Category Archives: Prose

TIP BATING

Whether you’re at a job to make a career, or maybe you’re just there to make money while you’re trying to get your real passion or dreams off the ground, or if you’re some lucky asshole who has a trust fund, but the stipulation of said fund is that you work at least 30 hours a week to collect on it, such as a coworker, you want to get paid as much as you can.

In the food and beverage industry, you rely on tips and gratuities (above and beyond the shitty $9.00 an hour minimum wage) through providing courteous fast and friendly service. That being said, you do what you can to manipulate an extra tip whenever you can. BUT if the guest check already includes a 20% gratuity and you’re already getting a tip, ‘Tip baiting’ is a big fucking no-no. Management makes that very clear. It’s grounds for termination in some cases. BUT when you have to split that 20% with 6 other people in a 24 hour period (tip pool) it really doesn’t work out to 20%. It says this on the bill, yet people still ask, ‘is the tip included?’ Most hotel guests know this, but they ask to avoid tipping more. Therefore I tip bait and manipulate for more money through the most subtle (or outright) of gestures. Here are some examples;

‘Is the tip included?’  ‘Well, it depends on how you look at it. My personal tip isn’t on there. It gets split between me and 10 other of the staff.
(I always add more coworkers depending on my mood or how my night is going tip-wise. This works occasionally, and I haven’t been reported to management.
If I sense that the guest is drunk or high I will automatically say “no, unfortunately, the tip isn’t included.’ or, ‘I wish.’ 9 out of 10 times they tip. And tip well.
If a guest is foreign and has no clue how to read the bill, they sometimes ask me in broken English if the tip is included. I always say ‘No’ in that case. (Not my fault they can’t read English)
One foreign guest asked me, ‘Please, what is the proper amount for a tip, what percent?’ I said “Oh 30 to 40 percent, in some cases 50 percent, but please, it’s at your discretion. That was good for another 25%.

Then you have the people who are ready to tip you, they have the cash-out. Then they read that the tip is included and they say, ‘Oh it’s already included.’ and put the money in their purse/pocket. There is truly a special place in hell for these assholes.
I’ve also had another guest stand between me and the guest who is about to tip and says, ‘No need for that, the tip is included.’ These are ‘Tip Blockers’ The worst. Real douchebags.

A bellhop friend of mine likes to squeeze in a hard luck story On occasion while Taking luggage to and from the room. He says it’s usually good for a little bump. Another co-worker faked a speech impediment and he got a big cash tip. He suggested that I try that, or even limp like I have a bad leg or some other physical disability. If things don’t pick up around the holidays, I may just take his advice.

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! Another excerpt from my book ‘#1 Son And Other Stories’ Available on Amazon.

My Father, Carl Marcus 1978.

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From the chapter, “Going For A Drive”

 

“What’s a shnorra Daddy?”

“Mikey, it’s men or women who freeload and sponge, like leeches at corporate or government jobs because they have no original thoughts, business sense, or ambitions. AND EVEN WORSE, they have no panache or hustle. You never want to get caught up in that garbage kid, it’s a dead-end life. A real fucking horror show.”

“OK, Dad.”

He turned up Frank Sinatra and ran his gold rings on the Caddie’s plastic steering wheel. He sang “My Way” as he gunned the red Eldorado up the 101 past Cambria. My father drove us all over California. We motored from Point Conception to the Mexican border, from San Fernando to San Francisco, Burbank to Barstow and all the nooks and crannies in between. He feeds us Ghirardelli chocolates, Pismo Beach clam chowder; date shakes from Hadley’s, root beer floats from A&W, fried shrimp from Howard Johnson’s, and pea soup from Andersen’s. On many occasions, he would wad up the check and stick it in his pocket, and we’d just walk out. “Let’s play a game kids. It’s called dine and dash.” If the waitress ever stopped us on the way out, he’d say, “must have slipped my mind,” then pay the bill. Once in our travels, my father took us to Fedco. He had acquired ‘paid’ stickers that a manager friend stole from the cash register. These stickers were used for big-ticket items that couldn’t be bagged. He’d slap a sticker on an item (toasters, irons, roller-skates, bicycles, even a color TV he put on a dolly) and we’d walk out.

