My New Reality.

On March 11, at approximately 1:10 am, I watched the greatest man I’ve ever known slip away from this world.

His passing was peaceful, with only the relentless hiss of an oxygen tube filling the room. His passing was without pain, a merciful coma ensured he would no longer have to suffer the trials of COPD and pneumonia. His passing was observed by three family members, of which I was one. Until that morning I had never watched another human being leave this world, much less one that had such an impact on my life.

To the world, Jack Fisher was my father-in-law, but for all intents and purposes I lost the only true father I’ve ever known when he drew his last breath. He had made my house a home. He had made my family complete. He had made me a man by his example.

There is so much I want to say about John Edward “Jack” Fisher, but I find my self broken inside, my creativity severed from my consciousness, seemingly forever.

The house is quiet at the moment. My family is gone to the movies and this is the first time I’ve touched the computer in over a week. It feels… “wrong” is the only word that comes to mind… for the house to be void of the constant mechanical breathing of an oxygen machine and the presence of an 87-year-old man with more fire and gumption than anyone I’ve ever encountered.

But this is our new reality. We did all we could for Dad when he was with us. I hope it was enough. For now, I am stepping back, from work and the virtual world. There is nothing more to say; I simply don’t have the words. I’m sure they’ll come eventually. I’m sure I’ll be be back sooner or later.

But not today.

Posted in Hotel Life | 51 Comments

An Open Letter To Kelly Ripa. (Or “Why Niagara Wants Another Scoop of Ripa.)

Technically, this is an open letter is to Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, but I’m going to concentrate on the lovely and radiant Kelly rather than her hunky co-star. (Don’t pout, Michael. You’re still rich, beautiful-but-in-a-manly way, and on TV. Get over it.)

Everyone who isn’t Kelly or Michael, read this first before moving forward.

Done? Good, then we’ll continue.

In 1996, America’s favorite morning-show hosts Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford (go ahead and shudder, we’ll wait for you), filmed two episodes at Oakes Garden Theatre. Ten years later, the show returned with Philbin and new co-host, the girl who has become America’s sweetheart, Kelly Ripa. Fast-forward to the present; while chatting up a chilly Niagara Falls two weeks ago, current “Live!” hosts Ripa and Michael Strahan laid hints about their morning show returning to the city someday.

Cue the collective screams of delight across Niagara.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, a blonde Kim Kardashian creeps me out too. As for that other thing you’re thinking; yes, the city of Niagara Falls has been down this road before with Jimmy Fallon and in fact, we still are. But this is different; “Live!” has been here before and with the exception of a few tragic accidents involving missing interns (don’t worry, interns are mass-produced in a factory in Jersey and shipped to various Hollywood productions at a reduced rate), the entire deal went off without a hitch. And so I say we do it again.

To that point, here are ten reasons why Niagara Falls wants, no, make that ten reasons (all mostly true, of course) why Niagara Falls needs Kelly Ripa to get her cute little behind back here ASAP.

10)  SHE’S GORGEOUS!  Niagara Falls is one of God’s most magnificent creations, right behind bacon double cheeseburgers, orgasms and comic books. So it stands to reason that only a talk-show host of exceptional beauty would be able to do our fair city justice.

If Kelly Ripa were an ancient goddess, armies of warriors would tear one another to pieces in an orgy of violence in the hope of winning her favor for an instant. Philosophers would philosophize until their brains melted attempting to understand her complexities. Virgins would be sacrificed by the boatload (something that would be impossible in this day and age… who transports anything by boat anymore?), to appease her. Kings would abdicate their throne for her. Hell, even queens would give up their tiaras for Ripa. In short, she’d be one bitchin’ goddess.

Kelly Ripa, la mère la plus hot d'Hollywood et son iPod

9)  SHE’S NO SCHLEMIEL.  I realize the feminists among my readership are screaming my name right now, but I still believe I should be allowed to honor Ripa’s beauty before her brains… (the screaming just became a not-so-dull roar), as long as I honor her brains eventually.

And so here we are. Not only does Kelly have her own production company and top-billing in her talk show, she was named one of People’s Most Intriguing People and one of the Most Powerful People in Media according to The Hollywood Reporter. It is also a little-known fact that Ripa possesses one of the most powerful scientific minds on the planet, having created advances in robotics, health, dimension-hopping and video streaming. It’s true. I read it somewhere, most likely in a book. (Kids everywhere are Googling “book” right now.) Far from being a narcissist, Ripa prefers to direct mankind to a glorious future from the shadows. And we thank her for it. 

