The Hook is a real bellman at a busy hotel in Niagara Falls. He will take us behind the scenes regularly with tales of some of the millions of visitors to the city. The stories are true. He couldn’t possibly make this stuff up.
THE HOOK/Special to Bullet News
Yes, the spectacle has ended – although dismantling the course and cleaning up is another matter entirely - but the wisdom gained endures.
Here are some nuggets of wisdom I’ve managed to gather from the entire Red Bull Crashed Ice extravaganza….
#10: IF SOMEONE IS ALREADY AS PERKY AS A SQUIRREL ON CRACK, THEN GIVING THEM FREE RED BULL IS A REALLY BAD IDEA. Seriously, I saw some young ladies literally bounce off walls without feeling a thing. One poor girl fractured her nose and it still hasn’t felt it….
#9: WITH ENOUGH HYPE, YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING! I ran into some acquaintances of older persuasion at Tim Hortons (where else?) who spend most days complaining about everything from big business to open-toed shoes and even they were excited about Red Bull Crashed Ice. “Hey have you heard about this thing they’re having by the Falls? They’re going to race bulls on an ice track!” Hey, I said they were excited. I didn’t say they knew what the hell they were excited about..
#8:DRINKING FIVE CANS OF RED BULL WILL NOT MAKE YOU MORE ATTRACTIVE TO THE OPPOSITE SEX. There were A LOT of people who learned this the hard way. I saw one of our regulars deviate from his routine of ordering take-out – food and a hooker, but not from the same place – in order to try his hand at scooping up one of the thousands of eligible young ladies who were caught up in the racing frenzy. Did he succeed? Let’s just say he was going to need that hand…
#7: THERE IS LITTLE TRUTH IN ADVERTISING. Attempting to verify the validity of Red Bull’s slogan “gives you wings”, will just leave you walking with a limp for at least a week. And that’s all I have to say about that.
#6: YOUNG LADIES WHO AREN’T INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO BE CAST IN ADULT FILMS LOVE TO HANG OUT AT EXTREME SPORTING EVENTS. In all my years as a bellman, I’ve never seen so many beautiful bodies devoid of coherent thoughts jammed together in one place. Something about ice, energy drinks and a large body of rushing water draws out the “pretty, but dumb as wood” crowd.
#5: MEN OF ALL AGES LOVE EXTREME SPORTING EVENTS. PERIOD. They could have called it “Red Bull Crashed Shuffleboard” and a few thousand guys would have turned out to drink and scream. Guys love any event with “extreme” in front of it.
#4: ADRENALIN JUNKIES ARE A VITAL PART OF A CITY’S ECONOMIC SURVIVAL. The hype machine keeps throwing a figure of 60,000 spectators around, but I’m not sure how accurate that is. Regardless, I guarantee more than one Niagara politician is making plans to entice Red Bull back here – no matter what it takes. The same goes for business owners of all shapes an sizes; Red Bull may not actually give you wings, but it can put heads in beds, bills in your till and, well, you get the idea.
#3: SERVING EXTREME SPORTS ORGANIZERS REQUIRES FINESSE – AND A LOT OF REST. Any bellman worth his salt knows you have to be a chameleon; you need to be quiet when your guests aren’t in the mood for chit-chat and when your guests are young adrenalin junkies, you need to adjust your behavior accordingly. I’ve never said “YEAH, I HEAR YOU, BRO!” so often in a single week. I felt like I was an extra in Top Gun.
#2: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO TAKE ONE – OR 20 – FOR THE TEAM. Crashed Ice was a marketing victory for Red Bull.Crashed Ice was a financial victory for the city of Niagara Falls. Crashed Ice was a victory for my place of business. Crashed Ice was not a financial win for myself or any of my colleagues. The hotel is full on any given weekend throughout the year, but this past weekend our guests were adrenalin junkies and corporate drones, all of whom were pleasant and for the most part, fun to be around.
However, they’re young and cheap. Having a young, immature workforce works for Red Bull – big time – but it doesn’t help pay off my mortgage any faster. But that’s the way it works; I lost in the short-term but a victory for the hotel helps ensure my survival in the long-term. And that ain’t bad.
And finally, I learned something important about myself.
#1: FOR THE HOOK, HAPPINESS DOESN’T INVOLVE ICE, ROCK MUSIC OR THE RUSH OF THE CROWD. When my shift ended at 8 p.m Saturday night I found myself moving against the rushing horde making their way across Stanley Avenue, down Murray Street (Murray Hill to us locals) and into Queen Victoria Park to watch the Crashed Ice spectacle unfold. I cranked my iPod, put my head down and enjoyed the walk home.
When I arrived and shook off the December chill, I found myself peering down at a shih tzu, an offering of a toy in its mouth – any dog can fetch your slippers – and a tail wagging at superhuman (super-canine, I mean) speed behind it. One quick pat later, I peered into the living room and saw my young daughter and my father-in-law watching television. My dinner, and the lovely chef who prepared it, were waiting in the kitchen.
I was home. And I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.
The Hook’s first book (Yes, rhyming is awesome!) is available for the Kindle or in print at amazon.com or amazon.ca. You’ll also find it at Pulp Comics, 4413 Queen St., Niagara Falls. Its a great read, even if you’re sober.