When he was tired he’d pull into a rest stop and say, “OK you little cuties, shut the fuck up now. I’m sleeping, and I want silence.” He had no problem throwing an open fist into the back seat if we woke him. He called it “backhand therapy.” At home, he called it “wall-to-wall counseling.” My sister and I would sit back there wired on sugar and freak out about waking him. Then he’d wake up, and we were off. We also played road games. “Hey kids, you want to play house of horrors?”
 There was silence.

“How do you play that game Daddy?” My sister asked.

“We think of the worst possible scenario that could occur in a house filled with children.” More silence, for what seemed like an eternity. “For example, a banister that is sharpened like a shaving razor, and when you slide down it cuts you in two, haha!”

“Ok dad,” I said nervously.

“Or a special well lit room where they take a hole punch to your eyelids so your pupils are always exposed to the bright lights.”

“Eww,” said Lorraine.

“Or a chair with tacks and nails on it that you’re forced to sit in.”

“Dad, how about being stuck in a car that plays Frank Sinatra, over and over and over, forever?”

 

GET IT NOW!

#1 Son And Other Stories is available now on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/0999614185/

Also, check out my Interview with Marc Maron on his WTF podcast.

http://wtfpod.libsyn.com/episode-876-michael-marcus-dr-steve

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More Hotel Insanity

If you’re sick like just sniffly, well, the only reason why we care is that we don’t want to be around you. If you constantly verbalize your cold, flu, or allergies it’s really mundane and boring. Americans have some form of healthcare now! At this point in our current international climate, your little cold or allergies are whiny 1st world bullshit. No one truly gives a rats ass. And if they (the sick people enablers) cater and constantly kowtow to that shit, the little sickies are gonna’ leech on to that codependency and ride it into their golden years. I’ve seen it!

Anyway, so I deliver to a guy who orders quite frequently. This guy always has some story about his health. Mr. Harmon in 511. He has a different boy toy in the room every time I deliver an order. Most of them look like Santa Monica street hustlers. With their little backpacks and plastic bags of clothes and shit sitting on the couch.

Tonight’s delivery interaction;
I knock on the door. It opens, its dark, and smells like cheap stripper strawberry incense or oil.
‘How you doing Mr. Harmon?’
He’s about 6’2″ and really pale and bloated. He looks like Larry Bird’s estranged brother. And has an eerie fucking vibe to boot.
He throws his hands in the air theatrically.
‘Oh God, no Bueno! I think I caught a bad cold, Ramon is going to get me Theraflu.’ Ramon is grabbing his jacket and rushing out into the cold night.
‘I’m sure the concierge has it.’ I say.
‘No, Ramon loves to walk the streets. He’s been doing that for years.’ He turns on the light, I wish he hadn’t.

‘Listen I have this weird thing with my eyes, they keep going back-and-forth.’ He’s pointing at his eyes. ‘Have you ever had that?’ He’s moving his index finger back-and-forth between both eyes. I’m standing there watching this charade. Why oh why the fuck do I have to get a play-by-play of your present status Harmon? ‘We’ll have you?’ He asks again. ‘No Mr. Harmon. I’ve never had that.’
‘Hmm, yeah it’s a pretty unique thing. Well, the doctor gave me some promethazine, but I already took four Norco so I might not be good to mix them.’ Those were drugs that I used to use quite frequently, sick or not. ‘What would you do?’
Harmon asks. At this point, I’m in total ‘who gives a fuck’ mode. So I’m like, ‘Yeah go ahead and guzzle down the promethazine. You’ll get real drowsy and nod off, and then maybe your eyeballs will stop moving back-and-forth.’ He runs into the other room, ‘Hold on hold on,’ he says. Oh no, I just want to get the fuck out of here.

