Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Time at the Wharf

Ho, ho, HOES WHERE YOU AT? I need some booty to keep me warm. Oh, what? This thing is on?

Ahem, hello there. It's been a while, glad you stopped by to say hello.

Yeah, it's Christmas time again. You know what that means..... It's cold and I'm bored as shit at the hotel. Still angry though. Just trying to be nice to the guests, but some of these fools are making it difficult. I'm talkin' to you, nimrod who's been here the whole week. I've gotten your car a couple of times already -- so why on the day that you're checking out, do you act all surprised that I have to bring the car up for you? Is it because you don't want to tip? Doubt it, you haven't tipped all week, why would you start now? 'Sides, I don't bring up the cars for the tips (although they are greatly appreciated). No, I bring them bad boys up because of liability issues. We don't want you playing automobile pinball in the garage, dummy.  Capiche? Comprende? Can you dig it sucka?

And as for you. Foolio, who runs up to me when I'm about to run and get the car for the person that's ahead of you in line and says "here's one more for you" while shoving a claim ticket in my face..... 1. I might be one of the dopest valets ever to wear the vest and bow tie, but it's physically impossible for me (or anyone else for that matter) to drive two cars at once. 2. Get in the fuckin' line. You wanna cut to the front? That's a $20 surcharge payable to my monkey ass.

Oh, and here's the moron who answers "yes" OR "no" when I ask: "are you checking out, or coming back later?" IT'S NOT A "YES OR NO" QUESTION STUPID! Yes/no, you're coming back? Yes/no, you're checking out? Also, tell your evil twin to act right too. You know, the dufus who has the following conversation with me every now and then:

"Are you coming back later,  or are you checking out?"
"So, you're checking out?"
"No. We just need the car, but we'll be back later."
"Oh, okay. So, you're coming back later then."
"Oooooohhhhhhh. I get it now."

I know, I know. Some of you are thinking "maybe that fool thought that YOU thought he was returning a car". Wouldn't the fool be pulling up in his hooptie if that was the case? As the great Ed Lover would say, "C'mon son, get the fuck outta here with that no common sense havin' ass bullshit!"

At least the belligerent fucker with no claim ticket giving me the wrong name with the wrong room number hasn't come by today. Although, he was here on Tuesday. Mr. I'll Tip You Next Time hasn't been seen in a few days either. Also M.I.A. is the dude who parks next to the red car when you told him to park in front of the blue car. So not everything's bad. It's just boring, so the stupids stick out a little more this time of year.

So I'm stuck here wanting desperately to be nice to everybody because even an atheist like me gets into the Christmas spirit from time to time. But, dammit, it's fucking almost impossible at this hotel sometimes. If I could ask for one thing and one thing only as a Christmas present -- it would be for everybody (myself and co-workers included) to not be stupid for one day. Today's too late, maybe tomorrow. Please, I don't want to be an asshole on Christmas and tell you how much of an idiot you are in front of your kids because you kept driving forward and blocked the goddamned exit (yeah, I got blasphemous on Christmas -- I'm an atheist 'member?) after I told you to "leave the car right there. Why are you moving still? STOP!" If you give me that as a present, I promise not to bring up the wrong car or (for my valet buddies) I promise not to park cars all fucked up so you gotta make an 85 point turn to get a car out of a stall.

Merry Christmas to one and all,
Mary Xmas 2 1 n all  (I rote that 1 in dumazz 4 u dip shitz out their)

From BigFatRick the surly valet.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do I Look Creepy?

No really, do I look like a creep? I mean yeah, I'm a perv, but do I look like the kind of dude you wanna avoid on the bus? Check it out - the other day I was chillin' at the valet podium. It was dead so I pulled out the laptop and started lookin' at the Facebook, googling shit, checkin' emails, you know - doin' stuff on the internets that won't get me fired. Minding my own.

That's when about four old people walk over to me and one of the old ladies asks if I'm the guy that gets cabs. I tell her "no, the front desk can call you one or you can just flag one down when you see one. They come by every couple of minutes." She says, "well, what do you do then?"

