Running Title: Heads In Beds – A reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality
A few weeks ago, I was looking up a book to fill a reserve for a patron, and interestingly enough came across Heads simply because it was carrying the identical call number (647.9409 T) and yes, after reading the running title, it intrigued the hell out of me. Aye, and there you are thinking I was kidding about working in a library. For some reason, the running title reminded me of Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica (which was reviewed earlier … somewhere below … feel free to take a look … go on, I promise you this posting will still be here … scout’s honour) and so I was drawn to it like a randy, starving, shipwrecked sailor into the loving arms of a voluptuous but deadly Siren (ah, but what a way to go). Needless to say I was not disappointed.
Now I’ve done my bit of travelling though not as often and as much as I really, really, should. And in most of my travels I’ve always been fortunate to find lodgings with relatives or mates (who were rightfully and gratefully compensated … yes, I believe in fairness and doing the right thing and all that cuddly bollocks). Hence I was spared the craziness of the hospitality in hotels, which in my limited imagination was mostly about crappy rooms, questionable room service and the possibility of being intruded upon by housekeeping whilst in the nude (possibly stemming from a night of too much pints … for there is no way on this green earth I would dare sleep in the nude on hotel beds … especially after having read this book).
Heads In Beds (I know there is a sick perverted joke in there somewhere) sort of ripped open my eyes to what goes on behind the (so-called) hospitality service scene which apparently have less to do with actually hospitality and more to do with the bottom line (there’s a shocker). For some reason, Expedia and other forms of discounted hotel bookings don’t rank very high in priority, since they figure you’re already getting a discounted room and you should just be oh-so-bloody-grateful. I say piss off. Quite a sad state of affairs. A memoir, an expose and in some cases the inside scoop for travelers who really want to get the most out of their traveling experience. Sort of beats going back home and lying to your co-workers about your experience (you know, getting mugged in Rome and still telling your mates with a straight face that that they HAVE got to go there and other such lying bollocks). Now if you’re one of those that like to drink while you read you might want to put that drink away for there are moments of hilarity and shocking revelations that will make you spill your drink. A taste you say … why not: apparently there are 101 uses for lemon-scented furniture spray, so be careful of that lemony scented taste you get from the glasses at the mini-bar (yeeeaaaaahh). Also, if you’re being a complete wanker or tosser to the hotel staff, be sure to secure your toothbrush and other dental hygiene utensils (hint: think of the term butt flossing/scrubbing). Did you spill your drink reading this review? My deepest apologies.
Now beyond the eye-popping revelations of hospitality-service hygiene, there are mini-stories that are touching, hilarious and even mind-boggling as you get to see the camaraderie that is shared amongst the frontliners of this industry. And on the other hand we get to see the devolution of manners, decency and humanity in the way people treat each other. Ah, where is an earth-ending alien invasion or apocalypse when you need one? I know, as a public “servant”, on a given day I encounter many gems that could fill several hardcovers (and maybe I just will … maybe). The sad truth is what I’ve encountered from segments of my delightful public is nothing but a tip of the iceberg what most folks endure in the hospitality-service industry (something I learned about having read Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dime … is also posted somewhere below). Overworked, underpaid, verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse, and, depending on the wanks in management, the occasional mindscrew. Aye, there is also the ever so classy … sexual harassment. You know, the occasional codger that just happens to waddle out naked when female housekeeping shows up and other such twisted bollocks (usually some “pillar of the community”).
There are several characters that are delightful and intriguing and are truly unforgettable such as the Gray Wolf and Roy (a housekeeper with celebral palsy and a pistol tattoo). Though there may be a paragraph or two worth about Roy, I promise you that he will stay with you throughout the entire book causing you to snicker occasionally. Or maybe it’s because I’m easily amused. The schemes and hustles though seemingly shady, as you read deeper into the book, seem anything but as you “experience” what these hardworking folks put up with to accommodate the traveling public. And yes, though I don’t make CEO quid, I understand times are tough and I don’t mind tipping for services rendered. So whilst my Hotwire booking may render me low in priority on the hospitality totem pole, according to wanks in the management, I am sure the desk agents, bellmen and even housekeepers would appreciate my tips from the surplus saved from my discount booking. Like I said earlier, piss off.
Beautifully written and filled with colourful characters and gems, Tomsky takes you on an emotional roller-coaster, ripping open your eyes like McDowell in Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange to the world beyond the check-in desk and in a sense, possibly educating us for our future traveling adventures. Yes, decent manners and the willingness to part with a few quid can do wonders. Even if you’ve booked with Expedia. On the other hand, being a complete wanker and a bit stingy can find you in a room (that is just like every other room) with no view next to the noisy elevator. Especially if you’ve booked with Expedia.
Thanks for sharing a bit of your soul and the heads up, Mr. Tomsky (do you mind if I call you Mr. Tomsky?). Some of us are better for it. Even though we’ll still be using Hotwire … or Expedia.