8)  RIPA IS A TWELFTH-LEVEL WICCAN.  But she uses her power wisely and secretly. She’s not one of those in-your-face wiccans who flaunts her power by transforming her cat into a butler every time you come over. She’s a classy wiccan broad.

7)  IT’S DESTINY.  Ripa was cast in her first major acting role in 1990 as Hayley Vaughan, a troubled party girl, on the daytime soap opera All My Children. She concluded her 12-year stint in 2002, but returned for two episodes in 2010 to help celebrate the soap opera’s 40th anniversary. The primary word in “soap opera” is “soap”. Soap is nothing without water. Niagara Falls is water. The math does itself, kids.

6)  SHE HAS A BENEVOLENT HEART.  Ripa donates her invaluable time to numerous charities such as MADD, The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund and even lesser-known organizations such as Bowling For Cats With Ginormous Hairballs, Liposuction for the Hollywood Homeless and the Mansions for Lesser-Successful Kennedys.

5)  SHE’S PERKY ON A SCALE THAT CANNOT BE MEASURED.  In fact, her perkiness is so powerful and infectious, scientists have expended thousands of lives attempting to channel it. Of course, they were intern lives, so…

4)  KELLY IS A GENUINELY NICE PERSON.  So, of course, in Hollywood, that makes her a pariah. The girl could use a break and no one makes a person feel loved and valued like Canadians.

3)  SHE COULD USE A POSITIVE PR EVENT.  Ripa recently went on a spiked yogurt bender with former co-star Megan Fox that took the two beauties across twenty states in a stolen hot dog food truck. (It sported a bumper sticker that read “We brake for big wieners”.) It took fifty troopers, twenty tracker dogs and eight clowns to subdue them. Don’t ask about the clowns; it got weird in the end…

Of course, Gelman hushed the whole spree up. Not that it was difficult; the authorities were instantly entranced by Ripa’s innate goodness and perky nature.

SERIOUSLY, KELLY? YOU MAKE MILLIONS HOSTING YOUR DAYTIME SHOW AND ALL YOU CAN COUGH UP IS THIS $10,000 WATCH?

 

2)  SHE’S THE ULTIMATE PEOPLE PERSON.  Let’s face it, talk show hosts have to deal with people from all walks of life. And the Kardashians. And they have to do it with a smile on their face. No one in daytime talk gives smile like Kelly Ripa.

Niagara Falls is many things, but first and foremost, it is a tourist town. Millions of people travel here every year looking for something. Some are in search of a cheaper version of Vegas. Some want to cross an item off their bucket list. Others are in love with the natural beauty of the Falls. Still others want the Falls to be the last thing they see. It’s a circus, folks, and if you can’t smile for this show, it will eat you alive. Ripa is the perfect talk show tourist for this town. Period.

And finally….

1)  SHE’S KELLY FREAKIN’ RIPA!  What else is there to say? She’s nice, benevolent, perky, a brainiac, talented and hilarious. She’s a loving wife and mom. A source of enlightenment and entertainment to millions. An inspiration to billions. An organ donor. (They’re not her organs, but it’s the though that counts.)

Niagara Falls just hasn’t been the same since her last visit. I do what I can, but I can only elevate our street cred so much. Come on, Kelly, get back here and Mayor Jim Diodati will name a couple of streets, golf courses, orphans and housing developments after you. Possibly.

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The “Frozen Falls” And… Well, Read On…

For the 80th time…

FAMILY OF SEVEN:  (In a collective screaming voice.)  WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE FALLS AREN’T FROZEN OVER?  THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE!

ME:  (Sighing heavily.)  Even if the surface water freezes, the water below it never stops flowing. It would take a catastrophic, cold snap to stop the Falls. Please, folks, direct your anger at Anderson Cooper and CNN.

Drone video of Niagara Falls

We now return you to “You’ve Been Hooked!

Without going into too much detail, I’ve been overwhelmed with family obligations and crises of late and so the blog has fallen behind, but I have a small, but tasty offering for you. Enjoy.

It all started with this Friday night tweet:

But that was the tip of the creepy/disturbing/fun iceberg, kiddies.

The steroid-filled guest in question (we’ll call him “John”, for obvious reasons), was very concerned with saving his pennies. One can only assume he was more concerned with the cost of his “weekend-investment”:

This is a hypothetical hooker, but the fact remains, this is how the young lady arrived in the middle of winter! No hat. No coat. No clue.

The preceding pic should give you an idea of his price point. He was obviously a gentleman of discerning tastes, no doubt?

At any rate, once he was assured the service was gratuity-based and the tipping ball was in his court, he allowed us to load up his hard liquor, beer, chips, pop, fruit tray, bag of sex toys (the buzzing is a dead giveaway), and one small suitcase. (He actually laughed at my use of the words, “ball”, “load”, and “hard”. Charming.)

