Heads in Beds
A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-called HospitalityLarge Print - 2014
In the tradition of "Kitchen Confidential" and "Waiter Rant," a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.
Jacob Tomsky never "intended" to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in "hospitality" for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He's checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In "Heads in Beds" he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we "think" we know.
"Heads in Beds" is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who's seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department's dirty little secrets--not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it's like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.
Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you'll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.
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What is surprising about Jacob Tomsky’s memoir of hotel hustles is not that it is (yet) another whistleblower exposing the darker underbelly of his chosen industry, but that his writing is so fluid. Yes, there is a vague tang of bitterness and a lot of cussing, particularly when recreating situations with co-workers and customers alike, but instead of lowering the tone of the book to the lowest common denominator it instead keeps the tone easy, conversational and hence, the pages keep turning, almost by their own volition. In fact, I tried to put this book down at the end of four different chapters and found that I could not; not only because I like to travel and Tomsky peppers his memoir with insider tips on how to get the best service at hotels - usually involving crossing a palm with money – but also for the sense of Schadenfreud that comes from being thankful at not being in the hotel industry. Reading this book was akin to watching a disaster unfold, a morbid fascination takes hold of you to see how Tomsky deals with the next incompetent co-worker/ irate customer/ faceless corporation / entitled celebrity / union boss or all of the above on any given day. But most people with jobs in any service industry can identify with such things, making Tomsky’s stories eminently relatable – well, except for maybe the celebrity interactions. With these Tomsky drops a few names, respects the privacy of others and avoids liability where necessary (silver fruit-bowls of pills – heck that could be anyone in Hollywood, couldn’t it?). What I found myself admiring – even among the minefield of f-bombs – was Tomsky’s resilience in such a chaotic atmosphere. His moral compass is set firmly in the middle, neither so high to be arrogant nor so low to be contemptible; not one to party with guests, but not above the occasional subversive gesture at heartless hotel owners. In short, Tomsky seems like a good guy, if a bit on the jaded side, and though he may never get hired in the hotel industry again, his new career as a writer seems off to a good start. Find Heads in Beds on the shelves at libraries in Stratford and Listowell, and at downloadlibrary.ca
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