Meet Robert Hookey, aka “The Hook”, aka the Chronicling Bellman

(PHOTO: Stock Image)

Editor’s note: This is part one of an on-going series about successful bloggers and their habits. Read  part two here and click here to read part three.

There’s nothing typical about being a bellman. Robert Hookey knows this first-hand as a steward at the Niagara Falls Canada-hotel where he works.

One minute, he’s calling a cab and giving directions to a couple visiting from Australia, who tip him with smiles and a handshake. The next, he’s attending to Min. Louis Farrakhan’s bodyguards, who won’t let Hookey handle the Nation of Islam leader’s luggage without supervision.

Such conditions require Hookey’s quick wit and ability to small-talk strangers – skills that also serve him well as an author and the popular blogger, The Hook, who divides his time between his brainchildren, The Book of Terrible and You’ve Been Hooked.

The former gives readers an eyeful of Hookey’s obsession with pop culture. “I usually scan entertainment and news sites to find inspiration,” he says in a recent interview. According to Terrible, The Hook’s origin is as follows: “I [was] the kid whose life really changed the day his parents handed him that first comic book.”

Hookey’s now, according to the bio, “a forty-something white Canadian male who doesn’t like hockey (I know, what’s up with that?) and doesn’t drink beer or eat back bacon.” He’s also a husband and father, proud that his only daughter, Sarah, inherited his writing talents. “She represents everything good and pure in my life,” Hookey says, amazed at the 14-year-old’s way with words.

While he doesn’t engage in what passes as Canada’s pastimes, he enjoys movies with Sarah as they stuff their faces with popcorn and guzzle soda (Oh, I’m sorry; they call it “pop”). As The Hook, he watches how people react to their popularity.

(PHOTO: ibelieveinthejoker)

“Most celebrities have no idea of the magnitude of the gift they have been given and so they squander their talents,” according to The Hook’s bio. “I’m here to point out that fact and hopefully, entertain a bit in the process.” And nothing’s off-limits, not even Barbie. Here’s what The Hook writes in a post about the doll’s declining reputation: “The 55-year-old plastic diva appears to have become the Reese Witherspoon of the doll world.” Ouch!

It’s the rave among fellow bloggers. “I love your enthusiastic attitude,” writes Jackie Paulson, a single mom and Sagittarius. “Your batman logo is awesome.”

Maddie Cochere, an Ohio-based author, was also ecstatic. “How did I not know of this super secret and amazing blog?!” she writes. “Am I missing anything else?”

Hookey’s just as funny when he’s sharing his bellman (mis)adventures on his other blog, You’ve Been Hooked. His work life sounds like a successful sitcom. “I’d love to adapt my work to another medium,” Hookey says, “but I simply don’t have any idea how to get started.”

So, instead, he self-published his earlier posts in a book of essays titled The Bellman Chronicles: Shining Light on Mankind’s Missteps From The Trenches… “If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know what it’s like to make fun of your customers the second they’re out of the room,” writes Jefferson, an Amazon customer. “With [T]he Bellman Chronicles you get a peek into the life of Hotel service…step into their break room and listen in, poking fun alongside them.”

The bellman’s blog is just as amusing. “My hotel posts write themselves,” says Hookey, a nearly three-year blogger and native of St. Catharines, Ontario, a 15-minute drive from where he works at Niagara Falls Canada. He adds, “I’m not clever enough to fabricate the situations I write about.”

No fabrication needed for the post about the gorgeous woman who thinks her husband ignores her. Upon check-out, she sends hubby and their five kids to wait downstairs, while she pours her heart out to The Hook in the empty hotel room, waiting for the nervous bellman to make a move. “Its funny how some people will just bare their souls to perfect strangers,” writes Hookey in the post “The Hook Dodges a Bullet – Barely!” He continued:

It’s also funny how some people will start to move slowly towards their bellman with the same look The Coyote gives the Road Runner! Actually, it isn’t funny when it does happen. I responded by simply asking her a question as I moved towards the door, quickly.