Twenty minutes later, he was checked in and his “luggage” arrived, courtesy of yours truly.

That’s when the real fun began.

Picture this:

  • The room was dimly lit.
  • Instead of one muscle-headed cheap yutz in a wife-beater T-shirt, there were two.
  • They spent the entire time giggling like school girls. On performing-enhancing hormones.
  • The room was already filled with enough alcohol to slow down the entire population of a Boston neighborhood.
  • The classical tones of some unidentified rapper with the word “Ice” in his name resonated off the walls.
  • The young lady was nowhere to be seen but since the bathroom door was closed, I assumed she was preparing herself for an experience she’d never forget. No matter how much she tried.
  • A low, animalistic wheezing emanated from the bathroom.

Ignoring strange sounds is part of the job, so I carried on. Just for fun, I employed a query that was sure to break the room up.

“Where shall I unload your cart, sir?”

Sure enough, Hanz and Franz cracked up.

“You’re hilarious, Boss! Throw your load anywhere, man… we’re going to!”

 Classy. But it gets better.

I finished unloading. (Go ahead and giggle, I won’t judge. Much.) Bucking tough, muscle-headed convention, John (the first one), tipped me well. I turned to leave…

And the other shoe dropped.

Or, to be clear, the other hooves dropped.

The bathroom door opened and there they stood: The hooker who came in from the cold… and a small pony. 

Take a moment to process that statement.

You good? Then we’ll continue.

As longtime readers will attest, I’ve seen everything. Just about. To be fair, this incident perfectly illustrates just why I never say:

“After 17 years in the hospitality business, I’ve seen everything!”

Have to admit, when I arrived at the room and saw two idiots instead of one, I felt bad for the girl. Now I felt bad for the horse.

And yes, I realize there are a million questions racing through your head right now. Such as:

  • How on Earth did they get that pony up to that room, even at night?
  • What the hell happened next?
  • Who was going to clean the room up the next day? (Housekeeping certainly wasn’t going to. Not without a helluva fight.)
  • Was the SPCA notified? Or Betty White?

And most importantly…

  • WTF?

Well, I can’t help you, kids. I held it together and got the hell out of Dodge. I don’t get paid to be security. Or Niagara FiveO. Or animal control.

I’m The Hook. I deliver your luggage. I entertain you with my snarky wit and general dumbassery. I get paid. (Usually.) I get lost. Period.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Ten Reasons Breakfast Television Should Include Niagara Falls.

So our good friend, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, has proposed a new morning show feature on Toronto’s Breakfast Television: Live weekly hits from Niagara Falls. 

Anyone out there wondering how yours truly feels about that?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Now that we’ve established my zeal for this concept, please allow me to elaborate. 

 10)  This is one television Breakfast that has grown too big for Toronto’s table.  Seriously, the BT gang has covered every nook and cranny of Toronto the Good and then some. It’s time to bounce and expand, bitches! Not that TO doesn’t have any more to offer, but Torontonians have a voracious appetite for knowledge and a weekly visit to their favorite “little cousin” could help satisfy that hunger.

9)  Mayor Jim makes Rob Ford look like a coma patient!  He’s sure to brighten up any broadcast. When he isn’t hosting after-hours booze fests/cage fights for television journalists, celebrities and other ne’er–do–wells, Jim Diodati is extolling the virtues of this fine metropolis to anyone who will listen. And they will listen; his love for this city is infectious and there’s no cure. (Incidentally, about those parties: Melanie Ng is a mean drunk and a fierce combatant. Its always the quiet ones, isn’t it?)

Do you know our mayor has actually taken heat in the local media for his tireless campaign to  lure draw Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show here? Okay, I’ll admit his offer to rename the Falls, the streets, every citizen, pet and business after the late-night host may have been a tad excessive, but that’s show business, kids.

8)  Niagara is full of surprises.  Put the stereotypical images of tacky souvenir shops and tourists traps out of your minds; that’s your grandparent’s Niagara. We have world-class restaurants, wineries, retail shops, and hotels staffed by colorful individuals like myself. And the waters of Niagara Falls can make a man more virile and potent than Kevin Frankish. No lie. They’ve done studies.

7)  Niagara is every one of  Frankie Flowers’ erotic dreams come to life.  We have more open space than you’ll find between a Kardashian’s ears. (This next bit is for Frankie Ferragine, so the rest of you can nod off for a minute.)

