Smile and your guests will smile with you

Updated: 2011-10-13 09:07

By Guo Rui (China Daily)

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Smile and your guests will smile with you

Lu Zhuheng is a famous doorman at the Dolton Hotel in Changsha, capital of Hunan province. [Guo Rui / China Daily]

CHANGSHA - More than 50 years old and just laid off from a steel factory, Lu Zhuheng's tough but peaceful existence was gone.

"Life turned difficult and I didn't know what had happened," he said in a slightly trembling voice.

So when he landed a job as a temporary gardener at the five-star Dolton Hotel Changsha, he was able to put food on the table. But because of his plain and dusty uniform he was forbidden from entering the lobby.

He often stared at guests and other hotel staff in suits in the lobby through glass windows.

"It reminded me of the dirty and disorderly environment at the steel factory," Lu said.

"I wanted to work in the lobby. I wanted to lead a decent life," he said.

After several years of hard work - 12 hours a day starting at 6 am - he got the job he wanted as a doorman.

"I'll never forget the day I started to wear a tuxedo. It was April 30, 2004," he said. "I felt like a new man. I could smile more confidently."

But first the then 53-year-old had to learn to greet guests in English. He memorized each word by repeating it hundreds of times a day.

Now, wearing his signature smile, he is ready to lend a hand with a lively voice.

"Hello, I'm glad to be at your service!"

He greets guests with basic conversation in English, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

He once helped an American tell a taxi driver he wanted to go to the airport - a word he had learned just a few days before.

Some Spanish travelers, who were surprised to be greeted by Lu in Spanish, gave him a Bible in a delicate box as a gift of thanks.

"He is my inspiration," said hotel resident Zhao Liyong said. "Every time I hear Lu's ardent greetings, it lifts my spirits, especially when I'm in a bad mood."

For many young hotel staff, Lu is a respectful and cute uncle.

"He feels like our dad. He was born on Dec 24, so we throw him a birthday party every year on Christmas. He is our family," said Guo Yi, a 26-year-old colleague.

Hotel manager Guo Huqing is also very satisfied.

"I offered him the job of doorman because he had worked so hard, and his smile was contagious. But I wasn't sure whether he could maintain his friendly manner," Guo said.

"He hasn't let us down."

While Lu's biggest wish was to create a better life for his family, his father and wife both died of illness last year.

"Now I want to do everything happily and keep smiling with everyone," he said.