battle and now relies on his training to survive and vanquish his enemies.

Or maybe he was just blinking.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Cheerleaders, man…

I’d like to begin by stating my love for cheerleaders and the parents who sacrifice so much to support them as they shake their pom-poms.

I’d like to begin that way…

I kid of course – but that’s only because I’m a jerk. The truth is, most cheerleaders, cheer parents and even cheer pets are all right in my book. Which, by the way, no one bought. Moving on…

Niagara Falls was recently infested visited by thousands of cheer families and I have to tell you, they were unforgettable. Among the words I could use to describe them are:

  •  Hostile.
  •  Cheerful.
  •  Rage-filled.
  •  Cheap.
  •  Over-caffeinated.
  •  Exuberant.
  •  Bitch nuts.

Sorry, that last one was inspired by The Walking Dead. (I’m a huge nerd.)

Among the three thousand young ladies of the cheering persuasion that were in the hotel, a few stood out, with little effort. For example, check out this winner I passed on my way to a room. She was roughly seventeen, done up like a mini-hooker, naturally, and surrounded by a dozen of her cohorts whom she was addressing as they made their way through the lobby. And she was a blogger’s dream come true.

“Yeah, I had to break up with him because he wasn’t on my intellectual level!”

Yes, you read that correctly. He didn’t challenge her intellectually.

I cannot begin to articulate how much I wanted to say something to this young bottom feeder, but sadly, if I had said something without a proper opening/set-up it would have been cruel. 

Still, I got a blog post out of the whole mess, so that’s something.

See you in the lobby, kids…

latestSadly, not all cheerleaders are this much fun…

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It’s List Time, Kiddies!

Gather round the virtual campfire, children, it’s time for The Hook to read from ye olde list.

In other words, here’s another lame-ass post cobbled together from my eighteen years in the Niagara Falls hospitality trenches. Excited yet?

Either way, let’s switch things up and look at a department I’ve never discussed before: Laundry. People rarely think about the folks who literally sacrifice blood, sweat and tears in order to ensure you have clean sheets to sleep and fornicate on while you’re away from home. Working in a hotel laundry is as close to the fires of Hell as you’d ever want to get, my friends.

paris_hilton_laundry_gifThis captures the general mood but not the steamy reality, kids.

One of the less humid duties of a Laundry worker is to empty the main chute in the basement. Each floor has it’s own door that feeds into the main chute which empties in the bowels of each tower. Sounds real sexy, doesn’t it?

Trust me, it isn’t.

The truth is, while this duty may be cooler in temperature than the main laundry room, the downside is you have to deal with whatever little surprises are waiting for you in the seemingly-endless piles of filthy sheets you have to sort through. And sometimes guests just chuck stuff down the chute for the hell of it.

Like what, you ask?

breakNeedles of every variety. We’re not just talking syringes containing legitimate medicine like insulin. No, we’re talking about delivery systems for heroin and… well, to be honest, I know bugger-all about recreational drugs. My knowledge is limited to five seasons of Breaking Bad, unfortunately, but trust me, you don’t want to ever get stuck by a needle left in a hotel room.

BDjy8-

Sorry, but this doesn’t happen in hotel laundry rooms, men. Trust me.

Bricks.  Okay, it was a single brick, no doubt thrown by a complete moron who wanted to hear it crash at the bottom of the chute. Unfortunately for the moron in question, the bottom was too far away to hear. Fortunately, for Laundry staff, no one was working in the chute room at the time. Otherwise, if the main door had been open someone could have been seriously injured or even killed.

Sex toys.  So, so, so many sex toys. For the life of me, I can’t understand how people could possibly leave their pleasuring devices wrapped up in sheets. Don’t they realize how expensive it is to have a tech-assisted orgasm these days? On the plus side, it’s really cool to watch Laundry workers slowly approach a buzzing sheet… gently reach for it… and then roll their eyes and let out a “OH!” when faced with the not-so-sexy reveal.

That gets me every time.

Feces.  Yes, people actually involuntarily empty their bowels in their hotel room bed or they deliberately wrap human waste in sheets, knowing full well some poor ridiculously-underpaid hospitality worker is going to have to deal with it eventually. 

Aren’t humans the best?

Someone’s furry best buddy.  Parents, I know it’s exhausting but you really have to keep a close eye on your kid’s non-living best bud while traveling. Children will often leave their little buddies – unintentionally, of course – behind when they finally get out of bed and if that happens and you’re asleep at the switch?

Well, strap yourself in, the ride’s about to get bumpier than you can imagine…

Seriously though, as parents we must remain ever vigilant, despite our innate ability to mess up. The last thing you want is to be hours away from your hotel when Little Timmy or Sally (yes, I’m great picking original names) realizes Mr. Stuffy Pants has gone rogue like Daryl from The Walking Dead.

