Monday, August 31, 2015

Heads in Beds

The subtitle to Jacob Tomsky’s memoir, Heads in Beds, tells the book’s potential readers pretty much what to expect from it.  That subtitle reads: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, placing the book firmly in that category of insider looks at various service industries – anything, say, from restaurants to cab drivers to hotels, and the like.  In almost every case, the author of these books comes across as some combination of angry, fed up, sarcastic, demeaning toward customers, and just plain nasty.  Tomsky does not come across as angry about his plight in life as some of the other writers of these memoirs, but he does conform to the general pattern via his sarcasm and condescending attitude toward those seeking shelter for a night or two in whatever establishment happens to employ him at the time.

Jacob Tomsky is one of those unfortunate college graduates who completed his education in a field that does not exactly offer great odds of employment upon graduation: Philosophy (if I remember correctly).  All most by accident, Tomsky - a military brat with no real roots - began his hospitality career in New Orleans as a hotel parking valet, one of those guys largely dependent upon tips for the bulk of his spending money.  And he did well, learning all the little tricks that bring larger tips along the way, a lesson that will serve him well no matter what position he holds in the industry. 

Author Jacob Tomsky
He did so well, in fact, that within months he was plucked from the car-parker ranks and placed in charge of over 100 people responsible for cleaning and preparing rooms for the next day’s guests.  And, despite his obvious lack of enthusiasm about his new position, he did well enough with it to be moved again, this time to the front desk where he was able to put his tip-harvesting skills to good use.  (I hope I have not chronologically flipped these two positions, but I don’t have a copy of the book with which to check my memory.)

Sadly, however, Tomsky seems to feel that he has become trapped forever (primarily because that is all he has ever done) in a lifetime spent greeting hotel guests, lying to them, and ultimately milking them for every extra dime he can squeeze out of them.  He does not want to be there, but it is all he knows.  Thus, the sarcasm of his tone and the language he uses to describe his experiences with guests, co-workers, prostitutes, and hotel management.  That is not to say that Tomsky does not tell some interesting anecdotes in Heads in Beds, because he does.  Some of them are funny, some are sad, and more than a few are disgusting, so he does deliver everything promised by the book’s subtitle. 


Some readers, especially those who believe hotels are ripping them off, will find one section of the book to be particularly interesting.  This is a list of tips and reasons that hotels will almost certainly always remove any disputed charges to the room minibar or movie services.   In the end, however, Heads in Beds is pretty much just another memoir exposé of a type that has just about been done to death now.

Post # 2,549

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