Mar 11, 2022

Hospitality Desertion Presents A Dream-Job Opening

Becoming a concierge has been a lifelong goal. For someone, probably

By Ed Goldman

I’ve decided that now may be the time for me to realize my lifelong dream of becoming a concierge, something that would require me to feign being a people pleaser. Here’s why. 

“Some 700,000 hospitality workers threw in the towel on average each month in the past year,” reported a recent issue of The Economist. “Bars, cafes and eateries are 1.3 million workers short relative to the 16.9 million employed before COVID-19.”

Edgy Cartoon

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Throwing in the towel? So! Even cabana attendants are calling it a day. We’re losing more than baristas who can’t spell and NAPA Auto Parts interns: 

INTERN: I think you can find lug nuts on aisle 12 or 79. What are they, exactly? 

YOU: The things that fasten a wheel’s hub to a car axle’s threaded wheel studs. 

INTERN: Okay. Then probably aisle 52. Or Aisle 9. Definitely on one of these aisles. This is my first day. 

The Wall Street Journal reported a day or so later that “People are going back to hotels. But with supply chain shortages holding up goods and workers quitting, the industry is having to figure out new ways to be hospitable.”

Friends, I’m glad I got here when I did.

I think it’s pretty understandable that if your career mandated your pretending the customer was always right, the threat of contracting a fatal disease from one of them could stanch your fervor to engage in positive guest relations. It’s why I never wanted to be one of those armorers in a western or gangster movie who gets his customers’ shopping bags all loaded up with pistols and ammo only to get shot by them.

But oh, to become a concierge! 

  • To be paid to draw incomprehensible area maps to guide hotel guests to nearby “authentic” eateries that I wouldn’t be caught dead entering (but might be, exiting); 
  • To be able to score tickets to shows and concerts anyone with a smartphone could easily obtain without feeling compelled to give me a tip; and 
  • To be able to go see those same shows and concerts thereafter for free because I’d done the promoter “a solid” as we used to say in my ‘hood (the mean streets of Bronx, New York, where I lived from ages 0 to 7.5, not the 10 p.m. rollup streets of Lakewood, California, my home from ages 7.5 to 25.8).

I have a feeling that if I were to be selected to be a concierge, this might be a good example of how my shift would go:

HOTEL GUEST: Hi, I was hoping you’d be able to get my wife and me tickets to “Hamilton” for this evening’s performance.

ME: “Hamilton”? But that’s a Broadway show, sir. You’re in Sacramento, California.

HOTEL GUEST: Whoa, wait a sec. It’s the road tour and we saw a sign coming in from the airport that it’s at your Community Center Theatre.

ME: It is?! Wow, that’s cool! Had no idea.

HOTEL GUEST: You had no—?

ME: I was off for a few days with COVID, but don’t worry. Not the bad kind. (Fumbling with the newspaper) Hey, you’re right! Son of a—

HOTEL GUEST: Look, can you get us tickets or not? And please stand at least six feet away from me. Why are you leaning in so close?

ME: Just trying to read your lapel pin.

HOTEL GUEST: I’m in Rotary!

ME: Yeah, I think we have a few chapters of those in the region. But what’s with the lapel pin? (I lean in closer and touch it)

HOTEL GUEST (Backing away): It’s my damn Rotary pin, you moron!

ME (Shrinking back, mock-offended): Geez, I thought you Rotary guys and gals were friendlier than this. (Picking up phone) Lemme just see if I can score you and the Missus a couple of tick-aroonies. (Winking) Assuming it is your missus, if you catch my drift.

HOTEL GUEST: Why you impudent—

ME (on phone): Hey, Iggie, m’man! It’s Ed at the Holiday Hyatt Marriott Express Motor Lodge and Woodshop. Ya got a coupla tix to “Hamilton” tonight for a Rotarian and his wink-wink/nudge-nudge wife?

HOTEL GUEST: That does it! I’m calling your manager and—

ME (still on phone): You do? Fifth row center? Iggie, you’re a genius! They’ll be at will-call and ask for the tickets in my name.

HOTEL GUEST (sufficiently gobsmacked): I–I–I don’t know what to say! You’re a genius! Thank you! (goes to shake my hand but I demur and point to my mask) Oh, of course! Well, ‘bye-‘bye! (runs off)

PHONE: If you’d like to make a call please do so. Otherwise, please hang up and re-dial.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).