ONE once his colleague was asked if he could get bull semen for a guest. The guy had a breeding program where he wanted a certain kind of cattle. Ask the janitor if he could help him find some samples – it is obviously one of the most expensive liquids in the world. I think they managed to find it too.
We receive more serious requests, of course. Just last week I had a friend who was asked if he could help someone who left Ukraine. Some calls were made and they managed to find the family a house in Poland for a month. There is a lot of variety in this job and when you feel that you are really helping it can be a little specific.
Generally a good day for us is tiring, but everything goes smoothly for the guests, without problems with the travel arrangements to and from the hotel. If you book a table at a very popular restaurant for a guest and are late, it can make things worse. Rehabilitation of these situations is part of the ability to work.
Nightmare Guests: The Rolling Stones Fight with Pie Cream at the Kensington Gore Hotel in 1968
The worst case scenario for those of us working in hotels was Covid, but another example would be the Monster from the East – this icy wave of ice that hit the UK in February 2018. It was a nightmare. Really tough. People could not get anywhere, they could not get or leave, there was no public transport and all the car rental companies sold out. We had to constantly arrange the washing machine. The shops were closed. There was a lot of tension in the hotel.
In such a situation you can not ignore it, but you have to have a certain kind of warmth: to be honest, to show a little empathy. It did not make sense to try to beautify it, but if people see that you are doing what you can, they generally respect you.
Not everyone is like that. I do not want to be rude, but a lot of younger people with online businesses — entrepreneurs and influencers — can be a problem. Their expectations can be very unrealistic and some of their requirements and schedules put a lot of pressure on us.
Influencers can make porters’ lives miserable
They are not exactly disrespectful, but they are heading this way. We watch them when they check in. If they are on their phone, holding the queue, making things worse for other guests, then we will intervene. If you see such behavior, immediately think, we could be for an interesting two days.
I have sent people to the back of the queue for something like this and they have stood there muddy. That said, I have had a difficult start with many others and they have been polite since they left. We never hold a grudge.
Overall, visitor behavior is deteriorating. People just do not respect property. I’m not talking about those who go out and inflate a little steam. It is more the return to the hotel and the party in a way that is annoying to other guests and damages the rooms. There have been bigger scandals in the past – the days of throwing TVs out the window – but they seemed less frequent.
An international football player came to me at the hotel, completely drunk, while the book was being presented to a crowd of people. We saw him coming and we had to grab him and drag him to the entrance of the service before anyone could see him. The next morning he was quite grateful.
Another time we had a famous singer stumble drunk by his coach and because the security guy did not catch them, they turned around and started hitting him. I was packing my bags at the time and thinking, “What the hell is going on there?”
My advice to any would-be janitor: be clean, presentable, and talkative. But discretion is vital. For example, make sure you never do a career interview.
* As he told Jamie Lafferty
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