"I'm a valet, I park cars and I retrieve them." I tell her.

Then her friend leans over to me, looks at my laptop (I was logged in to Facebook) and she says "you look at porn all day!"

Forgetting I was at work, I snapped back with "Jeez, not on the clock lady!"

Even I got limits you old bitch! (I didn't say that, remember: I have limits. I just got a big fat raise, I'm not gonna put that in jeopardy.)

But then I got to thinkin'...... Shit, that's not the first time I've been accused of being a freak on the job.

A few years ago when I was at the Swanky hotel, this Nigerian dude that sold bootleg DVDs pointed the finger at me. Motherfucker. He came by with all the latest shit like he did every weekend. Stuff that came out in the theaters the night before, good quality too. The other valets, garage guys, and even the uppity ass bellmen and doormen would snap his shit up.

He looks at me and asks why I never get stuff from him. "You don't like movies bro?" I tell him that I do like movies I just don't want the bootleg shit. I was fresh out of college with a broadcasting degree mind you, I had to take a stand for all the people behind the scenes who don't get squat when you buy bootleg shit.

The holmes looked at me like I was a fool. "I got DVDs I burned from Blockbuster too (it was '03 that shit hadn't gone belly up yet). It's just like a burned CD. You don't burn CDs and trade with your homies bro?" Fuck it, I decided to be a sport, so I took a look into his duffle bag. I gave it a shot, but it was too many. "Nah man, thanks I'm good."

He started to walk away. Stopped. Came back. "You wear glasses. You like the classics, documentaries, the smart guy shit. I got you bro." He pulls out a stack of old school movies (he must have had them organized by genre - this fucker was GOOD) he had stuff like Badlands, some Hitchcock, Taxi Driver, some other shit I never heard of that looked OSCAR worthy.

"Sorry man, I seen them shits."

"Okay bro." He walked away all dejected. He was almost completely out of the garage when it dawned on him. He came running back with a big ass smile on his face. Pulls me to the side, opens the duffle bag and goes straight to the bottom layer of DVDs.

He says to me in that thick ass Nigerian accent "YOU LIKE DA FREAKY SHIT!" and pulls out a couple stacks of porn. He had all kind of stuff, all the famous hoes. My eyes lit up for less than a second, then I remembered I was at work.

"Nah fool, I'm cool," I said with a smile.

One of the garage guys and the manager bum rushed the kid. "You never said you had this shit!" Said the underling. The manager of the garage asked for anything that featured huge titties. "You want just titties, no anal?" "Whatever, gimme all the big titty stuff you got." Homeboy bought like five or six videos.

Well shit, "if these fools don't give a fuck" I thought. So, I took a closer look. Nope, no badonkadonks, no big booty white girls, no shelf booties, shit - not even a 2 Live Crew retrospective. No sale.  Don't get me wrong, big titties is cool, but I'm an ass man. I was raised on hip-hop videos. Good hustle though, but how did that fool know I was a freak? At that time only my close friends knew I was a pervert.

The cat's outta the bag now I guess. Here pussy pussy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

R.I.P. Graveyard Shift: I Bid Farewell To Thee.

After nine years in the valet game, I lost an old friend. As of yesterday the graveyard valet shift at the hotel was permanently eliminated. Such a beautiful fucking shift, you will always have a special place in my heart.

The only reason I got a full time gig in the hotel valet division was because I was willing to work a 40 hour graveyard week. 11pm - 7am, Sunday to Thursday nights and the occasional Friday or Saturday night shift. I got so much homework done, in fact it was the only time that I EVER read all the required reading in ANY class, EVER.

I'd get there, let the swing shift guy be on his way, park the last few cars at the end of the night, maybe move some cars around so the morning guy wouldn't have to bust his ass too hard to get cars out, and run my reports. Then I'd read for my classes or write a rough draft of whatever paper was due for an hour or so, or until I'd get sleepy. That usually meant it was time to get some fresh air and take inventory of the cars in the garage and make sure all keys were where they were supposed to be. After all that was done, I'd read and read some more. Nothing to you maybe, but to a guy who absolutely refused to read from 1st grade until a couple of semesters before graduating from college - finishing a book in week was an accomplishment.

