The Ten Crack Commandments of the Bellman Brotherhood:
1. Do not talk about the Ten Crack Commandments. Ever.
2. Never throw a fellow Bellman under the bus.
3. If we split, we split EVENLY.
4. Get high on your own time.
5. Don’t shit where you sleep. Guests or Co-workers will fuck with your money.
6. If you’re going to do something stupid, don’t be stupid enough to get caught.
7. Cover my ass and I’ll cover your ass.
8. Never tell the front desk where you are or how much tips you made, doing so can and will be used against you.
9. $5 goes to the pot EVERY SHIFT.
10. If this is your first day, all your tips go to the pot!
That’s what Arod tells me as I slip $5 into a giant metal case bolted to the wall. He hands me a pair of black pants, a white button down shirt, a skinny leather tie, and a pair of black on black Chucks. I nod to everything he says and try to not look hung over, but I am. That’s how I got this job, I met Arod and his bellman brotherhood drinking at a bar down the street last night. I needed money and he said it’s easier than waiting tables. And after meeting the ladies at the front desk, I say it’s not so bad.
We’re eating bacon, egg, and cheese rolls in the bell closet as Arod tells me how he used to play college baseball until he injured his knee, dropped out, and has been here ever since. When I ask him how long, he says too long and continues eating his sandwich as he tells me the break down of tagging, logging, storing, organizing, and retrieving luggage. He hands me a fist full of luggage tags, a radio and ear piece, and a box of matches.
The radio clicks, ‘Bellman come in, we have an arrival!’
Arod leads me to the door and points out Cottonmouth, who’s chatting up some arriving guests as he holds their taxi door and passing over a loaded bellcart to our direction. Arod takes the collection of Luis Vuitton luggage and has me hold the door open. A mother and daughter pass as a man follows handing me $20 on his way to the elevator as Cottonmouth comes running back to the door smiling and telling me how the guy just handed him a $100 and to remember his face and take extra good care of him. He goes on to tell me that he’s been fired from the hotel three times, but he keeps coming back because the money’s good and the guest love him too much and he’s got some weed if I wanted to smoke later.
My radio clicks and it’s Arod. ‘You’re killin’ me Smalls, where are you? Meet me at the front desk!’
I guess I’m Smalls. ‘I’m on my way!’
The guests are still signing paperwork as I meet up with Arod by the elevator landing. He instructs me to stand by the elevator door and just smile, because the front desk usually takes a while. As the guests finally walks towards us, Arod signals for me to hit the elevator door button as the mans tells him their room number. Taking a step inside Arod pulls my shoulder and tells them that we will meet them at their room and will take a separate elevator. I smile and back up as the elevator doors close in front of me.
Knocking on the door of 1510 we announce ourselves, ‘Bellman’. The man answers and I hold the door open as he steps aside so Arod can grab the luggage off the bellcart and carry it inside. He takes a doorstop out of his back pocket and grabs my arm to follow him to get the remaining luggage off the cart. As we place the last piece of luggage he stops in the middle of the room and tells the man, ‘If there is anything else you need Sir please don’t hesitate to ask, I will be here for the duration of your stay.’
The man smiles giving Arod a firm handshake. And as I follow Arod out of the door, the man taps my shoulder and slips another $20 in my hand. I smile and close the door as Arod grabs the bellcart and heads for the elevator.
On our way down to the lobby Arod asks me if I’ve seen the pool yet. I shake my head and he presses 3. As we land on the floor Arod snakes around the corner and grabs a sign from the closet: ‘Our apologies! Currently in Service!’, places in front of the Men’s room as we walk inside and lock the door. He pulls out a stack of money out his pocket and rearranges it into two piles on the counter, one larger stack of smaller bills and one thin stack of larger bills. He places the money in different pockets and pulls out a small glass vial from under the sink, grabs his key ring, and does two bumps. He offers me a hit and I shake my head as he hides his stash. He unlocks the door and walks me towards the pool.
