Heads in Beds: A Really Good Story about the Worst Job EverSeptember 11, 2013
Reading Heads in Beds is like getting a drink with your most smart, funny, cynical co-worker. You know, the one who takes the bland, soul-sucking parts of your day and turns them into hilarious anecdotes that make your struggles sound epic and interesting? The book is technically about the hotel business (and it does share some insider tips about how to get an upgrade or late checkout, how to get mini-bar charges canceled or watch a free movie). But it’s really more than that. It’s for anyone who works with the public, anyone who feels stuck at a job, anyone who’s been so bored behind a desk that you’ve started making crafts out of office supplies.
I’ve never worked at a hotel, but I have been a barista at … let’s just say it’s America’s biggest coffee purveyor … and I felt like author Jacob Tomsky was telling my story, too. Where he had Key Card Bowling, we had Short Cup Derby. He steals from the minibar, and we made chocolate mousse in the blender and invented recipes for the Donut Frappuccino (with stolen donuts, naturally). He punished rude guests by Key Bombing them, and we punished rude customers by decaffing them, “running out” of their favorite pastries the moment before they came in, or shaking up their San Pellegrinos so they’d explode in the car.*
The tragedy of Tomsky’s experience (and of mine) is that he could have loved his work. He has an aptitude for it, and he finds a certain thrill in learning quick-and-dirty tricks to make the job better. The trouble comes when management is more interested in control than anything else (including profits). I’m also seen corporate fire some of the best customer service people, the best team members and even the highest earners, simply because they didn’t fit a mold.
Despite his problems with the industry and with management, Tomsky manages to be snarky without being mean. The book is really fun, really funny, and will either open your eyes to the people who work for you or, if you work with the public, give a smart, cathartic voice to those things you’ve thought so many times. Reading Heads in Beds is like having someone give voice to your interior monologue.
Do you have an affinity for New Orleans, New York, or Brian Wilson? Read this book. Are you laboring in a thankless job that you’re overqualified for? Read this book. Are you a customer who truly believes in the phrase “the customer is always right” and likes to ask to see the manager? Flip to the back of this book, check out the appendixes (including Things a Guest Should Never Say and Things a Guest Should Never Do), take their advice and, for goodness sake, start being nicer to people.
* I actually didn’t do any of these things. But I didn’t stop them from being done, either.