Ah graveyard shift, you gave me the gift of boredom to the point I had no excuse to not read. Thank you for making time stand still and allowing a slow reader like me finish my reading ahead of schedule. I owe my B.A. in large part to you.

But you also gave me much more. Like the realization that it's all the same day. When you're awake long enough to see the day turn into night and back to day 5 days a week - your concept of time changes, thus YOU change. You also get delirious very often. And that too was a gift. I often found myself (a deep introvert, especially back then) talking shit and participating in class. Almost like being drunk, I'd loosen up and let my soul out -  I'd speak and not just write down what was on my mind.

But even after I was able to move to swing and morning shifts, you still had my back. I used to could be off by 11pm and catch a few beers with the homies, or the good part of the house party, or just get to the taqueria before it closed. That was you looking out.

For the morning shifts, you'd ensure that I wouldn't start before 7am. Something I didn't truly cherish until the first time they took you away and I had to be at the garage at 6am - that extra hour of sleep really really does make a difference. But times got rougher and rougher, business got slow. They kept taking you away for longer periods of time - 3 months here, then 4 months the next year, 6 then 7 months in the following years. Now you're gone and I'm up by 5am the latest. 5am, that's when I used to break out the Discman (iPods hadn't come out yet) and we'd listen to a mix-CD and wait for the sun to come up as the seagulls feasted on whatever the garbage trucks dropped on the street.

After the streets came alive with traffic and pedestrians, the morning guy would come in and I'd go home. But I'd always come back to you even if I got put on a different shift. You were the anchor in that garage, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of the operation. Now from Midnight to 6am there is a void where my soul used to thrive.

Goodbye my sweet graveyard shift. I wish it wasn't so, I wish you could still be here guiding not just me, but the rest of the valet staff through the endless torrent of tourists and business folk.

I will miss you and all the random shit that I got to see because of YOU in the middle of the night.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tales From The Swank vol. 2 : EYE CONTACT IS KEY

It's been quite slow lately at the hotel. Well, the hotel is doing just fine, bidness is slow for the valets. I've done very little the last few weeks, except catch a cold and reminisce about better days long gone at the SWANKY hotel.

Ah yes, the Swank. My old stomping grounds - where the rich and famous cross paths with the down and out at the intersection where Union Square meets the Tenderloin. Oh, the things (and people) that went down in and around my beloved Swank hotel, and the lessons I learned at that peculiar little morsel of chaos that accurately represents what's so great yet profoundly fucked up with life in America.

But this here entry isn't about a political statement. It's about lessons learned, like how to spot a "working" girl, how to tell if said girl is actually a girl, and how to get a decent tip if the girl happens to be a non-girl.

Listen (um, read) and learn, I'm here to spread knowledge as often as yo mama spreads her legs. Aw don't get all offended, you know I'm truthin'. I parked the heifer's car two weeks ago and all the tell tale signs were there.

What are the signs of a car owned by a professional woman of the night you ask?

For starters most hookers drive a sports car or luxury car that's a few years old. Usually a little more beat up than a car its age should be (kinda like the ho driving the car), a large dent somewhere, maybe the paint's a little rough, the interior will no doubt smell like fruity (watermelon, peach, or strawberry) perfume futilely trying to mask the overpowering (but always welcome) smell of freshly smoked weed. The girl herself will be hot or at least she'll strut around like she thinks she's hot shit. If she's really blatant about it, she'll look like she's about to hit the stage at a strip club. Oh, and about half the time the steering wheel will either be sticky or have one of those funky ass furry covers on it that don't let you steer the car properly (explains the big ass dent).

The dead give aways: Stripper type clothes all over the interior. She forgets who the room is registered to. She may also forget the duffle bag full of sex toys in her trunk. She comes in after 10pm and leaves for good before 3am. You park her car on a fairly regular basis, but she never visits the same guest(s).