He didn’t have to fabricate his post about the International Union of Elevator Constructors who organized a two-month elevator strike that delayed lift operations and construction throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

When those setbacks affect his hotel, Hookey acts quickly. He jumps into United Nations-negotiating mode to please frustrated tourists who either waited 30 minutes for the lift or stood terrified when the Journey Behind the Falls elevator stalled 10 feet into its 150-foot ride to the bottom of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. His efforts paid off, with those guests tipping him generously.

Another payoff was when WordPress “Freshly Pressed” two of his posts – one from The Book of Terrible and the other (two years later) from You’ve Been Hooked. Now, for the uninitiated, “Freshly Pressed” is when WordPress picks eight of its 500,000 blogs to highlight. “Getting promoted to Freshly Pressed is a major traffic win,” according to the popular blogging platform. “ receives a huge number of page views every day…so being highlighted exposes your post to a wide audience and brings you a flock of engaged new readers.”

(COVER ART: Robert Hookey)

That was my introduction to The Hook. His “Freshly Pressed” post on The Book of Terrible recorded 4,110 hits that day, while his You’ve Been Hooked post drew in 1,283 hits. The excitement last for a few days. “Then,” according to Hookey, “things get back to normal.”

But, again, we’re talking about a bellman whose day is everything but. Hookey’s blogs and book gained him admiration from his colleagues. “I am a bit of a Grade D celebrity,” he jokes. Of his book, he adds, “The only real reward worth nothing has been the realization of a lifelong dream.”

That Grade D celebrity buzz also thrust him into an unfortunate, but hilarious, encounter with a hotel guest. While transporting luggage for an elderly guest and his too-young “companion” to their car, Hookey worked his charm with some elevator chitchat. “The housekeeper told us you were that guy who wrote a book on hotels,” the guest inquired. “Is that true?”

When The Hook mentioned his book on adventures in Hotel Land, the “golden-aged” man unsuccessfully tried to punch the bellman’s face. The man’s rage stemmed from the fact that he owned a chain of inns. He mistook Hookey for another author whose book about “all the dirty, little secrets and tips hotel owners don’t want you to know” landed him a spot on 20/20’s expose on hotel practices.

That situation aside, he enjoys the perks of his job that include enough writing material to make any author jealous. And that’s not all. “I occasionally get a whole range of swag,” Hookey says, “from snow tires” – he’s dead serious! – “to Red Bull hoodies.”

There’s also downtime to write his blog posts and self-publish a book. Of the latter, Hookey says, “I sold to pretty much everyone at the hotel and made my money back pretty quickly.” That makes his wife, Jackie, almost as happy as her Vampire Diaries TV series. As an occasional social media user, she sparingly reads You’ve Been Hooked.

And The Hook’s OK with that. His current priority is getting his daughter’s work out there. “I’m trying to concentrate on helping my daughter launch her book series, The Misadventures of Misery,” he says.

The series revolves around a young girl, who owns a bookstore in New York City, and her best friend Misery’s perpetual bad luck. Together, they visit Misery’s hometown and learn that Misery’s relatives are supernatural beings. These connected tales encourage everyone to celebrate their differences, while embracing their common interests.

That creativity is among Hookey’s inspirations. “I’m a people watcher,” he says. “The world never fails to inspire me.”

44 thoughts on “Meet Robert Hookey, aka “The Hook”, aka the Chronicling Bellman

  1. Reblogged this on You've Been Hooked! and commented:
    Alan W. King has taken pity on yours truly and honored me with a post on his wonderful blog. Alan’s work is a cut above and deserves to be held up as an example of how a blog can truly touch and affect the lives of its readers.
    Good work, Alan.

  2. This is my first visit here thanks to the link provided by The Hook. “You’ve Been Hooked” is in my Top 5 favorite blogs.

    I am following you on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, etc.

    Also, I’ll be a regular reader here!