Bottles of liquor.  Glass does not handle stress well, especially the type of stress that results from being dropped fifty stories down a laundry chute. Luckily in most cases, the impact is cushioned by linen.

Phones and all manner of tech.  Sadly, no Stark Tech ever shows up in the chute room which is such a shame. I could really use a suit of Iron Man armor. However, when people lose their devices, especially their phones, they act as though they’ve lost an appendage. Tech dependence can be ugly to witness, kids, so stay in drugs and off school.

Or something like that.

A live snake.  I’m kidding! You can relax!

The snake was dead.

Various weapons.  Knives of all shapes and sizes. Brass knuckles. Tasers. Small bats. I swear, people have gone off the reservation since shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead debuted. Travelers love to carry weapons they feel will save their lives if a zombie outbreak finally occurs. Or if The White Walkers show up.

Toys.  Actual toys, not toys one would insert into orifices for sexual pleasure. Unless, of course, one was a real freak.

aquaYou want to put me where?

Garbage.  Yes, back before the days of locks on laundry chutes, guests would hurl bags of refuse down the hotel’s chutes as thought they were at home in their apartment buildings. Naturally, those bags would rarely be closed up and a shower of garbage would land in the chute room. People really are the best.

Room service trays.  People really do get bored while on vacation. Either that, or far too many guests are obsessed with the Jackass movies. Unfortunately, room service trays aren’t the right dimension to fit in a laundry chute. So they get jammed. In-between floors. Which isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

Children.  Why do you think the hotel put locks on the laundry chutes in the first place?

break

Well, as the wife often says, “this started out fun… but now it’s just exercise.” Or something like that. At any rate, it’s time to go. There are bags to be delivered, tips to be collected and guests who need harassing.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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An Important Travel Tip From The Hook.

In this day and age of wireless connectivity, many travelers find it impossible to unplug and actually enjoy the journey.

This is a shame, because most guests I meet are wound tighter than Donald Trump’s hairpiece right before a televised debate.

And that’s pretty tight.

We all need to learn to relax while traveling, folks. Why spend thousands of dollars if you’re not going to truly unwind while away from home? You might as well stay on your couch and obsess over every detail of your life. At least that way, you can save the cash for therapy and antidepressants.

That having been said, most travelers could stand to put more effort into the planning phase of their excursions. Unwinding requires some forethought. For example, when it comes to having certain aspects of your home life follow you on vacation, you really need to think things through. Failure to do so could get you a free trip to the last place you want to call home-away-from-home…

Confused? Stick with me and all will be clear soon.

A young wife recently approached the hotel’s Concierge Desk to make a rather routine request.

“My husband is expecting a very important package that should be delivered in the next day or so… can you inform us when it arrives?  It’s vital my husband get this package!  My husband’s package is very significant!”

Yes, it’s a crying shame I wasn’t there to discuss that last sentence with the young, over-enthusiastic bride. To be fair, though, I most likely would have been laughing far too hard to say anything at all – for fifteen minutes at least. Golden opportunities like that don’t land in my lap every day, kids.

At any rate, the bride in question was adamant that her hubby’s package was something “that should not be ignored”. (Again, I can’t believe I missed this chick.) Unfortunately, the couple checked out before the aforementioned package showed up. This is where it gets tricky, my friends.

The bride was smart enough to leave a forwarding address for her spouse’s package – though one would imagine it went everywhere he did – and so she assumed that she covered all her bases.

Boy, did she get it wrong.

Dead wrong.

I know you’re confused again. Hang in there.

While the bride was wise enough to leave a forwarding address, she was completely brain-dead when it came to the reality of having items shipped to her hotel. Listen carefully to this travel tip…

When you have a package shipped to a hotel with your name on it, it can actually be considered the establishment’s property once they assume responsibility for it. 

In some cases, hotels will feel compelled to open certain packages if they feel the contents are of a suspicious nature. They are perfectly within their rights to do so.

And that’s exactly what happened in this case.

Security opened the package in question.

Which contained enough cocaine to put Keith Richards in the ground.

Yes, you read that correctly. The local authorities examined the white powder, confirmed it’s nature and sent it on to the PD in the couple’s hometown so an arrest or two could me made. Fortunately, their dealer even left a card in the package so the police in his district can bring him in for milk and cookies.

So do you see what the bride did wrong, readers?

ONE:  She was far too stupid to be allowed to venture into the great wide open.

TWO:  She and her husband actually had a butt load of cocaine shipped to their hotel.

THREE:  They left their real address so their drugs could be shipped there – and so the authorities could easily track them down.

Again, the real tragedy here was that all of this happened while I was off-duty. Still, at least I can use this almost-unbelievable situation to entertain, illuminate and educate my readership.

Yes, I am quite the humanitarian, thank you very much.

See you in the lobby, kids.

Just don’t send your drugs there.

tumblr_l9jmk5EnUl1qe0qyho1_500I  love humanity…

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