Heads In Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, & So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky(1 out of 5 stars)
Jacob Tomsky started out as a college graduate with a philosophy degree and little, if no, idea of where his career was headed. Where it headed was as a valet parker at a swanky hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. Through his efforts and career advancements, he ended up rising up in the hospitality industry for over a decade. This is the sort of book, upon reading reviews of it in periodicals, that you believe will be along the ranks of Anthony Bourdain, or my favorite new discovery, Steve Dublanica. When it wasn’t, well, disappointment followed. What also followed was an unbelievable inability to connect with the author on any level except to shake one’s head that he has a book deal when there are more talented writers out there. The feeling of admiration, we’ll say, was not mutual.
Tomsky shares with his audience stories of misbehavior among the ranks of hotel staff, and also a number of stories of those who radically misbehaved and expected it to be covered up, along with numerous stories of his own exploits and escapades. One has to give him credit for not pulling any punches, even with his own shady business on the clock. The hospitality industry may be horribly mis-monikered, if this collection is any indication. Tomsky also shares with his audience tips on how to score free gifts online, how a flash of the right amount of green currency will score you some extended perks during your stay, among other tips on how to receive the service you are paying for. On that angle, it’s nice to know for the travelers of the world that there are simple acts of courtesy that they can do that will bring about the service that they should have been getting for the price that they paid.
What went wrong? Tomsky isn’t an engaging narrator. If anything, he often comes across as narcissistic, annoying, and vitriolic. If there’s no sense of connection with the person telling the stories, it’s going to be difficult to want to continue on with reading their view on things. There’s a definite Arthur Fonzarelli vibe to Tomsky, minus the chill factor and the nice guy twinkle in the eye. Tomsky strikes as the sort of man who would spit in your crab bisque if you didn’t take to him warmly. It was difficult to do so throughout the book.
The style of writing was another issue. Perhaps if he had been able to tell the stories and share his background in the industry without a ridiculous amount of profanity, well, it may have gone over better. It’s hard for to judge the author for that when the reviewer is fond of many four-letter particles herself, but when it soils the story down to where it completely hijacks the narrative to a place where it cannot be redeemed, there is a problem in Denmark, and it isn’t the crab bisque.
It could have been the type of book that set the hospitality industry on its ear, but it only succeeds in creating more questions than answers and more negativity than a positive environment.