  3. Alan,
    I have to hand it to you, my friend, you’ve made me appear interesting – which is no mean feat!
    But seriously, your words have honored me and touched my frozen Canadian heart.
    You are truly the best.
    Thank you.
    The Hook.

    1. If you would just eat your back bacon, the salt therein would help thaw that frozen Canadian heart of yours. If you don’t like it solo, use it to make a club sandwich (without cheese because that’s an abomination) and sit down to lunch while watching an episode of “Adventures in Rainbow Country” or an A&E Bruno Gerussi biography.

      Don’t forget to tip Mr. King with a bottle of Grade A maple syrup for the fine post about a fine blogger.

    2. I’m glad you’re a fan and if The Hook buys the syrup, I’ll spring for the postage.

      (In case you were unaware, The Hook and I are no strangers and, being a Canadian myself, have to resort to bacon’s salt and Canadian beer’s high alcohol content to serve as cardiovascular antifreeze.)

    1. This post has been enlightening for me, as well — in terms of what The Hook’s job entails, his skills at managing those requirements, and just how popular he is online. I’d say The Hook is pretty lucky have devoted readers and fans that, in some way, regard him as family. Thanks, Jennifer, for the encouraging words and for taking the time to comment 🙂

  4. > Another payoff was when WordPress “Freshly Pressed” two of his posts
    – TWO of his posts? What? Where? When?

    >one from The Book of Terrible and the other (two years later) from You’ve Been Hooke
    – Ah, two years earlier. I got on The Hook’s bandwagon a year and a half ago.

    What post was that, Hook? If it’s not too much of a hassle, couldja please post the link here?

    >His “Freshly Pressed” post on The Book of Terrible recorded 4,110 hits that day, while his You’ve Been Hooked post drew in 1,283 hits.
    – Thanks for these stats.

    I had suspected the number of visitors to FPed posts would have dropped ever since they moved off the Login page to a separate tab upon log in. I have rarely gone there since.

    I had begun reading Freshly Pressed posts when I was in the ‘researching’ phase of my own blog. I did not have a WordPress account at the time.

    Hmm. So there are a whole lot of non-WordPress readers who miss out on Freshly Pressed posts as well. I wonder what prompted, um, Management to make that switch. Bestow Freshly Pressed posts the cachet of exclusivity perhaps?

    >The excitement last for a few days. “Then,” according to Hookey, “things get back to normal.”
    – Oh. Just like real life celebrities. I had wondered about this, too.

    >“I occasionally get a whole range of swag,” Hookey says, “from snow tires” – he’s dead serious! – “to Red Bull hoodies.”
    – Good on you for not looking your gift horses in the teeth, Hook. SOMEone you know could use those, you know? You could be the 365 day Santa to people you know!

    >As an occasional social media user, she sparingly reads You’ve Been Hooked.
    >And The Hook’s OK with that.
    – And that is one of the secrets of their everlasting marriage. Accepting and respecting each other’s diverse interests.

    >These connected tales encourage everyone to celebrate their differences, while embracing their common interests.
    – She’s a chip off the old block(s), that Sarah. Despite his sometimes seemingly grumpy words, this is ALSO what The Hook is about – unity and equality.

    I like how you’ve woven this story about The Hook with fitting extracts from some of his posts, Alan.
    I’ve also learnt about some of the WordPress workings in the bargain! Double score!


    1. Kate, thanks for this comment. It’s always good to know what parts of an article or post connected with the reader or which parts said person focused on. I’ve said this before, but I had a great time writing this piece on The Hook. Thanks, again.

  5. Brilliant piece on The Hook Alan, excellent journalism 🙂 It was great to get to know Robert that bit better!

    Thanks for sharing.


  6. WELL NOW……Where did this “THANG” come from????….Didn’t know you had another *REAL PERSON* Blog….Your Kinda CUTE…..(Don’t tell the Wife!!)….LOL….I’m now following you here as well as “GOT HOOKED”….I have an Book/Author blog as well as AT: Hope you’ll stop by and say HELLO!! Hugs and Blessings! Catherine 🙂 🙂

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