No deeper than 4 feet and no longer than three yards, the pool was more like a big bath tub with a shrimp cocktail of long tanned legs in thin string bikinis holding large breasts with pretty faces. They smile at us as Arod continues his tour. A Red-headed actress splashes a little bit of water on Arod as we pass her, who then stops to kneel to her whisper something in her ear. She kisses him on the cheek and waves at me as she sips on a pink cocktail. Arod smiles for the first time all day and heads for the exit as I follow right behind him as someone grabs my ass. I turn around and I see a blonde couple laughing. I smile and slowly close the door behind me.
Back in the lobby, I meet the Front Office Manager, a big German guy that resembles a panda with a crew-cut and little glasses. He tells me welcome on board and to not to worry about any drug tests. I laugh as Arod excuses us to go as we have luggage to retrieve. I grab the bellcart and follow him in the elevator. Pressing Lower Lobby and he then swipes his master key and presses P for Penthouse.
‘Smalls, do me a solid. Cover me for an hour. Watch the door with Cottonmouth for bit, the mid will be here soon. If anyone asks I’m delivering a package to a guest.’
We bump fists and the elevator closes as I turn around and walk towards Cottonmouth, who tells me about working on a fishing boat in Spain, then goes on to tell me about different varieties of fish you can buy in Barcelona, and then who to ask about pure MDMA in Ibiza, and then the a car pulls up. He runs and opens the door with a smile as a familiar face steps out of the cab. It’s Gift of Gab, the bell captain, also the same guy who offered me the job the night before. He takes off his sun glasses shakes hands with Cottonmouth and then walks towards me and gives me a fist bump.
‘Smalls! Nice uniform! Looking clean!’
I hold the door open as he asks me to follow him to the bell closet. He shows me how he starts out his day, making sure all the luggage is tagged, logged, and arranged properly. He goes over the parking log and explains why it’s important to right everything down. He hands me a pen and ask me where Arod went. I tell him he’s delivery a package to a guest.
‘This guest?’ He pulls out his cellphone from his pocket and shows me a picture of the Red-headed actress from the pool, her face reflecting against a mirror as she’s getting fucked doggy style. Under the picture it says: You owe me $50! ‘My lil’ bro’s a beast!’ He laughs, while looping his tie and securing his radio on his back as he walks me out of the bell closet.
At the door, he hands Cottonmouth a $100 bill and instructs him to show me where the closest deli is and hands him a list. Cotton’ bows before him and takes me with him to walk up the street. We pass three blocks and make a left by a park where he stops, lights a joint, and sits down. He passes the joint and I smoke it. He tells me that he grows it himself, then tells me about hydroponic systems, then tells me about proper cultivation and curing techniques, then the whole joint’s done. We walk three blocks down and reach a deli on the corner, he pays for everything and turn the corner and are back at the hotel.
Gift of Gab grabs the bag, takes a $50 out of the change, and gives the rest to Cottonmouth, who’s bowing before him again as Gift of Gab walks me back to the bell closet. He hands me Visine, Altoids, a packet of Tylenol, and the a small coffee. He adjusts my tie and tells me enjoy my first day of work and not take things to seriously.
I finish my coffee and walk back to the front door joining Arod and Cottonmouth, who’s telling Arod about different kinds of Jellyfish, then goes continues to talk to me about how he learned to make his own jam from some hippies in San Francisco, and then goes on about the many uses of Hemp as Arod hands me a bellcart and tells he we have a couple deliveries to make. Cottonmouth holds the door open for us and continues talking about Prop 420 as we make way to the concierge desk.
A giant resembling David Bowie loads the bellcart with small packages of chocolates, flowers, and fancy envelopes. He snakes around the corner and rolls a bellcart in my direction holding a collection of fruit baskets and gift bags and hands me a list. Arod tells me we’ll split the amenities, as he’ll cover all the small rooms, and for me to just deliver all the large items so I get familiar the types of suites we had. He tell me to get him on the radio if I had any questions and disappears with the chocolates and flowers.