Every now and then you'll park a car and the tell tale signs are there, but something may seem a little askew. Maybe she has an adam's apple. Perhaps her voice is a little too deep, especially when she's not speaking so faintly that she's almost whispering. Maybe she has on so much make up that even a schmo like you knows she's trying to hide something. Look at the hands, given the aforementioned evidence, they will tell you the truth - do they look like she's been doing construction? Do they look strong enough to strangle a large ape? Are the veins on the back of her hand thick enough that Michael J. Fox can give her an injection without missing the mark? Yes you say? Well, then you should be smart enough to put two and two together Einstein.

Now, now don't act like that. We're all adults here. Valets are here to park cars not judge. Whatever deity, scientific theory, old school philosopher, or general superstition you believe in knows you've made your share of mistakes - that's why you're a valet - so don't act like you're better than someone who represents an opportunity for you to make money.  If you're smart and/or seasoned enough you'll tell Miss Mann all about the parking rates in the hopes that her john will come down later to pay the short term rate instead of the full overnight rate.

Now pay attention, this is how you turn a shitty tip into a $20 tip. When Mr. John comes down to pay for the short term rate and see his date off, you be polite as hell even compliment Miss Mann if you have to, then look Mr. John directly in his eye while smirking like "yeah, I know the deal". See if he doesn't pay you handsomely for your silence. I did this a gang of times at the Swank and it only failed me once, but that dude had absolutely no shame in his game. He even looked at me like "I don't give a shit who you tell, I had a good time and that bitch and your parking company took the last of my dough."

Alrighty then, go on with your freaky ass.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ferris Bueller

Alright, here's the deal. I know lots of people think they're funny bringing up Ferris Bueller to valets. Some of you even have a genuine fear of valets mistreating your car. We understand that if you've never had you car valeted, then you might be a little apprehensive giving a stranger the keys to your baby. BUT, unless you drive a 1960's Ferrari or any Ferrari for that matter, don't ever ever ever EVER say, suggest, insinuate, or accuse a valet (especially a hotel valet) of taking a car out for a joy ride. It's usually a union gig and we don't want to jeopardize our income for a few minutes of fun(?) driving your '97 Blazer in San Francisco street traffic. That shit ain't funny to us - you're not the first nimrod to come up with that joke. And if you're serious - go park across the street.

If you want your car looked after, babied, and/or kept up close, then tip. A dollar or two will get me to do what you ask if it's not busy. Three or four bucks will make me be a little more proactive. Five bucks will ensure that you get what you want, so long as the garage isn't completely stacked. Ten dollars will absolutely guarantee beyond the shadow of a doubt that you will get the parking space and treatment you want. $15 + and I will shoot anyone who looks in you car's direction. 

If you don't drive a $100,000 car, refuse to give me the keys, AND you're not tipping? I don't wanna hear shit about Ferris Bueller. I'll point out that Ferris was in a Ferrari and you drive an '89 Thunderbird with trash in the back seat and a piss stain in the passenger seat. And your CHECK ENGINE light's on.

Little bit of truth here - in my 9 years of parking cars, I've only had ONE person in a $100,000 car be rude about not wanting me to park their car. ONE. I've had people in Ferraris or the really high end Benzes and BMWs politely say that they would prefer to park the car themselves. That's fine, if I had even a $50, 000 car I wouldn't want some random dude driving my car. I wouldn't be rude about it though. (And before you even ask - from 2002 - 2004 I drove at least one $100,000 car every day working at a swanky hotel. These days though, I might drive a few in a year)

On the other hand - motherfuckers in the dirtiest, most fucked up, worthless pieces of shit will damn near fight me because they don't want me to touch their car. This happens at least once or twice a month.

