Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm Popular "On The Street," Apparently

I don't often write about my job, because of privacy concerns. However, I want to share a funny tidbit, that happened at work tonight. A customer came in, and said "I've seen you here for like ten years!" I replied that this month is indeed my 10th anniversary at this job. He continued, "but you don't know, man, how many people know you! I mean, people out on the street be talkin' about the white dude with blond hair and the glasses at the motel desk-for years!" Now, I'm thinking "how many of them want to kill me, for calling the cops on them." I try to say this, but he's going on: "I have to get you a Christmas present, man. What do you drink?" I'm still programming his room key, as I hear myself saying "vodka." Now, if I was honest, I would have said beer, but that doesn't make a good Christmas present. If I wasn't in "work mode," I might have thought of a more fancy liquor that I like, but vodka is something I drink, maybe once or twice a year.

I have to say, I vaguely recognized this guy, but I've obviously been fair to him, over the years. There are customers that I remember well, but I check in 20 to 50 people on any given night. It is always strange to be known, or remembered by people that you don't know, or remember well. This is not new to me, because I was a nightclub owner, in the past. The part that is interesting to me is that now, as a desk clerk, I still have the respect of my customers, even though I don't "own the store," so to speak. It's a funny thing, when people praise you for treating them the only way you know how.

As I said, I've had run-ins with customers in the past. I've been called every name in the book, but some of these episodes ended with a better understanding, and relationship, between myself and the customer. Sometimes, they get banned from the motel, for a time. More often, it is customers like the one I mention here, who never gave me a problem, and as such, don't stick out in my memory, that remind me that I'm successful at my job. It's also why I'm the company's MVP, which I know because I've seen the other desk clerks at work. I am appreciated by my bosses.

Here's the secret: Be professional (use "sir," "ma'am," or "miss," when addressing customers), and treat everyone the same, under similar circumstances. I have a very multicultural background, and should not be surprised with my popularity on the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, within the small segment of the population that are my customers. Still, it's always flattering to hear that any group of people finds me worth talking about, as long as they're not plotting to kill me (JUST KIDDING!)

This is just a teaser. Someday, I will write more specifically about these years, because the things I've seen and learned at this job have been very valuable to me, on an intangible scale. I look forward to sharing them. Maybe, when I drink the Christmas present, I'll tell you about my encounters with Mark and Lisa Gastineau, of "Gastineau Girls" fame. Probably not, if I want to keep my job.

Until they "ship me back off to Ireland" (to quote another customer), that's all for now!