Rolling my bellcart of fruit baskets and gift bags in the elevator, I figured I’d work from the top and make my way to the bottom. I swipe my master key in the elevator and press P. The elevator doors open to a complete room and I roll the luggage cart into it before the doors begin to close. I announce myself, ‘Bellman’ and no one answers. I look at my list and match the largest fruit basket to an alias ‘Jessica Rabbit’. Grabbing the the amenity something grabs me from behind. It’s the Red-headed actress from the pool completely naked with a towel wrapped around her head.
‘Oops wrong bellman! Sorry!’
I grab the fruit basket and hold it between us, as her freckled body silhouettes the plastic cellophane wrapping. She rips it open and dumps all the fruit on the floor and tosses balls of paper behind her as she fishes out a couple lipstick sized vials of white powder. She pulls on a drawers and takes out a picture frame and a straw and fixes herself a two lines and snorts one. Pointing the straw in my direction she offers me a line. I shake my head and she snorts the other and tells me I’m new. She throws the vials of coke in the drawer and hugs me and tells me to promise to not to tell anybody. I nod and begin to roll the bellcart towards the elevator as I watch her dance, her her hair and shaking her breasts in front of me as she smokes a cigarette and drinks a bottle a bottle of water. The elevator doors open and I step inside.
I reach the convention suites on the 17th floor, setting a collection of gift bags in one room, leaving a fruit basket on another, and stashing a couple more gift bags on a large glass table that appeared to be hanging from the ceiling. I park the bellcart by the elevator as I take a second to stop by the restroom to take a leak. I head for a toilet to avoid any guests and before I can unzip I hear moaning two stalls away. I slowly lock the door and try to stay quiet as the sounds of clothes ruffling against skin hitting skin and shoes scuffing on the marble floor mixes with heaving breathing and grunting with muffled moans. Then suddenly it stops, a toilet is flushed, and a door swings open. I lift up my feet as two pairs of yellow high heels with red soles clicks in front me, followed by a pair of bright brown leather shoes. The two wash up at the sink as I over hear the woman telling the man that they can’t keep doing this, that he loved her but can’t leave his wife, she thanks him for the shoes, but that she’s seeing someone else and it’s getting pretty serious, he tells her that he thought they were getting serious, and then I accidentally flush the toilet and they quickly run out of the room.
The last gift basket goes to the ‘General Manager’ and I grab my radio and ask Arod where to find it and he tells to press B for Basement. Out of the elevator make a right to an emergency exit, I back track and walk the other way passing two restrooms and a glass door. It’s locked and I push a door bell and get buzzed in. A room of cubicles lead to a glass room with black letters etched on the door. An Asian woman with long black hair stands up to introduce herself as the Executive Coordinator and takes the gift basket from me and tells me to take a seat. Her yellow high heels with red soles steps into the glass room and talks to a man sitting in a big leather chair. Before returning to her desk she asks if I would like some coffee or water, I refuse politely as a voice yells for me to come in.
The General Manager introduces himself and welcomes me to his team. He tells me that he started out as a bellman twenty years ago and worked his ass off and now gets to sit on his own chair. Before he can continue his cellphone rings and he turns his chair around to answer it. Five minutes pass and he gets up and starts yelling on the phone while guiding me to the door, and closes it behind me. The Executive Coordinator smiles and tells me to have a good day as she walks me out of the main door and back into the hallway.
I meet Arod and Cottonmouth in the bell closet who are counting their money on separate cubby holes. I empty my pocket and have nothing but the two $20 bills from the arrival. Arod counts $463 and Cottonmouth counts $580. Together they made $1,043. They split at $520 and Arod takes my $40 and stuffs in the metal box bolted to the wall. Cottonmouth reminds him it’s the end of the month and that it’s Arod’s month to take the pot. Arod radio’s Gift of Gab to open the box as Cottonmouth shakes my hand and stuffs a cigarette in my pocket as he walks out. Gift of Gab arrives with a key ring and unlocks the big metal box bolted to the wall. He pulls out a small box from inside and opens up a collection of fives and ones, counts it, and logs it in a little mole skin. Arod counts it $945. His total take for the day was $1,465. He hands me $100 and tell me to cover him while he ran to the bank.
