Beware: A club’s liability is limited to the coat check girls’ limited abilities.
On any given winter evening in Manhattan there is an exchange: I give you $4 and an opportunity not to fuck up, you give me ‘tude and someone else’s shit. There’s a reason we keep coat check girls in a dark closet.
The job is far from complex; it’s the same mundane task repeated each time a coat is checked, but still, the outcome is no surprise. It’s a 500 capacity venue and there is one high-school-equivalency-degree diva armed with ticket stubs and the attention span of an iPod Shuffle. This is why things get lost and create other problems, which radiate throughout the club. Understaffed inefficiencies spawn holdups that lead to a loss of bar revenue and a sadly sobering experience. The problem has gotten so bad that lines forming at the coat check are now longer than “lines” being sucked through twenties in the restrooms.
Similar to checked airline luggage, it takes only one loss to want to switch carriers and start carrying-on. My “grounding” experience was in early ’09 at now defunct, “Citrine.” It was there that some “Ticket-Master-Mind” exchanged my Canali Cashmere for Paraguay Polyester which was sold off of a Nigerian’s blanket on Canal Street. Regardless of brand, there is no excuse to lose a Banana Republic trench when the person responsible literally comes from the Republic of Banana.
The Hustle: who hasn’t caught on to the lone-Lincoln in your jar as your attempt to manipulate ticket-holding patrons by setting tipping trends. The going gratuity rate is $2 per jacket, returned, dry and undamaged, which is more than I can say about how you'll end up at evening's end. Are all of our Jacket Jockettes incapable? Short answer: no. However, coat-check Camilla wouldn’t know Loro Piana from Lands' End and couldn’t care less if you're wearing Couture or dressed like Michael Moore.
Coat check girls reportedly have the highest suicide rate of all nightlife industry occupations (surprisingly not by hanging), but it’s not a dead-end gig for all. Many coat checkers end up coming out of the closet faster than a Republican legislator. In fact, the legendary Mariah Carey started out working the coat checkroom (this is where her former Sony-Music-Mogul husband discovered her). But back to you Camilla: unless you can sing me the reason as to why you can’t find my scarf, either blow a “Mottola” or get off your Motorola.
Are they all walk-in-closet whores? No – because no matter how “hung” your jacket, coat check girls are satisfied with “just the tip.”
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The comments stated in this column are Justin Ross Lee's personal opinions and do not represent the opinion of Clubplanet.com or any one of its parent companies.