Jacob Tomsky spent over ten years working in the hospitality industry, and in that time, well, let's just say he's seen a whole lot more than the average guest does. In his new book Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, And So-Called Hospitality, Tomsky gives an inside look at just what it takes to survive the business, whether you're a guest, a parking attendant, or a concierge. In this appendix from his book, Tomsky discusses rules by which every guest should abide. How many do you keep?
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Do not continue your phone conversation during the entire check-in. Can you imagine how it feels, as a human, to be part of someone else’s effort to multi-task? While they say to the phone, "Uh huh. Yeah. Yeah, well I told her they wouldn’t go for it. I know these people," I get the lift of an eyebrow, side glances, brief and uninterested head nods thrown in my direction indicating your main focus remains on your call, perhaps a moment where you hold the phone slightly away from your ear to benevolently allow me five percent of your attention. That call will in end in five minutes. But, because you treated me like an automatic check-in machine, this room I’m giving you will plague your whole stay. And also I key bombed you.
Do not snap the credit card down on my desk. You know this one: Where you press the card down with your thumb and use your index finger to bend the front corner of the card up and then release it so it snaps authoritatively and loudly on my desk? You just made me hate you!
Do not try to describe someone without ethnicity when ethnicity could be key. "I gave my claim check to a bellman and he never came back." "What’s he look like, so I can go find him?" "Well... he was kind of tall. Not too tall. Heâ€¦ I don’t know, I don’t think he had facial hair. Maybe mid-thirties. I mean, he was dressed like a bellman, but I guess that doesn’t help. Um, well, he wasâ€¦ about as tall as you?" "Ma’am, was he white, black, Asian?" "Oh, well, Asian." "Okay, that was Jeremy. I’ll go find out what happened."
Do not make me use your cell phone. Sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes the person on your phone has the CC info I need or the confirmation number. I just don’t want to use your cell phone. But I guess I have to so, here, give it to me.
Do not bring up the beautiful weather to people stuck inside at work all day. That’s just one tough side-effect of working in a business that accommodates people on vacation. Vacationers, god bless them, sometimes forget that the whole world isn’t on vacation too. "Oh. My. GOD!! It is so gorgeous in Central Park right now!! Look at it out there!! Just look at it!!" Are you playing with me? Look at it? Just look at it? You must be aware that all I can do is look at it, just stare out the lobby doors and wish to high hell I wasn’t working. Next time I have a vacation I’m going to come to your office and rub it all over your face.
Do not ask your husband to ask me something when I can hear you asking him to ask me because I am standing right here. This one kills me. "Oh, honey, ask him for extra towels." Usually the husband will just turn to me and raise an eyebrow. If I’m feeling slightly confrontational (or froggy as they sometimes say in New York) I will just stare back at him. I’ll make him do it. Come on, honey, ask me.
Do not hold out your hand for the change you’re waiting on. You know, when I am still counting it out but your hand is there, in front of me, floating in the air, waiting while I count, empty, implying impatience and uselessly reasserting the fact that the money I am counting belongs to you. Relax buddy. It’s coming. You look like a five-year-old with your hand out like that.
Jacob Tomsky is a dedicated veteran of the hospitality business. Well-spoken, uncannily quick on his feet, and no more honest than he needs to be, he has mastered every facet of the business, worked in many departments, and received multiple promotions for his service. Born in Oakland, California, to a military family, Tomsky now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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