A long time ago, in the late ages of black and white TV, Bunk worked in the service industry. Grunt jobs in restaurants and hotels. Pot washer. Busboy. Bellhop. Toilet scrubber. Shag carpet raker. Drunk patron helperouter
I was one of three bellhops wearing Hilton monkey suits. Think of three PeeWee Herman/Eddie Haskell type weasels lurking just inside the front doors of a fancy hotel. We were like that.
Besides humping bags all over the hotel, we ran room service and operated a satellite AVIS car rental desk. We were paid less than minimum wage as we were expected to make up the rest in tips.
We got creative.
Next to the bellhop stand was a stack of complimentary newspapers for the hotel guests. Upon that stack, I set a clean ashtray salted with a few quarters. One of our duties was to keep the ashtrays clean… On good days, we’d score $10 apiece.
When work was slow and someone asked us to call a taxi, we’d offer to drive them for half the price of YellowCab, using one of the AVIS rental cars on the lot. That was very lucrative for a while, and AVIS never checked the mileage or the gas gauge.
Then the hotel manager found out, squelched the operation, but didn’t fire us. Instead, he hired us to serve at his own 50-guest wedding party, hosted in the hotel’s ballroom, and then stiffed us on our 15%.
Drunks, although disgusting sometimes, puking in the hallways and elevators and such, were very good customers. We learned that you never cheat a drunk, because if he or she is still cognizant enough to catch on, he or she will become belligerent. We went out of our way to avoid that situation.
Happy male drunks are good tippers. If he wanted a prono mag, we’d leave the hotel and get him one. If he ran out of booze, we’d offer to save him the hotel’s mark up if he’d pay reasonable cost up front plus 20%. If he balked on that, we’d offer to drive him to the liquor store at half the price of a taxi.
Although we were all underage, we knew a liquor store owner who would sell to us. While ringing up our purchase, he’d keep one eye out the window for the police, and always handed us the bag with the caveat, “Here you go, boys. I don’t know you and I don’t know where you got this stuff.” He knew what we were doing, and since he was dealing in volume, he’d give us the beer/wine/booze at a discounted price.
Twenty minutes later we’d take the purchase back to Mr. Drinky, having charged him full price, and keep the liquor store’s discount plus the agreed upon 20%. Then Mr. Drinky would tip us. At this point, he was still ahead a coupla bucks over the 50% hotel markup, while we pocketed 30-40% for our trouble.
If Mr. Drinky was already passed out, we’d wait a day to see if he remembered the transaction. If he didn’t, we’d keep the stash and the bucks. Very cool, although it didn’t happen often.
Female drunks tip less, or not at all. We’d take bets on whether or not they’d bang into the floor-to-ceiling mirrors adjacent to the elevators. One belligerent woman, after not getting what she thought she deserved at the Front Desk, stormed away to the elevators, ignored her own approaching image, and knocked herself out cold. Instant Karma won me $15.
One other observation. I won’t go into specific details, but women are pigs in restrooms that they don’t have to clean themselves, and especially in high-class establishments. The womens’ restrooms in the Hilton were MUCH worse than those in Perkin’s Pancake House. Go figger.
Caveat: I don’t condone what we did as conniving teenagers. This is just a description of things that I participated in. Illegal? Partially. Unethical? Probably. Did we hurt anyone? No. Do I regret that I did it? Heh.
[This post originated as an off-topic comment on raincoaster’s blog o’ wonder.]