At the door I see Cottonmouth in his regular clothes waving at me as he gets on his bicycle and disappears. Gift of Gab escorts an arrival as I stand by the door watching yellow taxis pass by and the open door for a mixture of Eurotrash tourists, Hipsters, and small celebrities. It’s almost three o’clock as the PM Bellman arrive: Face and Mic Check. Face tells me how he’s a former model turned actor as Mic Check tells me he’s a former model turned rapper. They one up each other, trash talk, and talk about sports, as they rotate taking arrivals and hailing taxis. Gift’ returns and asks me if I’ve taken my break yet. I shake my head and asks where the cafeteria is. He laughs and tells to take a pick between the deli and any other restaurant in the neighborhood.
Getting back from a cheap Sushi place that wasn’t as cheap as I thought, I walk back and see Face holding back Mic Check who’s about to charge at a guy that resembles Jesus. Gift’ grabs the guy and pulls him aside by the employee entrance. Passing them I overhear Gift’ tell him that he doesn’t work here anymore and that he’s not allowed to come near the hotel picking fights with people. Before he can finish telling him about calling the police, the guy vomits on the walkway and continues yelling at Gift’ about knowing his rights as Gift’ shoves him to the street and yells at me to radio security.
I don’t know what channel security is on, so I radio the Front Desk to call 911. All of a sudden I see the bearded guy charge against Mic Check and head-butt him in the nose. Mic Check’s nose explodes red blood. He swings at the bearded guy who falls face first on the sidewalk. Gift’ grabs Mic Check and takes him to the side of the building as security holds down the bearded man. I help Face keep the crowd of hotel guests and on-lookers away from the scene as the Front Desk Manager apologizes and requests for everyone to move along. An ambulance and police cars quickly arrive at the hotel loading zone. EMTs load the bearded guy on a stretcher as a uniformed officer talks to Mic Check who’s holding a gauze pad on his nose. EMTs tells Mic Check that his nose is broken and that they would have to take him with them. And soon enough the ambulance drives away.
Face, Gift’, and I rotate as a wave of arriving guests fill the lobby. I’m delivering luggage, hailing taxis, holding doors, retrieving luggage, storing bags for the bar patrons, running guest requests, and logging cars for valet. I don’t even realize that Arod has been back for a while now as we pass each other in the lobby, he’s with a loaded bellcart and I’m running a bathrobe to the pool for a VIP. After the delivery, I radio Gift’ and tell him I need to smoke a cigarette only to run into him a block from the hotel, smoking on a bench with the Asian girl from the Executive Office. She kisses him and leaves us, as Gift’ tells me not to smoke weed too close to the hotel. I put out the joint and he lights me a real cigarette.
Walking back to the hotel Gift’ tells me to see Arod to sign some paper work and then I can leave for the day. Arod meets me at the door and walks me to the bell closet, hands me a training packet, and asks me if I’m sure if I really want to work here. I hand him all the money from my pocket and tell him, yeah I’m sure. He tells me to keep it and to not to forget to clock out. I count my money: $203. I take off my radio and ear piece and hand it to Arod. He shakes my hand and I take the stairs to the locker room. As I take off my tie and unbutton my shirt, Gift’ comes through the door and sits me down,
‘Sorry to have to do this to you Smalls, but the over night guy called out sick. You’re going to have to do a double. Don’t worry, I got you a room upstairs to crash in for a few hours, so you can rest for bit. Room 703.’ His radio clicks and he runs out of the locker room.
I grab my back pack and take the service elevator to the 7th floor. I turn the corner and swipe my master key and walk in. It’s a suite, with a large sitting area, a balcony, and a king sized bed. On the night stand is a partially lit joint, a small box of matches, and a note: ‘Smoke on the balcony! Your next shift is at 12:00AM.’