This is key right here - if you're not down at all with a valet parking your car, ask the guy politely where the nearest self park lot is. I'm sure there will be one no more than a block or two away. And if you're not down with walking that far, then maybe you need to change your shitty ass outlook on life. I'm sorry, but when you bought your car it didn't come with a parking space to every last one of your destinations.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tales From The SWANK: Vol. 1 - Turned On/Turned Off

I've been on vacation the last two weeks, so my mind hasn't exactly been in valet mode. I've been thinking like a normal* person, and that ain't conducive to this here blog.
* -  Normal being relative of course, I wouldn't want anyone to think that I think of myself as a "normal" person who fits in decent society.

During said time off, though, I searched and searched for any and all writing from when I worked at a Swanky hotel in downtown San Francisco. I'm still looking, but all the partying and good times didn't erase too many memories. So, I'll write from memory because the most interesting stories from my life as a valet usually stem from the Swank.

Here we go:

At the Swank there were plenty of things to do. Plenty of nice cars to drive. Plenty of rich people to help. And if for some reason, there was nothing to do..... You could always bullshit with the doorman, a bellman, a limo driver, security guard, or fellow valet. And when you ran out of bullshit to tread, you could look at all the fine fine women walking by, into the hotel, or out of the hotel. Sorry if it sounds sexist, but this is what young men do when they have little in common or are bored to death. We look at girls.

Sorry, it's our default conversation.

"You like the new Jay-Z song?"
"No, I don't really like his style of rap."
"Right now, I'm really into old stuff like the Ramones and the Clash."
"Yeah, I don't know who they are."
"Well, what else you like?"
"Shit, that girl crossing the street. She's hot."
"Damn, you ain't kidding. Look at the way her butt has just enough wiggle, but no dimples."

I had some variation of this conversation multiple times a day for two years.

Anyway, you had to take in all the eye candy you could because there was a lot of ugliness out there where Union Square meets the Tenderloin. And no, I'm not talking about unattractive girls or even unattractive people in general. I'm talking about crackheads, homeless people shitting themselves, junkies begging for change, thieves looking to pick pockets or scam tourists. The type of stuff that can make your stomach turn if you aren't mentally prepared.

Even those of us who were just a hair less jaded than all the pushers in Tenderloin had to take a little time to enjoy a pretty face, an awesome rack, a perfectly shaped booty, or a hot girl covered in tattoos. You just never new what you were going to see next.

A gaggle of models checking in to the hotel one minute. And a crackhead tranny flashing the goods the next. Maybe a popular actress would ask you how to get to some fancy restaurant. And as you looked at her pretty face and tried hard not to look starstruck while you gave her directions - a grimey ass dude would walk by smelling like ass and wet towels. All of a sudden she ain't hungry and you ain't fantasizing about her inviting you up to her room after dinner because you're both trying desperately not to gag.

Sometimes the same person that turned you on turned you off. An attractive guest with a sour attitude. A beautiful singer that asked for the royal treatment, but didn't tip the room service guy, the dog walker, not even the staff in the bar after they shut the place down to the public so she could have an unscheduled "private party."

Or maybe a hot older lady would talk to you while she waited for the rest of her party to show up. Even though she was beautiful and had a great personality you wanted to get out of the conversation. Why? Because her boobs were huge, but the boob job was botched. You're dick didn't know if it should stand at attention or hang his head. Not that you minded fake tits (you were at the strip club the night before - silicone was your friend), it's just that there was too much implant and not enough skin to cover all that new boob. You could see the implant because the skin on the titties was too tight, so tight that it looked like the throbbing veins around them were supporting all the silicone. Mesmerizing, but not cool.

Sometimes the cosmos would all align just right. Some girl would come out and keep her smoker friends company. She might give you the "it's okay to talk to me" look and you'd walk over. You'd notice the tattoo on her leg and that gave you an in to a conversation. Maybe you'd find that you had tons in common and she'd tell you that you're great and that she's never met a guy that could make her laugh some many times within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. Then she'd throw you one of the nastiest curveballs ever by giving you her valet ticket and saying "can you bring up my fiancee's car? We're leaving in about fifteen minutes."

But most of the time you'd keep your mouth shut and nothing memorable would happen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks

Alright peebuzz, don't be alarmed - I'm still firey and mean, but it's Thanksgiving (well it just passed a few days ago and it ain't Monday yet, so it still counts) and I want to take a break from the generally pissed off nature of this blog to , well, give thanks.