‘Mr. Harmon can you please sign the check?’
He comes running back with two small packages. ‘My housekeeper gave me these the other day. She gets them from some little bodega botanica place in East Los Angeles. They’re Mexican bath salts. Maybe these will help me.’
It’s probably not a good idea to drink the promethazine and then take the bath, right?’
‘Well unless never want to wake up.’ Which sounds like a great idea for either one of us at this point. ‘Ha ha ha. That’s funny.’ He signs and hands me back the bill. Well ‘pray for me by name!’ He says in a show tune like voice. I finally leave. I look in the checkbook, no tip. I feel like my spirit has been run over by a Stolen Cadillac Escalade.

Same night, two hours later. Simple order.
I’m delivering chamomile tea to a Mrs. Gordon, room 319. I’m taxed and tired.
I just want it to be over. Let this night be done. I knock.
‘Room service.’ No answer I lean in, I hear somebody scurrying around. I knock again. No answer, again I hear scurrying around. I knock louder. Still nothing.
‘ROOM SERVICE.’ Nothing. Jesus what the fuck. I kick the bottom of the door three times. ‘ROOM SERVICE!!’
‘Oh ok. Of course.’ I hear a droll voice say.

A frumpy depressed looking blonde 20 something opens the door. My intuition tells me another mundane, soul-sucking situation lies in my wake.
‘Just put the tray on the bed. Listen, I’m concerned. My sliding glass patio door won’t lock properly. Maybe you can take a look.’ I hand her the bill. She puts it down without signing it. That’s always a bad sign. I walk over to the door. It latches. No fuss no muss.
‘It’s fine ma’am.’ I walk towards the bill.

She looks over at the checkbook. ‘I finished a production job early, and I’m here for a couple of days. I’m so bored. What should I do? Don’t say the movies, Universal Studios or Disneyland. Those are stupid suggestions. I already got mad at the bellman for suggesting all that garbage.’ Her voice is high pitched like lee press on nails on a chalkboard, or metal patio furniture being pulled across concrete. I offer up museums, and exhibits, coffee houses, and quaint little hipster neighborhoods.

‘Boring. Boring.’ She says. ‘I need some action!’
‘Maybe go pick up an LA Weekly. You’ll find the back pages loaded with all kinds of activity.’
Her eyes lit up. ‘What are you talking about? Sex, S and M, sex clubs, prostitutes?’
That’s not what I’m talking about. God.’
I looked over at the bill, and made my way to the door. She signs it and is shaking her head.
‘I was talking about music venues, nightclubs, dance clubs. But hey, whatever.’ She growls at me and hands me the bill. I walk out. I’m done for the night. I’d rather fill catsup bottles or do some other form of side work then deal with these people. Just for tonight, I need to get my mojo back.

 

NIGHT SHIFTINESS

I’m not a morning person, or an afternoon person. Actually I’m not an any time of the day, or night person. I’m curmudgeonly and I’m jaded. I grew up in L.A. Whaddya want from me? It takes roughly 2 to 3 hours to muster a mild amount of patience and tolerance for me to even leave the house. I can get up and go if there’s a fire, a flood, or an earthquake, and even then it’s with some misgivings.

This is a qualifier for why I prefer to work swing or graveyard shifts. In most cases, these shifts attract a bizarre, creepy, and just plain odd individuals. I fit into all three of those categories. Let’s talk about the staff. The names have been changed, to protect me from these fucking lunatics.

Gerardo is the dedicated overnight man. He’s been doing room service for over 19 years. A pint-sized Filipino, with a mild speech impediment. He comes in at 11:30 every night and says the same thing, ‘Wush up, wush up, wush up?’ (What’s up). He never listens to or doesn’t care what the reply is. His next line is, ‘Ah, wuz bishee?’ (was it busy)? Again, he doesn’t care about the answer. Occasionally he will answer, ‘Oh is shat sho?’ (Oh, is that so) Gerardo’s sole purpose on an evening-to-evening basis is to get out of doing any sort of side work. I understand that it sucks, but it has to be done. But he is notorious for this, as even other employees have experienced.