The Niagara Parks’ Botanical Gardens is home to the Butterfly Conservatory and serves as an unparalleled, kick-ass outdoor classroom for students attending the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. Established in 1936, Frankie, you’ll enjoy 40 hectares of beautifully maintained gardens, featuring perennials, rhododendrons, azaleas, formal parterre garden, shade, herb and vegetable plantings, as well as our world-famous rose garden featuring over 2,400 roses. Heck, for all I  know you’ll find Jimmy Hoffa in there, that’s how well stocked it is.

6)  We’re damn nice people.  Mess with us and we’ll cut you, but overall, we’ll do anything for you. Need a restaurant reservation at the height of the season? We’ll hook you up. A shoulder to cry on? We’re great listeners. A kidney? We know a guy.

5)  Niagara Falls is NEVER boring.  It may be a frozen paradise at the moment, but as a bellman of seventeen years I can tell you this: This city is frequented by some of the wackiest – and most fascinating – souls to ever pack a laundry basket (ridiculously-expensive suitcases are out of fashion these days) and hit the open road.

For example, here’s a “typical call” on a “typical” day in Niagara…

Two rooms, two tweens, two toddlers who couldn’t stop climbing my cart like a pair of howler monkeys on crack, two Israeli couples… and one single, super randy, Israeli female.

The female in question was as tall as yours truly, with dyed orange hair and a form-clinging tan outfit to match her locks. Honestly, I paid her no mind as her traveling companions carried luggage out to me (I was too busy continuously removing the little ones from my cart to pay any attention to anything else). And so my lack of focus proved to be my downfall.

With a matter of seconds the following scenario unfolded.

  • I bent over to secure my load. (Stop giggling, you perverts.)
  • I stood back up and came face-to-face with The Lady in Orange, who was pressed against my left side, her left hand exploring my lower half while a Cheshire Cat smile grew across her face.
  • I froze for a moment as I met her gaze.
  • She continued to grin and explore.
  • A puzzling lack of sensation down below made me realize the young lady was off the mark… to say the least.
  • I held up a finger to signal my new friend. (A single digit held in the air is the universal sign for “Please stop groping me for a moment.”)
  • A quick trip into my left pocket produced the actual object of my admirer’s ministrations… my large, hard rubber doorstop.
  • It was my turn to smile as she backed away laughing.

Amazingly, her entire group remained oblivious to the entire brief affair. I continued with my work while she wrestled with her surprise. In the end, I received a sizable tip and I walked away with another whopper of a tale.

I love it when almost everyone wins, don’t you?

4)  The ladies of BT are as radiant as the Falls themselves.  (Incidentally, the “Ladies of BT” sounds like a Maxim photo-spread, doesn’t it?) 

But on a more serious note, Melanie, (the lovable, impossibly-cute nerd), Jenn (the gorgeous trickster and Every-woman), and Dina (to quote Leslie Nielsen:She had the kind of legs you’d like to suck on for a week”), bring more than 1.21 gigawatts of collective electric personality to our homes every morning and that kind of radiance would be a perfect fit for a city that sucks power from the Earth’s oceans and uses it to power a myriad of hotels, residences, mad scientists’ schemes, and one million Tim Hortons outlets.

3)  Did I ever tell you about my Aunt Lynne?  She was an educated woman and her advice to me rings true to this day: “If you ever find yourself stuck while writing a list, just distract the reader with a childhood anecdote. Works every time.”

Aunt Lynne was a woman ahead of her time. It’s too bad we had to send her away to a “farm” after she started adding far too much Sherry to her baking and starting licking mailmen…

2)  They’re all about the facts.  Niagara Falls is a city built around a natural wonder, shrouded in mystery and legend, but we embrace the cold, hard truth as much as anyone. The cast of BT shoot from the hip, and in a media landscape dominated by the likes of CNN (“Don’t worry about the facts, folks… Lord knows, we don’t.), BT stands alone as a bastion of truth.

Consider last Friday’s remote interview with Mayor Jim Diodati that inspired this very post: ‘Frozen’ Niagara Falls draws tourists to winter spectacle

I’ve burned through far too many hours of my work days this week correcting tourists who were itching to see the “Frozen Niagara Falls” that CNN promised them. Among the many colorful responses I received from my deeply disappointed guests:

“What do you mean? CNN said they’re frozen solid! I was going to take my kids ice skating! Son of a bitch”

“That damn Anderson Cooper!”

“That’s it, I’m getting my gun!”

Seriously. Americans, especially American housewives, are serious about their vacations. My point is this: BT got the straight skinny from the mayor himself. Put that in your hat and smoke it, Wolf Blitzer.

