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Hospitality, IT Style.

by Dear Jon
September 30, 2003

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Sort 236_Dear Jon-Hospitality, IT Style ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

How do I know if I'm stuck in a rut and need to move on? I've held the same job for thirteen years. It's just in the last maybe six years that I've started to wonder if I shouldn't do something else. I work in IT (information technology), but I wonder if I'm more suited to the hospitality industry, perhaps concierge at a large hotel.

I am thankful for what I have, knowing that so many are struggling to find employment. How do I know if I should move on or just stop being an ungrateful twit?

Deeply Rutted


Dear Ted,

You work in information technology, and you are considering a new career as a hotel concierge. I imagine you will experience a scene like this fairly often:

(Pickleton stands at the concierge post. He is in his 30’s, dressed in the uniform green blazer with the hotel logo on his breast, and the tie he got to match prominently pictures Captain Underpants ™. Formerly an IT, Pickleton is now engaging the world of hotel hospitality. The concierge post itself, normally an attractive vertical desk with space for brochures, phone books, and coupons available at one’s fingertips, is now lying about him, disassembled in several pieces. The city’s tourist information is strewn about haphazardly. Pickleton is on his knees, completely absorbed in examining the plane on the edge of one of the shelves, tracing it with his thumb. A woman in her forties comes along. Seeing that the concierge is busy, she hesitates. Still, she really wants to know the train schedules in the city and had been told by reception to inquire of the concierge. She coughs apologetically. Pickleton does not notice.)

Woman: Excuse me?
Pickleton: What? (Looking up, he sees a person looking at him. Assuming she needs to step around the mess, he replies:) Oh. No problem.
Woman: Are you able to tell me where I can find a train schedule?
Pickleton: (Surprised that she is still there and addressing him.) Sorry. Could you repeat the question?
Woman: I said, are you able to tell me where I can find a train schedule?
Pickleton: Yes.
(The woman waits silently as Pickleton begins to experiment with placing shelves together at oblique angles. She eventually heaves a sigh of impatience.)
Pickleton: (Looks squarely at her, now annoyed by this persistent interruption.) Is there something you wanted?
Woman: I asked you for a train schedule.
Pickleton: No, you didn’t. But here. (He begins to rummage through the piles.)
Woman: Yes I DID ask you.
Pickleton: No. You asked if I were ABLE to tell you where to find it, which I am.
Woman: (Speechless. Cannot believe her ears.)
Pickleton: (Casting about uncertainly.) Hmph. I didn’t expect that.
Woman: What?
Pickleton: Well, in the process of upgrading the Concierge Post, it appears that the train schedules have ceased to be made available.
Woman: You’re telling me you can’t give me a train schedule?
Pickleton: What I am saying is, when the upgrade is complete, you will be able to get a train schedule faster and more efficiently than ever.
Woman: And when will the upgrade be complete?
Pickleton: Well…(He looks around at the pieces.) I would say in about three days.
Woman: You’re telling me that you’re the concierge and you can’t give out a train schedule for three days?
Pickleton: In three days you will get your train schedule faster than ever.
Woman: Look, can you tell me how I can get downtown?
Pickleton: Yes.
(After a pregnant pause, Pickleton shrugs and turns again to the shelving.)
Woman: Mr. Concierge, would you please tell me how I can get downtown on a train?
Pickleton: Of course! All you had to do was ask. You can catch the Red Line Express, which will get you there in fifteen minutes.
Woman: Thank you. And how do I find the Red Line Express?
Pickleton: Well, the nearest station is thirty blocks east of here. It will take you an hour by bus. Half an hour by a cab, but that will cost fifteen bucks.
Woman: Oh. (Although discouraged, she is now hopeful because Pickleton is actually making some kind of sense concerning her need.) Is there another way to get downtown by train?
Pickleton: Sure. The Blue Line comes right under the hotel here. Just take those escalators. The Blue Line can get you downtown in ten minutes.
Woman: That’s great, but why didn’t you tell me that to begin with?
Pickleton: You weren’t specific. There are, like, six different ways to get downtown by train. You could also take a bus north to the Purple--
Woman: Thanks for the help. (She walks briskly toward the escalators).
Pickleton: Glad to be of service.
(The woman, perplexed, wonders if everyone else in this strange city is like this hotel concierge. Pickleton, certain he has done everything he could in the best possible way, happily returns to the problem of redesigning his post.)

So, Ted, if you can understand why Pickleton is happy with his performance, trust me, you should stay in IT. If you can understand why the woman got perplexed and, perhaps, even a little bit huffy, you might seriously consider a career change.

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