There’s always side work, polishing silverware, restocking condiments and sodas, cutting butter, lemons, and limes pre-setting trays for deliveries, there is always things to fucking  do. But the truth is Gerardo has been here way too long and tries to delegate these jobs to me.

He says passive /aggressive things like, ‘Um can you focush on the silverwaresh?’ (Polish silverware, this seems to be something that he never wants to do.) ‘Run de florsh’ (go check the floors to see if there are any dirty trays, or morning breakfast orders hung on the door). I usually say the same thing every time he asks, ‘Your not my boss, I already did that’ or, ‘Gerardo you’re going to have to do some side work, there’s no way out of it.’

I mean, I come in at 5:30 and have been working my ass off. He just got there and he doesn’t want to do anything. I put him in check quickly, and if that doesn’t work, I just don’t do the side work and tell the supervisor he ain’t doing shit. They already know this though, and they do NOTHING.

One night I was coming off the elevator and heard him talking LONG shit about me to the chef, Julio. Something about ‘not doing my shares’. He doesn’t really wants shtoo be here, he wants shtoo write, we needs peoples thats are dedicated.’ I stood behind him and started laughing uncontrollably. Laughing like DeNiro playing Max Cady in Cape Fear. Julio walked away. Gerardo turned and looked at me with horror in his eyes. He walked away punching into the air. I didn’t care. I said to him, ‘So check this out Gerardo, you got something to say, say it to me, or talk to management Julio ain’t gonna help you.’ He immediately lied, ‘Oh no, we jush talking about 86’d itemsh, foods we ran out ofsh.’ I put him in check continually, but he forgets. Sometimes when it gets really busy, he walks in circles and tosses his hands in the air like a malfunctioning robot. He also freaks out if there are more than two orders. Some nights I’ve done 30 orders before even gets there, so I realize the silliness of this fear immediately. He also repeats himself constantly and loves top forty music. I listen to him drone on about “Taylor Shwifts, Maroons Fives and Iggyes Azaleas.’ By the time I leave at two AM, I seriously feel like I’ve been on a 72-hour hold in a psyche  ward. It’s a wonder I stay sober or sane.

Now let me tell you about Julio, the night Chef. A rotund 68-year-old Columbian man with a deep voice, an accent, a shady past and a limp. Julio comes in and depending on his mood will 86 (cancel) anything on the menu that he doesn’t feel like making. This he tells us after the guest has already called in the order. We have to call them back and say we are out of said item. Then he changes his mind and decides to make it. So you call the guest back again and say, ‘oh my mistake turns out we have it.’ This happens 2 or 3 nights a week and it’s so fucking maddening you want to throw hot grease on him or spray oven cleaner in his eyes! I swear to god it’s like working with your God Damn grandparents!

One night while I was waiting for Julio to prepare an order, he told me he was the private Chef for Pablo Escobar. He said that Pablo was an incredibly generous man, with a big heart, who really tried to help people. (I’m sure there are many folks that said the same thing about Hitler). He said cooking for the children’s birthday parties was always a fun time. Even though the kids were fat little-spoiled assholes. Once while preparing a dinner for the family, little Manuela Escobar was screaming and crying because the pony she got for Christmas had no wings, ‘she wanted a pony with wings,’ Julio pleaded. I laughed. Then Julio turned dark. ‘Months later at her birthday party, a man walked in with a pony that had wings.’ He went on to say that Pablo had the wings taken off an eagle and surgically implanted on the horse. To which Julio replied, ‘But you know, nature doesn’t play that game and three days later the pony died.’ I stood there aghast. he looked at me and grinned. “Oh, here, your chicken quesadilla for room 219 is ready.’

My days at the London Hotel were numbered. Essay #1

#2:00 AM London Hotel, West Hollywood.

I was walking the halls collecting trays, and picking up early morning orders left on doorknobs. As I made my way from floor to floor, I pondered all the decisions and wrong turns and I made in my life. Disastrous turns that led me up to my current position at 50 years old.