And finally…

1)  Breakfast Television is the best damn morning show on any continent, in the history of television. Period.  Who else are we going to partner with, Good Morning New Jersey? We have great respect for raw power in Niagara and the entire BT team, from Kevin Frankish, Dina Pugliese , Jenn Valentyne, Winston Sih, Frankie Ferragine, and Melanie Ng deliver day after day! (And Brad  Smith really tries.) We’d make a great partner, gang; we’re housebroken (mostly), well-mannered (until 10 am each day) and gosh darn it, people like us.

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 This is the partnership the Bible prophecized, after all. (What Book, you ask? I’m a blogging bellman, folks, I’m too busy to fact check. Just trust me, all right?)

That’s all I have, kids. Here’s hoping my impassioned, rambling, deliriously-brilliant plea reaches the right people and Breakfast Television: Niagara Falls becomes a reality once a week. Maybe they’ll even give a certain blogging bellman a few minutes to spread his unique genius across the airwaves?

After all, according to my family, I’m perfectly tolerable in small doses.

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Ten Things You May Have Forgotten About Steve Guttenberg.

Aw, who are we trying to kid? Our society is all about short-term gratification; you’d forget your family, your youth and even the need to eat and defecate if it wasn’t for the fact you discuss those very things all day on social media.

But there’s no excuse for letting the awesome power of God’s majesty that is Steven Robert “Steve” Guttenberg slip from your memory. To be fair, I’m as guilty as anyone – but I’ve already had myself flogged, forced to endure two hours of water torture, been strapped to a chair while watching seventeen hours of Kanye West videos, and thrown into a pit filled with hot dogs and puppies hopped up on Red Bull. Of course, it was a Tuesday so I would have done that anyway.

But I digress.

My point is, I was recently reminded of the sheer joy one can experience while watching “The Gutte” channel the gods of theater and mirth, and I must say, it is glorious. (FYI, some indivuduals use one the moniker “Gute”, but one “t” is insufficient to honor such a modern-day demi-god properly,  so I’m going with two, Get over it.)

There is no tribute I can offer that would be fitting of The Gutte’s contribution to all our meager lives. I had considered a sacrificial offering of virgins, but they’re in frightfully short supply these days, thanks to Christian Grey and his cinematic shenanigans. All I have to offer are my words and some “facts” I’ve dug up from the darkest corners of collective human memory and darkened corners of the interweb.

10)  It is established lore that Steve Guttenberg’s cinematic career has spanned nearly four decades of human existence. In that time, he has served as an actor, director, writer and producer. But did you know he was cast in the German-produced film version of Tim Burton’s Batman, “Gutten-Bat”? And yes, David Hasselhoff was the Joker.

9)  At the height of his charisma, and even to this day, the name “Steve Guttenberg” is only uttered in hushed whispers, as it will often cause women to spontaneously orgasm uncontrollably. It’s true, I once met a guy who worked as Bubba Smith’s mustache wrangler on the Police Academy movies (it was an easy job; he just had to feed it white women every twelve hours), and he told me he lost three wives that way. Tragic. And yet, incredibly cool.

8)  For a time, Guttenberg took a young apprentice named Carlos Irwin Estévez under his wing, instructing him in the fine art of copulation. However, his young charge failed to heed his master’s warnings and flew too high too fast, resulting in entire hospital wings filled beyond capacity with young women with ruptured lady parts. The young cocksman became  the train wreck known as Charlie Sheen. The Gutte loved the world and women in general too much to allow his teachings to be perverted and so he closed the world off from his particular brand of magic. Thanks, Charlie.

steve-guttenberg

The Hook is honoring The Gutte? Are you serious?

7)  The Gutte dominated the Eighties with three film franchises: Police Academy (1984), Cocoon (1985), and Three Men and a Baby (1987). All total, his various series generated enough revenue to rescue the United States of America from certain doom. Turns out Ronald Reagan lost the entire country in a poker game with Mikhail Gorbachev in Tijuana in 1986. Fortunately, Guttenebrg stepped in and saved Ronnie’s ass (and not for the first time). It was in the history books, but as you know, no one reads books anymore so you may have trouble verifying it.

6)  There is an entire language devoted to Guttenberg’s creation, Carey Mahoney. It was lost to the ages along with the society that spawned it, Mahonia. You won’t find evidence of Mahonia’s existence anywhere; it disappeared along with Atlantis and any and all medical professionals who have ever delivered a Kardashian. We know little about Mahonia’s inhabitants but one thing is certain; they threw some bitchin’ parties.

5)  In 1980, Guttenberg starred in a Coca-Cola commercial which featured him trying to help a non-English-speaking woman whose car stalled. In the original version, The Gutte merely approached the car and the motor roared to life. So did the woman’s.

