Yesterday, my source revealed how his hotel prepares for a very special guest. Her list of personalized requirements way exceeded my own. (A remote control TV, a data port, and some towels.) Click here to review them.
The saga continues:
“Ms. Star’s secretary arrived around 11:30 a.m., and she quickly went to work rearranging the furniture in the suite. Ms. Star has claustrophobia, so the housekeeping staff had to move the desk near an expanse of windows (first, removing the dining room table and chairs and raising the chandelier a couple of notches). Then, two credenzas were added to this setup to form a U-shaped command post. We were told that the credenzas would be used to spread out files.
“The secretary explained that our staff should not greet her in any fashion (no ‘Good Mornings,’ no smiles, etc.). When screening calls, the operators are to be ‘New York abrupt’ (the secretary looked around and said ‘I hope none of you are from New York’): ‘Joe Blow calling.’ This is a little tricky to execute. But we’re going to give it a college try. (Imagine fielding thousands of calls each day and switching back and forth from being ‘abrupt’ to one person and ‘pleasant’ to everyone else. A screw-up is inevitable.)
“Ms. Star arrived around 9:30 p.m. Her car pulls up and our congenial doorman, who welcomes everyone with a million-dollar smile (and who, incidentally, is the only person aside from the General Manager who can afford to wear one of that magnitude), proceeds to open the car door for Ms. Star. As he begins to say ‘Welcome to the…,’ she snaps ‘shut the door!‘ The doorman quickly obliges and steps back, noticeably shaken, having never been addressed in that fashion.
“Several minutes later, the star emerges. Her face is now lit with a beautiful smile. She greets the doorman, who, baffled by the transformation, cautiously opens the hotel door for her. Inside, she smiles and waves at the startled front desk assistant manager. (He — like everyone else — has been told by her secretary that she will not acknowledge the staff AT ALL.) She smiles and waves at the bellmen. She smiles and waves at the concierge. Exit stage left.
“Later that evening … Ring. Ring. (We answer the phone within three rings; it’s a hotel standard.) ‘Engineering? I’m cold. But I don’t want you to do anything about it tonight.’ Click. Unbeknownst to Ms. Star, her personal staff has spent the day in the suite with all of the terrace doors open wide. (It was cold and breezy here yesterday.) Her staff, who supposedly knows her likes and dislikes, does not adjust the thermostat in the room and shifts the blame to the hotel.
“In the morning, I call her secretary who is carrying one of the five cell phones Ms. Star has rented for the visit. Me: ‘Good morning. We understand that Ms. Star was cold last night.’ She: ‘Yes, she’s always colder than the rest of us; and, besides that, she’s not feeling well.’ Me: ‘I see. When would you like an engineer to check the thermostat?’ She: ‘I’m on my way to the hotel right now. I’ll call you when I find out.’ Me: ‘Thank you very much.’ (She never calls. Presumably, she discovers that the thermostat is not an objet d’art; it controls the temperature in the suite.)
“Ring. Ring. The concierge lifts the receiver: ‘Ms. Star wants another VCR in her suite,’ says the secretary. ‘Right away,’ says the concierge. Two minutes later. Ring. Ring. The front desk clerk lifts the receiver: ‘Where is that VCR?’ screams the assistant road manager (who has also been assigned to place the same order). The front desk clerk calls to check on the status of the VCR. ‘The VCR is on its way.’ In ten minutes the VCR is in the suite, installed.
“Early afternoon… Ring. Ring. Operator: ‘Ms. Star, Mary Jones left a mess…’ Ms. Star: ‘I don’t know any Mary Jones.’ Click. Operator: ‘But…’
“Late afternoon… Ring. Ring. Ms. Star: ‘I want to talk to the front desk manager!’ Front Desk Manager: ‘This is Bill, how may I help you?’ Ms. Star: ‘My son tried to reach me and I never got the message. Make sure it doesn’t happen again. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? I DON’T WANT THIS TO HAPPEN AGAIN!’ Click.
“Front Desk Manager: ‘Operator, Ms. Star. said that she missed a call from her son. What happened?’ Operator: ‘Mary Jones called and left a message for her from her son. But before I could give her the message, Ms. Star hung up on me.’
“I call the secretary and explain the situation. Secretary: ‘Oh, her son is always pulling stuff like that.’ Me: ‘I see.’ She: ‘But, don’t let it bother you.’ Me: ‘We just want you to know that we are doing everything possible to follow your instructions.’ She: ‘I know. We deal with this every day. As her employees, we just shout back at her when she does this. Of course, I understand that you’re not in a position to do that.’ Me: ‘I’m afraid not.’ She: ‘If it makes you feel any better, she’s been yelling at all of us today. It started early this morning. Opening-night nerves, you understand.’ Me: ‘Of course.’
“Exit stage right. The star leaves for the theater in a mad rush, avoiding all eye contact. No smiles. No waves. No wire coat hangers.
“Some call it abuse; but in the hotel business, you might say we’re star struck. It gives the phrase a whole new meaning.”
Tomorrow: The Saga Continues
Quote of the Day
I do count my blessings, but then I end up counting those of others who have more and better blessings, and that pisses me off.~Bob Mankoff New Yorker cartoon caption
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