Sure, there were drug and alcohol incidents here and there, also some jail stints. There was also first-degree burglary, grand theft auto, possession of controlled substance as well as assault with a deadly weapons charges but all that was many years ago.

When I applied for this job, Jill Myers in human resources said The London was to do an intensive background check. Apparently, it wasn’t that intensive.

Truth be told, I lost all my hustle when I sobered up and I stopped doing hard drugs. Thank baby Christ I’m not permanently psychotic or paranoid. These thoughts were broken by a woman in a nightgown running and screaming coming down the hall straight towards me.

‘I left my key in my room, I left my key in my room! She looked distraught and flustered. At first, I thought she was dead on the reincarnation of Leona Helmsley, or the ghost of Leona Helmsley stuck in a Hell-like hotel purgatory.

Was it Leona? At 2 AM your mind really plays tricks with you. Think the Overlook Hotel but I’m way more passive Mr. Torrance.

‘Okay okay, ma’am. Ma’am, what is your name?’ This was the protocol. Simple enough.

‘What the hell does that have to do with it! Just let me into my room! That’s private information anyway!’ She seemed to be moving closer toward me. I started stepping backward.

‘Ma’am, I’m sorry I just can’t let anybody into any room without proper identification.’

Her eyes lit up, ‘Anybody, anybody? Into any room? I’m Sofia De Aragon and I’ve been staying at this hotel on and off since it was The Belage! How dare you!’

A door in front of us opened and a guest popped his head out. He took one look at Mrs. De Aragon and quickly went back to his room and shut the door.

‘That’s right! You mind your business!’ Sofia said as he bolted the door.

Suddenly I felt like a scolded eight-year-old. ‘Okay okay, I’m sorry. What room are you in? ‘Well that’s just it, I don’t know what room I’m in. They used to put the room numbers on the key, how the hell are you supposed to remember what goddamn room you’re in?’

‘Well, I guess we’ll have to call the front desk.’

She looked angry, ‘Well where is that god damn phone to even call them? We’re on the eighth floor! Do I have to run downstairs?’

I started moving towards the lobby of the eighth floor, I knew there was a phone there. I had to get away from this woman. I felt like she had stuck an invisible straw into my chest and was sucking the very last bit of life that was left in me. It had to stop. I picked up the phone. ‘Hi it’s Mike, In-room-dining attendant, I have a Mrs….’ I looked up at her, ‘Ma’am your name?’ She shook her head and whispered, ‘give me the phone, give me the phone.’

I attempted to walk away. Let them come up and let her into her room, or figure out what room she’s in. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

‘Hey where are you going? I’m in room 416 you need to let me in.’ We were both on the 8th floor. I don’t even know how she ended up on this floor. You need a room key to use the guest elevator to go from floor to floor. Which I don’t even have. And I was told under no circumstances were guest allowed to use the service elevator. I walked towards the phone called the front desk again. I hung up. Then I explained the situation to her and that she would have to wait here while somebody came up from the front desk.

She was flustered and upset ‘Why can’t you just let me in?’

‘Ma’am if you don’t have your room key we can’t get down the elevator to your floor, I don’t have access to that elevator with the key that I have.’ We both stood there looking at each other for a moment, but it felt like an eternity.

‘Well that’s absurd, what kind of bullshit operation are they running here?’ I walked away. She was saying things to me as I was walking away. They can fire me, they can discipline me, they can do whatever they want. Bottom line, I was not talking or looking at this woman for another fucking minute.

MY DAYS WERE NUMBERED AT TECHNICOLOR – CIRCA 1994

It’s physiologically staggering how much I detest most of the employees here.

One big dysfunctional family.

Alcoholics, gamblers, drug addicts sex addicts these are obvious. 

I’m sure there are also plenty of wife beaters, masters of molestation, pedophiles and judging by where some of these hicks live—bestiality. 

I hang in because the money is good. Bad move. Bad idea.