4)  Guttenberg took part in the 2008 spring season of Dancing with the Stars but was eliminated on April 1 when he made host Tom Bergeron question his own sexuality.

3)  In a related story, the ABC network was pressured by its blood-sucking lawyers to fix the results of  Dancing with the Stars and eliminate The Gutte when they discovered millions of golden aged women were dropping dead after experiencing their first orgasm in decades after watching The Gutte trip the light fantastic. A nursing home in New Jersey lost its entire female population in one night. Not that anyone cared.

2)  The Gutte was originally cast in Pretty Woman opposite Julia Roberts but producers had to bring in that Gere guy when Eric Brockovich found herself unable to remain vertical in Guttenberg’s presence.

And the number one fact you may have forgotten about The Gutte…

1)  He’s Steve Freakin’ Gutteneberg!

He’s Mahoney! Police Academy was released in 1984, grossed approximately $146 million worldwide and spawned six more films that still make people laugh in a day and age when we spend more time obsessing over the darkness rather than basking in the light. I was fourteen when I first saw Police Academy and my buddies and I all wanted be The Gutte.

He founded and funded Guttenhouse, an apartment complex in South Los Angeles where young people can reside after their graduation from foster child status, with on-site social worker direction to assist their transition to adulthood.

Sure, there are those who dare to question the strength of The Gutte’s current powers. Those people should be beaten and locked in a room with a pack of Kardashians.

The Gutte is cool and always will be.

The Gutte exemplifies all that is good about humanity.

The Gutte makes us laugh.

The Gutte follows me on Twitter. (Okay, so he doesn’t, but wouldn’t that be cool? Then we could actually become friends and hang out together. He could star in the television version of my blog and win awards and we could hang out after those awards and party until we blacked out and woke up in Mexico wearing sombreros and original series Star Trek uniforms.)

But I digress. I do that.

The Gutte is one of God’s most magnificent creations. Angels weep in his presence.

Enjoy the gift of knowledge I have bestowed upon you, my fellow mortals.

See you in the lobby, kids. I’ll be the one watching Police Academy when I should be working. For the 500th time.

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Rooms 4054 – 4056: Everybody Hates Eddie

It’s a Murdoch Mysteries Monday. A Gotham Monday. Family Day in Ontario. President’s Day in the United States. The day after the star-studded 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live. Heck, for all I know, it’s National Hug a Hedgehog Day, that’s how overloaded this Monday appears to be.

So, in the spirit of celebration, I present to you now a celebration of life in all its glory, shame and naughty fun, courtesy of my unique customer service skills.

We’ve covered this before but in an age of sensory overload courtesy of tech addiction, our minds have been conditioned to dump information as fast as we draw it in, so it bears repeating: A bellman’s duties, in no particular order, include…

  1.  Loading and unloading a guest’s vehicle with precision and speed. (You’d be amazed how many bags can fit into a Honda when packed correctly.)
  2.  Navigating a sea of Red Bull-addicted rugrats, cougars, hockey parents, gamblers, escorts, and a veritable minefield of luggage, coats, and coolers in the lobby and hallways in order to reach a guest’s room within fifteen minutes.
  3.  Answering phones in a clear, confident tone – while conversing with a bevy of idiots.
  4.  Ensuring the guest has everything they need to make their stay both memorable and crisis-free.
  5.  Taking a metaphorical bullet for a guest.

Longtime readers of my blog and Twitter account (all ten of them), aren’t rolling their eyes right now… but everyone else is. Let’s see if I can convince the skeptics among you, shall we?

The Bell Desk, You Pick a Day, 11 am.

ME:  Bell Desk, Robert speaking. How may I help you? (Isn’t it cool how I made it apparent that I was answering the phone? #Genius.)

EDDIE, THE MOST PUT-UPON SON-IN-LAW OF THEM ALL:  Uh, yeah.. I need a bellman –

VARIOUS BACKGROUND VOICES, ALL SCREAMING:  EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! (You get the point, right?) ARE YOU GETTING THE CAR TOO, EDDIE? OR ARE YOU GOING TO SCREW THAT UP TOO?

Many hospitality professionals advocate a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach when dealing with guests; the popular belief being that a true professional should ignore the elephant in the room (or, in this case, over the phone), in order to put the guest at ease.

ME:  I’m guessing you’re having a challenging morning, sir?

Many hospitality professionals have never heard of The Hook, nor would they approve of me if they did. But screw ’em, my methods have stood the test of time. And besides, you know what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Unless you desperately need the work, then you should go to town on it with a hammer in order to put food on the table for your family. What, you never heard that expression?

Moving on…

EDDIE:  (Quietly.) Uh, yeah… you have no idea.

