Happy New Year!

The new year brings a lot of opportunity for reflection and change.  It also encourages us to reassess the things in our life that are either not working, or need a little fix.

All of these things were running through my head while I was working New Years Eve.  The ball had just dropped, people were kissing and drinking champagne, I was looking deep into the depths of my own soul, but I was jolted out of my introspection when I heard my coworker exclaim “Oh hell no!”

I turned to look while he rushed for the front door and saw a little penis, and it was peeing.

A drunk hipster had walked up and started pissing on the front door of the restaurant.  My coworker threw the door open smashing the drunk into the wall mid stream.  The guy hunched his shoulders in a defensive position, there was no way he would be stopping mid stream.

My coworker positioned himself behind the urinator, grabbed him by the collar and arm, and flung him away from the doors.  The drunk spun like a top, his piss arching and twisting with his body.  It got all over himself, the sidewalk, the red carpet leading into the restaurant, but miraculously not on my coworker.

A frozen line of urine, a piss trail if you will, showed how far the drunk got before he finished.  It was maybe 15 feet.

When my coworker came in, I could only laugh.  2013 had begun on a high note making me wonder where it will all go from here.

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I Know Why the Wheeled Woman Whines

Maya Angelou is pretty amazing speaker.  I’ve seen her before, several years ago.  My wife gave me I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I was on my way to England.  It was a good read.

Maya Angelou was next door the other night speaking.

She’s getting old, and needs help getting in and out of her tour bus.  She uses a wheelchair now to get around.  I saw her get off the bus and go into the stage door of the theater.

Her engagement was brief, maybe an hour tops, and then she was back in the tour bus in front of our valet zone.

A car pulled up behind the tour bus, and an old woman in a wheelchair got out from the driver’s seat.  Then she helped an even older woman (at least 80) get out of the passenger seat and into her own wheelchair (that makes two wheelchairs, three if you include Maya Angelou).  The older woman just sat on the curb looking lost and confused, while the younger one wheeled herself up to the door of the tour bus, leaned out so far I thought she was going to fall, and pried open the door of the bus.

This is when she began screaming into the open door.

“Ms. Angelou, I need to speak to Ms. Angelou!  Let me in the bus! Let me in.  I need to speak to her!”

I’d never seen a groupie like this before.  Security stood frozen and baffled by the incident.  It took a long time for one of the guards to run over and wrench the door handle out of the woman’s hand.

She started hitting him, and tried to wedge herself into the entrance of the bus while he tried to get the door shut.

“Let go of me!  Get your hands of me.  I need to speak to Ms. Angelou!  Please!  Ms. Angelou, let me in.  I need to speak to you!”

This all happened while I was watching, and continued as I ran by the bus to get to the parking ramp.  When I pulled the car out, the guard had been able to shut the door and the bus drove off pretty soon after.

The old woman was sitting back in the car looking just as confused, but the younger one was wheeling around whining out loud about how she needed to see Ms. Angelou.  It was important!

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The Customer Is Always Stupid

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With the prominence of keyless cars that require only a “key fob” to be carried inside the car and a start button to be pressed to get the ignition going, a whole new set of problems have arisen at work.  Here are three of the most common scenarios.

First:

The customer walks off with the fob in their pocket.  The car will still run, but once it’s turned off it can’t be locked or restarted.  Most cars beep loudly when the key is not detected, some don’t make any noise, instead just a small key symbol may flash silently on the dashboard.  If we notice it fast enough, we may catch the customer inside.  When we do, a lot of the interactions go like this:

Me:  “Excuse me Mr. or Ms. so and so, can I get your car key from you?”

Customer: “It doesn’t have a key, it’s keyless.”

Me: “Can I get your key fob from you then?”

Customer: “It’s running, you don’t need it.”

Me: “I know it’s running, but once I turn it off I won’t be able to lock it and I won’t be able to start it up again.”

At this point they usually dig around in their pockets, find the key fob and hand it to me.

Second Scenario:

If we don’t catch them in time to get the key fob on the way in, we park the car, and mark the ticket so that we can grab it from them before we run to the parking lot.  A lot of those interactions go like this:

Customer hands us the ticket.

Me: “I just need to get your key fob from you so I can start the car.”

Customer: “I don’t have the key, I gave it to you.”

Me: “We didn’t get a key from you.  The car wouldn’t start once we turned it off, so it’s not in the car either.”

Customer: (getting testy) “Look I gave you the key, you guys probably lost it.”

Me: (trying to be patient) “Can you check your pockets for me just to make sure you don’t have them before I go look in your car again?”

The customer is usually annoyed, convinced we lost their keys and that we’re the stupid ones. So with reluctance they will run their hands over their pockets.  Wouldn’t you know it, nine times out of ten they find their keys and hand them over in embarrassment.

Third Scenario:

This one usually starts well after the customer has left the restaurant and either gotten home or to their hotel.  This is always a phone call, and it happened to me last night.

