- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

Tesfu Ocbazgi doesn't stand still for very long.
The 37-year-old bellman at the Four Seasons Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue is constantly running from one assignment to the next delivering flowers and faxes and unloading luggage in guests' rooms.
"I love it," says Mr. Ocbazgi. "Time goes by fast."
He usually replaces his black shoes every six months or so.
His first job on this hot and muggy day is to restock the mini refrigerator that is hidden in a wooden cabinet outside the lobby of the hotel.
He moves quickly to a room near the lobby where some of the guests' luggage is stored and the extra bottles of water are kept. The water bottles are for the parched guests who arrive at the hotel not the employees, Mr. Ocbazgi says.
He later goes to a supply room to restock the storage room with more cases of bottled water building up about a two-day supply.
Within the first hour of his day, Mr. Ocbazgi has covered hundreds of square feet of the hotel delivering faxes on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, faxing directions to the hotel to future guests, dropping off a bouquet of flowers to one surprised guest and unloading luggage for several guests who had just arrived.
Mr. Ocbazgi, barely breaking a sweat, says it's all in a day's work.
He retreats to the concierge's desk in the middle of the grand lobby to get more assignments. Mr. Ocbazgi says delivering faxes is so important because most of the hotel's clientele are business people and likely need the faxes for their jobs.
Mr. Ocbazgi has a master key to all the suites. He knocks first. Then knocks a second time before unlocking the door. As he's entering, he announces himself.
"Hello? Bellman."
He places the fax on the desk and is out of the room in seconds.
Mr. Ocbazgi heads to the front of the hotel to fetch a cart full of three pieces of luggage waiting to be delivered to a guest's room. Usually he and the other bellmen on duty alternate delivering the luggage for the arriving guests.
On the way up to the room on the fifth floor, Mr. Ocbazgi exchanges some small talk with an exhausted guest who is on his way back to his room.
"Always with the guests, you have to be friendly," Mr. Ocbazgi says.
He knocks on the door of guest Sally Alvino, a Huntington Beach, Calif., resident who has just checked into the Four Seasons on her way back from a trip to Europe.
"How was your day?" Mr. Ocbazgi asks a tired Ms. Alvino, who plans to spend a couple of days in the city sightseeing.
Mr. Ocbazgi puts her luggage on a suitcase stand and points out some of the hotel's amenities like its 24-hour laundry service and 24-hour room service.
He also shows her some of the perks of the room like the private bar, the radio and CD player and the television hidden in an entertainment armoire.
He's recited that script hundreds of times, but Mr. Ocbazgi says it with such genuine ease it sounds like he's crafting it for the first time.
He gives her a quick demonstration on how Web TV works after she asks how she could check her e-mail. He even runs down the hall to fill up her ice bucket.
Ms. Alvino stretches out her arm and nonchalantly gives him a tip. He graciously accepts and leaves the room.
Tips aren't mandatory but, of course, a welcome bonus.
"Sometimes you make them, sometimes not," Mr. Ocbazgi says. "Sometimes you just get a thank you."
Mr. Ocbazgi, a native of Eritrea, a country near Ethiopia, came to the United States in the early 1980s and lived in Phoenix for a few years before moving to the Washington metropolitan area.
He parked cars at the JW Marriott Hotel for seven or eight years before becoming a bellman at the Four Seasons.
Mr. Ocbazgi is one of 18 bellmen and doormen who work at the upscale hotel. He usually works five days a week from 4 p.m. to midnight but pulls a double shift if a bellman calls in sick.
When Mr. Ocbazgi started at the Four Seasons he worked the late shift midnight to 8 a.m. which allowed him to learn the ins and outs of the 259-room hotel.
He learned quickly where each of the half dozen elevators leads to, where a room is located on a floor and what goes on behind the scenes.
The floor plan is easy now, says Mr. Ocbazgi as he runs off to his next assignment delivering another fax to a guest.


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