Eddie was having a helluva time releasing the words from his throat so I made it easy for him. I arranged for his family’s cars to be delivered and I headed up to his group of rooms. Eddie was just as I imagined; a short, mousy, thin white guy with black, messy hair.

What I couldn’t have imagined was Eddie’s wife: A statuesque, gorgeous, raven-haired, drop-dead-gorgeous, toned, gorgeous young wife named Janet. Did I mention she was gorgeous? And well-mannered and sweet to the bellman? Because it bears mentioning, especially when you consider that the average gorgeous wife is indifferent to the bellman, not sweet and well-mannered. But Janet was the towering, gorgeous exception to the rule.

Her family, however, was a different story all together. Mom and dad were Ward and June Cleaver clones – from Hell. Their clothes were upscale and modern but their minds were locked into a simpler time with simpler values… that no one wants to see return. Grandma and grandpa were equally creepy (though their clothes hadn’t been in style for decades), and even more outspoken. Great-Grandpa (don’t these people ever die?), was cranky as hell but I issued him a pass for being older than whoever decided to call dirt “dirt”. Janet’s two brothers and sisters were nice enough. To me. Although, to be fair, they were too busy busting Eddie’s balls to bother with the bellman.

Check out some of the slings and arrows Eddie suffered in a manner of minutes.

“The room was too hot, I thought I was going to liquify into the bed, Eddie!” – Grandma

“The room was too cold, Eddie… I froze my nuggets off!” – definitely not Grandma

“I wish you’d woken us up earlier. We hate being rushed! Old people have heart attacks when they rush around like young whippersnappers. You should have more consideration!” – Great-Grandpa

 “I have no idea why my daughter bothers with you, Eddie. You must be hung like a stallion!” – Mom (Yes, mom.)

“Can we just get out of here so we can forget this trip ever happened?” – Brother #1

“I’ll never forget this trip… it’s burned into my memory.. that’s how bad it sucked!” – Sister #2

And on they went… and on… and on. Honestly, I zoned out as I loaded my cart beyond capacity; a single thought ringing in my head.

“This poor bastard would make Al Bundy feel sorry for him!”

I did my best to wrangle the family from Hell under my control and get them out of my hotel as fast as I could.

ME:  Okay, folks, I have everything loaded up. I know you all want to get going so you can begin to erase this trip from your collective memory so why don’t we head out?

SISTER #2:  We’re not done busting my sister’s husband’s balls yet!

JANET:  He’s your brother-in-law and you’ve all done enough, thank you very much.

DAD:  We’ve barely started, honey. Besides, your husband has to learn to stand up for himself.

ME:  With all due respect, sir (when beating a guest back, always start with “with all due respect”),  I’ve been where your son-in-law’s standing and there’s a fine line between standing up for himself and creating family disasters he’ll have to hear about at every get-together for the rest… of his… life.

JANET:  Finally, someone with sense! Let’s go, family! You’ve embarrassed me enough.

I swear every single member of Janet’s family rolled their eyes simultaneously. And that’s quite a feat for the older folks. As for Eddie, he just stood out of the way with his head down in the metaphorical trenches, no doubt praying for an end to the day’s hostilities.

But once we all jammed into the elevator, like human sardines (“Hardines”? “Sumans”?), it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. The trip took forever, as the elevator kept stopping at EVERY. SINGLE. FLOOR. As I explained the obvious to frustrated guests, Eddie’s tormentors kept nipping away at his testicles. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer.

ME:  (To Eddie in a quiet voice.)  The next time you’re in Niagara Falls, sir, you owe me.

The complaints were flying fast and furious but I brought the conversation to a halt.

  “Boy, everyone sure looks tired this morning. I’m sure beat. I was in such a rush this morning, my usual fifteen- minute shower had to be compressed. And you know what? I was so preoccupied with getting to work on time that I forgot to masturbate!”

I even punctuated my revelation by slapping my right hand against my head. (Acting!)

And that, boys and girls, is how you make an impression on guests.

As for the family from Hell, they just stood there speechless, their jaws gaping wide. Finally, they had something else to agree on besides their mutual hatred of Eddie: The bellman was nuts.

Right on time, the elevator opened, the family picked up their jaws and headed out. Eddie and Janet ponied up an appropriate tip, shaking their heads all the while.

Don’t ever tell me I’m not willing to go above and beyond for my guests. And their money.

See you in the lobby kids…

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The Huffington Post Canada Hates Me.

(It’s not really a title. Just a statement of fact.)

How about…

“The Most Anti-Valentine’s Day Post Ever”?

No? Well that’s all I have. Let’s get this sucker started, shall we?

