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Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Plug for a Book

Try to find The Hotel, A Week in the Life of the Plaza by Sonny Kleinfeld. Published in 1989, it’s long out of print, but you’ll love it. Kleinfeld is a journalist who spent a week in the famous New York hotel and wrote about twenty chapters describing every position from the doorman, desk clerk and laundry worker to the kitchen staff, concierge, security, bellhops, housekeeping, and management.

I was impressed at the difficulty of keeping such an institution running smoothly and satisfying demanding guests (not you or me but some). If you want to know the hardest job in a hotel, there’s no contest. It’s the housekeeper’s.  

The book includes a chapter on the hotel doctor that kept me scratching my head. Mostly, he complains.

It infuriates him that guests call at 1 a.m. with a bad cold. Any call from an exclusive Los Angeles hotel like the Four Seasons would thrill me. Why was he upset? Did he volunteer for the job? Is he working for free? I have no problem seeing guests who aren’t very sick no matter what the hour.

I take for granted that doctors go into medicine because they want to help people, and unlike other helping professions (clergymen, firemen, social workers) we’re paid very well. Almost no one calls me during wee hours unless they’re feeling bad. That may represent poor judgment, but who thinks clearly when they’re miserable?   

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