Tipped Off

I would have never thought that work as a hotel valet could be so exciting. I once heard wild stories about the night shift at a metropolitan hotel. “The cab ring is run by an Somalian named Ali,” one valet said. “His index finger was shot off in the Somali Civil War.”

The valets and the cab drivers have an arrangement. Whenever a hotel guest checks out and needs a ride, the valet calls Ali. Ali sends “one of his Somalian taxi drivers” to pick up the guest. In exchange for the referral, the driver slips the valet 10$. “It’s the most illegal thing ever,” the valet said. “We get death threats from the unions.”

I started wondering: What’s really going on in this transaction? Continue reading

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Romanian Love

“What kind of music do you like?” I could imagine someone asking me.

“Classical, particularly baroque – including the famous oratorios,” I might respond. “Lately I’ve also gotten into the solo repertoire – Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto 3 and the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, for example.

“I also like jazz,” I envision myself adding, with a vague shrug, gradually becoming irritated at the blank face staring in front of me.

“No. Not the music you intellectually enjoy, or that which evokes colors and geometric images, or that which connects you culturally, or that which makes you feel curious and calm. I’m talking pure, unadulterated, dopamine release.”

This person knows how to hit where it hurts.

“Romanian popular music,” I finally utter, in a voice barely above a whisper, turning away in embarrassment. Continue reading