That rationale, that saying, “Well, at least the money is good…” America.

The phrase that pays. The Lie. The justification of lost passion, of the soul’s complacency, the collapse into a false sense of security and an even more false sense of self.

Speaking of delusion, working here does give me the delusional sense of being an intellectual… because the intelligentsia is so stiflingly low.

One of the bosses told me that he would “break both my fucking arms and legs” if I pressed a power button on a broken machine.

HE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE COSMO SPACELY FROM THE JETSONS.

Not the least bit intimidated, I glared at the diminutive little man and I laughed. I could crush his windpipe in one fell swoop. I already had it telegraphed in my head.

 The money is good. But how far does that ever take me?

When your soul and spirit is broken, waded up like a Milky Way wrapper, and thrown to a needy corporate dungeon of chemical death, it makes you wonder, what the fuck am I doing here? Or anywhere?

Everyone in the Positive Developing department has a glazed look and is stupefied from watching monitors of the same 35 mm film going backward on a high-speed developing machine at 500 frames a minute for 12-hour shifts. This was the process of film, before digital.

Most people here break the monotony by drinking, gambling, doing drugs into oblivious states of delusional ultra temporary contentment. 

Or… they eat and eat and eat…to fill the senseless void of an unaccomplished, and molested life. 

Me: I’m terrifyingly sober. Dry as Death Valley in July. 

I read, write, exercise and get laid if I’m lucky. Sometimes I obsess on all the above that I can’t do—gamble, drugs, drink. Wait, murder? 

Even though this freedom sucks it’s better than jail, (more morbidly senseless justification for staying stuck in this chemical hell with toxic people).

There really is no glamour in Hollywood.

But based on the that there is, well this would be the least glamorous of film industry jobs. 

No fucking doubt.

My worth in the eyes of management is contingent on just how many hours of overtime I’m willing to work, but I have a modicum of self-esteem, self-care, and self-worth so I frequently refuse the OT request. 

So in their eyes, I’m a worthless piece of liberal shit and I have even been told so.

And (again) it’s rammed into my consciousness that Hollywood is filled with wolves parading around in liberal wardrobe.

The job, this existence, It’s an amazing concept that a job could be somebody’s whole life, somebody’s identity. 

More Americana that’s as shallow as a bird bath. Like a Junkie math equation. Good paying job = good life

The job collapses.  They collapse.

These gears here are oiled so well that word of layoff, fiber optics, digital anything that would threaten the weak foundation of their existence sends them scurrying in a panic, like roaches running from a homemade aerosol & Bic lighter flamethrower.

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Confessions of a problem child

 

I burned down the backyard

And just stood there

Transfixed by the flames

I  pissed on my parent’s artwork while standing on their antique chair

I stole my best friends prized matchbox set

I crept into my mother’s and father’s room while they slept

I stole all they’re money and their car

Then drove to Mexico in a blackout

I told the 8th-grade teacher to shove that bullshit history book up her ass

I got a referral to the principal and was swatted in the ass with plexiglass for questioning patriotism and history and an imposed system of ignorance

I carried a loaded gun because they were coming

And then when they came I realized I forgot the gun

I was on a72-hour psyche hold in 4 point restraints and shot full of Haldol. Swore I’d never be there again, and I was there again and again

I was busted with possession of drugs and paraphernalia and sat in jail, and couldn’t wait to get out and not even have a clue I  was going to do it again. Over and over again

I’ve been angry, homeless walking the streets in Anytown, USA.

Totally convinced, truly believing, it was everybody else’s fault

I  walked the streets until my feet had blood blisters, but never left a square block radius

I broke into so many apartments in the complex I lived in that I could only leave the apartment at night out of sheer paranoia

I drank and drove so drunk that I had to cover an eye to stop seeing double, again, and again and again

I’ve heard at least 2 dozen people say they’ll never drink or use again

Then just hours, days, weeks, months, or years later, they overdose or drink themselves to death

I looked loved ones in the eyes and promised something, and just knew deep down I was going to break their fucking heart