They call the restaurant in a panic telling the hostess or the manager that they used valet and didn’t get their key fob from us when they left.  Usually a valet talks to the customer on the phone, and it’s always a delicate balance of trying to explain something in the same way you would to a child.

Customer:  “We used valet tonight, and we didn’t get our keys back from you.  It’s keyless, I think you forgot to give them to us.  We didn’t notice until we got to our hotel.”

Me:  “Did you check the cup holder?  We usually put the key fobs in the cup holder or hand them directly to you when we return the car.”

Customer: “I looked, we don’t have them.  You didn’t give them to us.”

Me: “We had to have the key in the car to start it and bring it up to you.  Have you tried to start it?  Does the car tell you that the key is not detected?”

Customer: “I guess I’ll check again and call you back, but I know you didn’t give them to us.”

Usually we never hear from them again, because they have the keys.

Last night they called back.

The first call came from a woman, the second one came from her husband.  They didn’t find the key, and they had to get somewhere by 6am the next morning.  We got their phone number, hotel, and room number.

They said they were at the Westin, and that it was a rental car, so I walked over to the hotel so I could look in their car and make sure.  I remembered bringing the car up and putting the key in the cup holder.

When I got to the hotel I called the man.  He was foreign.  I had a hard time understanding him, and he had a hard time understanding me.  I told him I was at the hotel, and I’d like to look in the car and try to find the key.  He was surprised I got there so fast, and I told him I walked over to the Westin on 6th St.  He told me he was in another Westin 20 miles away.

Great.

I asked him if he tried to start the car, and reminded him that you had to have your foot on the brake and the door shut for the car to start.

This is when he told me that they had just gotten their bags up to their room and he hadn’t checked the car yet, which was what I asked them to do when they had called 30 minutes earlier.  He still assured me that the car wouldn’t start, so he knew the keys weren’t there.

I got him to agree to look in the car and call me back.  I gave him my cell phone number.

30 minutes later he called back.  Guess where the key was?

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Let A Drunk Explain Why He’s Walking Barefoot Downtown

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A Telling Anecdote About My Former Employer

Here’s a conversation my coworker overhead as he walked past my old employers valet stand.

Supervisor:  How long have you been working here?

Valet: A month.

Supervisor:  So you’re still kind of learning the ropes?

Valet:  Yeah.

Supervisor:  Have you met Chet yet?

Valet:  Who?

Supervisor:  Chet from the office?

Valet:  No.

Supervisor:  Biggest fucking asshole you’ll ever meet.  Everyone fucking hates him.

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The Man With No Arms

I’d just finished a rousing game of Ms. Pac-Man and was walking back to my car, when I noticed an Indian man with no arms walking toward me down the sidewalk.  He was wearing a dress shirt with the sleeve tucked in and pinned on one side.  The other side had the sleeve cut off and where an arm should have come out, just a small backward hand hung out right from the shoulder.

He was swaying back and forth as he got closer, and I couldn’t tell if he had trouble balancing without the arms or if he was drunk.  I just assumed it was both.  I headed for the alley because my car was parked back there, but he cut me off and slipped in before I could get in there.

I tried to pass him on one side and he wobble-walked in front of me.  I tried the other side, same thing. I finally just put my head down and went for it, nearly bumping into him.  He saw me and startled, kind of hopping to one side to give me room to pass.

When I put enough distance between us I ventured a look back.  He made a bee-line for the wall of a building.  I thought, “Strange, I wonder what he’s doing?”

When I drove back down the alley I found out.  He was pissing on the wall.

I don’t know how the hell he managed to get his penis out.  I just sat with my headlights on him baffled at the logistics of it all.  He looked at me a little annoyed, and then the hand on his shoulder flipped back and forth either waving me on or away.  I couldn’t tell which.

So I backed up, turned around, and drove down the alley in the opposite direction.

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“What’s the Craziest Thing You’ve Ever Seen?”

This was the question put to me by a customer recently. He had a “watch this kids” smile on his face while his wife and two children looked on. This was a “see, dad’s hip. He can talk shop to this valet” moment for his kids amusement.

I’m not sure what he was expecting from me, but there was a look of excitement and expectation on his and his families faces. A funny anecdote about a drunk man, a pigeon shitting on someone, a slip and fall? Nope, I hit him with he ugly truth.

“I watched a woman get hit by a car and die right on that corner.” I pointed across the street with a blank face. ” So there’s that.”

The smile on his face melted away. His wife and children were suddenly uncomfortable. Wait this wasn’t a funny story. It was the gross reality of standing on a street corner downtown for years and seeing things I wish I hadn’t.

He hemmed and hawed, oh goshed a couple of times, but never regained his composure.

That night he did something he never does, he went five miles over the speed limit to get his children back to the safety of his suburban nest.  I’m sure he sighed a big relief when they were all safe inside.

You shouldn’t ask a question you don’t want an honest answer to.

I told my coworker about the conversation.  He laughed and said “At least you didn’t tell him about the two homeless guys having sex in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk.”

Maybe next time.

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