You know, people always ask me things about my job. What's the coolest car I've driven. Have I ever parked a celebrity's car. What's the worst car I've driven. What's the craziest thing I've ever seen. Stuff like that. I try to answer those questions as best I can, but the truth is I've seen a lot of shit go down in the 8 (almost 9) years I've been a valet so I don't always give the grandest response. It's really hard to come up with a good story when you're not really dwelling on one because after almost a whole decade of doing this, very few things strike me as abnormal or even memorable. And in due time I will write about the many many bizarre, infuriating, funny, fucked up, baffling, and just plain memorable experiences I've had. Especially after I find the journal I kept when I was working the graveyard shift at a swanky hotel in downtown San Francisco.

But right now because it's Thanksgiving and because something memorable did happen to me earlier this year, I can share something for the occasion.

Some time around June or July, I was running around fetching people their cars. Hopping in and out of cars, handing people their keys, and collecting my tips. During a little down time I decided to get something out of my car. That's when I realized that I didn't have my car keys. The fuckers weren't in any of my pockets, the valet podium, or the lock box where we keep all the keys. I ran to my car hoping I had just left them in the ignition after getting to work half asleep. No dice, because I did remember that I had gotten somethings out of the car earlier AND the alarm was set. Can't do that without the keys.


I had only parked ONE car and the keys weren't in there either. I had, however, brought several cars up to the driveway - a few were supposedly returning and most were check outs.

I spent the day searching every car that came back later for my keys. Nothing. Asked the other valets to keep an eye out. Nothing. The next day and for the next few days, I spent all my down time searching each car that was there that day for those damned keys. Nothing. I waited a few days and called all the car rental companies' lost and found in the area. Nothing.

After a couple of weeks I gave up. Maybe a week after that, I thought that maybe I should call the rental car companies one more time. I was gathering all the phone numbers I could so I could call Hertz, Alamo, and all the other lesser known companies, when the valet phone rang.

Goddamned valet phone. Almost every time the bastard rings it has trouble on the other end. But not that time. That time, there was a lady on the other end telling me that she had just found a set of keys in her car that she had never seen before. She said that she had stayed at the hotel and figured that maybe the keys fell out of one of the valets' pockets. She was worried that maybe another guest had reported a set of missing keys and wanted to get them back to who ever owned them.

I shit you not, I got that call when I was looking up all those numbers for the car rental companies!

I couldn't believe it myself. So I started to describe my keys. A set of older GM keys. Yes. Two of them look almost the same, but one has a red cover and the other a white cover. Yes. A Clifford alarm remote. Yes! A little black nub that seemingly has no use. YES!

I told her that they were the keys to my car and that I was super happy that she decided to call the hotel. She said that she would mail them to the hotel. I asked if she would like me to send her a check to cover the shipping. She said, get this, "no". I thanked her again.

A few days later my keys arrived. A few days after that she got a thank-you card and a coffee table book full of  pictures of San Francisco from S.F.'s most bangin'est valet. We are friends on the Facebook now.

Did I mention that she lives in Canada? Yes, she was willing to ship my keys internationally without monetary compensation back to my monkey ass. And it was totally my fault that they ended up in her car (I forgot to zip up my jacket pockets)!

After all the things I've seen on the job - fights, arrests, drug use, drunken behavior, racism, classism, crackheads, tranny crackheads, prostitution, psycho cabbies, and guests from hell - an act of kindness is what I will remember about 2010. Losing the keys wouldn't have been a big deal, I had some spares. No biggie. But the truth of the matter is that there are still people in this world who do go about their lives trying to do the right thing whenever they can. I deal with these people (the good people) too every day. They are the ones who keep me and the other valets from going postal everyday.

So this year, I'm thankful for lots of things. Having the good fortune to cross paths with people like Miss Lorie M. is one of them. Thank you for reminding this curmudgeony bastard that decent people still exist. Happy Thanksgiving.