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

It’s the same old song and dance for yours truly.

Let’s begin with a memorable Valentine’s Day quote in the form of a piece of advice I felt compelled to bestow upon a young man who was…. well, the quote speaks for itself, but I’ll elaborate in a moment.

“As a man, self-punishment is always going to have its place in your daily regiment… just keep it away from my hallways and you’ll live a happy, long, productive life, son.”

All right, so the obvious question is, “What the hell was that all about, Hook?”

The answer to that query lies, frustratingly enough, in another quote, one uttered between ragged gasps, and at full volume.

“YES… YES…. YES! I’M THE BADDEST… SEXIEST… BITCH OF ALL TIME! YOU’RE…. NEVER…. GOING BACK… TO YOUR… WIFE… AGAIN!”

And now, some context.

I arrived on the twenty-eighth floor this morning at 9 am, fully prepared to retrieve luggage for a stereotypical family, but when I emerged from the service area the aforementioned second quote filled the hallway.

And was repeated several times.

I dropped my head in a mixture of glee and disgust when I first realized just what I was listening to, and so I was still moving when I lifted my head, glanced down the hall and saw him.

He was a mere waif of a lad, attired in rumpled, stained clothes, with greasy hair and giant running shoes that cost more than my entire uniform. Just picture any of the lily-white boys from “Leave It to Beaver” after they’ve been cross-bred with any of the lads from “Malcolm in the Middle” or Oliver Twist.

Now picture any of them engaging in self-pleasure.

(Upon further reflection, don’t do that… you may wind up incarcerated.)

The act in question took place in the middle of the hallway, specifically, outside the room in question.

There was a housekeeper’s cart four rooms down, but otherwise, the hall was vacant save for us two. Fate wouldn’t have had it any other way, right?

 Any other bellman would surely have turned tail and ran. Or called security. Or swiped a bottle from room service and drank the memory away. But not me.

Not that I didn’t think about it. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t approach the situation with professional courage.

“Hey… uh… sir? Could you not do that here? Please?”

I know, I’m an animal. But the horny beggar carried on… carrying on, despite my bellman bravado.

“Little fella? I really need you to put away your…. ‘little fella’ away and move on. Okay?”

More silence. With the exception of the looped “sexy” declaration and the worst copulating soundtrack ever. Just imagine trying to get down and dirty to this tune…

Yep.

But back to Dennis the Horny Menace; he was so entranced by the sexy shenanigans unfolding on the other side of the thin press-board door he simply turned away from me without missing a beat. Literally. And so I did the only thing I could.

I went into service area, grabbed a spray bottle of “green mystery cleaning fluid” (the trademark is pending on that, so back off!), and sprayed the sticky little devil down until he snapped out of it. Once he calmed down – and zipped up – I escorted him to the elevator and dispensed my sage wisdom.

He then boarded the elevator and flipped me the bird as the doors closed.

And that was my first call of Valentine’s Day 2015. After that, it was one of those “Yes, that really happened”-type of days.

1)  I brought in a couple who are, at this very moment, no doubt defiling a life-size teddy bear. Seriously, the way they were eying that teddy bear would make Charlie Sheen shudder. And Charlie’s done things they outlawed in Tijuana decades ago.

2)  An older guest was seeing red for all the wrong reasons as I loaded his bags up. He muttered something about being misdirected while parking but sometimes it’s best to not to indulge a raging guest when you’re not in a position to actually resolve the situation. So I let him vanish into the hotel while I stored his bags and five minutes later, he’s in the lobby ranting and raving to a manager about the poor service he received. (Not from me, fortunately. Though to be honest, I wouldn’t have dropped to my knees in despair if I had been informed that I had failed to meet this schmuck’s expectations.)

3)  A gentleman answered the door dressed as Little Bo Peep. He had hired two escorts to be his sheep. (I can only assume his bags were filled with shears and sheep feed.) The worst part? This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this scenario.

Obviously, I’d be a fool to try to follow that, so I’m going to wrap things up here. I’ve had a strange day; I’ve found myself humbled, and to be honest, enraged by another writer’s success. Don’t get me wrong, this was the first day I became aware of the writer in question, but they seem to be completely deserving of their success.

But I’m tired of failing at everything I set my sights on. I’m tired of sites like the Huffington Post Canada ignoring me; rejection isn’t as bad as being ignored, truthfully. I’m tired of seeing some of the most inane drivel imaginable make it to television while executives and publishers continue to deny my existence.

I’m just tired.

So from now on, I’m going to accept that a large portion of the world thinks I blow harder than a porn star… on any given day, really. I’ll write for myself and the world can suck it.

And in that romantic note, I bid you all farewell.

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