Title: Heads In Beds
Author: Jacob Tomsky
Format: Electronic (Kindle)
First came Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain’s memoir of a life in food service. Then came blogs and every liberal arts major with a substance abuse problem and a job in the service industry decided they would try their hand at aping Bourdain’s success. We had ranting waiters, grousing cable guys and grumpy customer service techs in droves. It finally got to the place where MFA students trying for writing success MADE UP blogs by FICTIONAL service industry professionals. Here in Nashville, TN, the Nashville Is Talking blogosphere was sideswiped by a guy whose thesis for his MFA program was to write a blog pretending to be a worker in a Nashville gas station. He’d write long posts about how his philosophy degree and encounters with various hot girls and rednecks broadened his horizons. Needless to say I have not a lot of love lost for these types of books, as after awhile they all become patronizing in a backhanded way. “See what lessons I’ve been taught by the people I looked down on. Well, I still look down on them but now I can look down on them AND inflate my own ego at their expense at the same time.”
Why, then, did I check this out of the library? Answer: The blurb in Entertainment Weekly promised that this was a rollicking good time that also gives travelers tips on how to save money on hotel stays. The combination of potential fun and frugality drew me in.
The memoir portions and anecdotes are interesting to a point, but I daresay that for any of us who have held a service industry job they’re nothing revelatory. I mean, honestly. Who doesn’t by now know that management can be unfair and inconsistent, that some of your coworkers might be a little nuts? To whom is it really news that customers can be jerks and insulting? Bourdain’s memoir–that granddaddy of professional accounts–succeeds because it creates a mythos around the restaurant industry and leaves you enthralled by cooks who are modern pirates, giants among the earth. This book just has a lot of ex-cons parking cars and using variations of the F bomb. It’s still interesting to a minor degree in that it takes you into the author’s world, and I would recommend it as a three-star commute read but for one thing.
The money-saving tips.
Let me spoil the “tips” for you right now. There are only really two, but they get worded differently throughout the book to make it seem as if there are more. The two “save money on hotel stays” tips are as follows:
1. Throw money at literally everyone you see. $20 to the desk clerk gets your room upgraded. $20 to the valet gets your CD collection not stolen out of your car. $20 to the porter handling your luggage may get a good word put in for you with the desk clerk and the valet. Frankly, if I had this many $20 bills to be handing out I wouldn’t be drawn to reading some memoir for money-saving tips.
2. Lie. This right here is where he lost me. I can’t stand cheating in any form. This big tip for saving on the mini-bar charges, on the PPV charges, on any extra charges for things taken from your room is just to lie about it. Essentially the hotels know that with so many staffers having access to a room there is no way to prove that the minibar wasn’t raided by housekeeping or the porn wasn’t watched by valets when you were out on the town. So if you eat the $30 jar of jelly beans or watch the plastic sex all you have to do is deny it and the desk clerk–whom you’ve of course slipped $20–will take the charges off your bill.
The author is claiming to be in a labour dispute with his current employer, an anonymous NYC hotelier. This book is designed to be both a self-aggrandizing memoir and a stab back at The Man. It’s not really worth reading. It’s especially not worth paying for.
I’m giving it Two Bookworms because up until the business about lying to save money it was passably entertaining. And I suppose if you’re not as bothered by that “tip” as I am, you might have a fun time with the book.