Posts Tagged humor
There are unique benefits and disadvantages to working at an independently run hotel like I do now. I tend to think this story represents both sides of that coin.
One of the nicer units we have available at the hotel is a 2-bedroom full-sized house on the hillside overlooking the property. It’s a gorgeous unit with an even better view that overlooks the property, the pool and the rest of the town. It has a full-blown kitchen, fireplace, and is our most recently and fully remodeled unit. It used to be the owner’s house on property. The one downside of this spectacular unit is that you have to drive down from the hill to access the rest of the property. There is a path that leads down the hillside, but it’s rather precarious and isn’t exactly safe if you’re not familiar with it. That applies extra in the dark, especially if there’s booze involved. We told guest’s as they’re reserving that there’s no direct path from the unit and that you have to drive up and down the hill. When they check-in we told them about the path, but ask them to please not use it. I had been asking the GM and owners to build a locked gate across the head of the path since I got there. That has finally happened, but not before this little incident happened.
I was sitting at my desk answering emails when my phone rings with a call from one of the reservations extensions.
“The guests in the <hilltop> are on the phone. They want to talk to a manager about the path,” said my agent.
“What about it?” I said playing dumb.
Long pause. She’s not sure if I’m kidding or not. “Ummm…the pool told her she can’t use it. She’s been yelling at me for like fifteen minutes on the phone.”
“Yup.” Audible sigh. “Put her through to my desk.”
I have no doubt that she’s been screeching and saying all sorts of mean things to my agent on the phone, but when I answer her voice is all soft and sweet. I let her tell me about how much she enjoyed her massage and they love the room, but that she thinks it’s ridiculous that they can’t use the path down the hill.
I go through my usual lines about all the reasons that the path isn’t safe.
She says she should have been told when she booked the room.
I tell her that’s our standard practice when a guest books over the phone. Then I point out that she booked her room online and that the information about the path restriction is actually in the room description on our website and on her confirmation letter. That should really be check-mate right?
Well she didn’t read her confirmation letter. I apologize and tell her that I’m really sorry, but that I just can’t allow them to use the path.
“Well then I think we might just have to check-out because this is just stressing me out too much.”
Really? You can’t just let it go? Sometimes in life we’re just not allowed to do things. Does it really need to stress you out? Can’t you just let it go and enjoy all the other awesome things going on? Packing up your stuff and moving isn’t going to cause more stress? OK.
“I’m really sorry if that’s the case. Of course if you don’t think you can stay in the room as it is I’ll release you from the rest of your reservation and you can check-out early without penalty.” They had actually checked-in the day before and already spent a night in the room. This is a $500+ unit and I won’t be able to resell them at that rate, but it’s better than having them harp on me the rest of their stay. It’s a compromise where really no one wins.
“And you’ll refund last night too?” She asked.
I wanted to laugh. “I can’t do that. You already stayed last night. The best I can do is release you from the rest of the reservation even though we’re inside the cancellation policy.”
“I don’t think that’s fair.”
I knew I could be opening the door to disaster for myself, but I went ahead and asked “Was there something wrong with the room last night?”
“Well no.” Surprisingly she answered honestly.
“But…” of course “…this entire experience has just ruined my vacation.”
“I’m sorry, but the best I can do is release you from the rest of your reservation without charging you for the remaining nights.”
“Well if we stay will you give us a discount?”
Eye roll on my side of the phone. “I’m not willing to do that. If you decide to stay it would be at the original rate you reserved.”
OK, I probably could have bent a little bit here. Even if I took $100 off each night it’s still more than I would have been able to resell the unit for, and we wouldn’t have had to clean it an extra time. There were legitimate business reasons to do it. I was sticking to principles, probably a mistake, but I also had visions of giving her the discount and then them continuing to fight us on using the path.
“AHHH!” She screamed into the phone. “Fine let me talk to my husband. We’ll get back to you.”
She hung up before I could respond.
Five minutes later my phone is ringing again. This time it’s the Front Desk. “The gentleman from the <hilltop> is here. He wants to talk to you.”
Of course he is. I head up to the Front Desk, put on my best customer service smile and step up to meet the guy. He’s all worked up and goes off about how this experience has ruined their trip and that I need to do something to fix it. This guy is short and greasy looking to be honest. He and his friend both have a trailer park, red neck, white trash look to them. Their massive truck parked out front is new but also lifted with huge off-road tires.
The guy is loud as he talked to me, and overly casual, calling me “buddy” and “pal”. He also explains to me how they stay with us often (I’d seen their file, they don’t) and that he’s rolling in cash. And mentions several times about how he’s always getting horrible service from people because he’s young and has “new money” and tries to get me to say I have the same problem. I’m pretty sure you get horrible service because you’re a loud obnoxious jerk. This isn’t about money for him he keeps saying. Really? Cause it kind of seems like it’s a little bit about money.
I reiterate the things I’m willing to do for him that I had already told his wife.
“Well then I want to talk to your boss.”
Of course he does.
“Well he’s not here today, but let me see if I can reach him.”
“You do that.”
Great. I step into the back office and then out the back door and whip out my cell phone and call the big guns. I explain everything and he agrees with me 100%. However, he’s willing to give them $50 off their remaining night just so we don’t have to resell the room. That’s the smarter call, and the easier one to make since he hasn’t had to be arguing with the guest.
I step back up and present my offer.
“That just won’t do it. I want a full comp for tonight and a free massage for my wife.” He isn’t quite shouting, but his voice is very loud.
“I just don’t see that happening.”
“Well why don’t you see if your boss sees it happening.”
Great again. I excuse myself and go make the call. The resounding answer is “No way” as I knew it would be. My GM hates to negotiate in these situations, it just rubs him the wrong way.
When I step back up to the desk there’s another guest in the lobby now so I usher the man outside. I tell him that our original offer stands, and that if that doesn’t work for him then they’ll just need to check-out as we originally discussed.
This is when things turn really south.He goes back into the woes of being young with money and getting shit service, as he sits on the tail gate of his lifted F350. Not kidding. He tells me how his wife was upset with him last night and so he didn’t get laid, and that if I don’t give him something to make her happy now, he won’t get laid tonight. This is an entirely inappropriate conversation. Especially at the volume he continually speaks.
He keeps trying to get something out of me. His lowest “offer” being that he wants a free massage for his wife so that she can relax. I stick to my guns and he and his buddy head back up to theto decide whether they would stay or go. When I get to the back deck I find one the members of the owning family waiting for me. At that time he was also the maintenance manager, and he had overheard the guy talking to me out front about his trouble getting laid, and he wanted the rest of the story.
As I’m filling him in, the Front Desk Agent pops her head out to tell me about what happened when I stepped away the first time to call the GM. When I was out back on the phone she answered a call for a reservation and was trying to sell the <hilltop>. He was standing at the desk and heard her mention the unit’s name and started shouting to be heard over the phone, “Don’t do it! It’s not worth it.” repeatedly. She obviously didn’t sell the room.
That was the clincher for the owner. “That’s it. They’re not staying here. I’m kicking them out.”
“Really?” I say a wide smile spreading over my face.
“Yeah. Let’s drive up there.”
We’re just about to get into a work truck when the douche nozzle drives back into the lot in his massive truck. I point him out to the owner, let’s call him Delta for this, and Delta walks up to the guy as he rolls down his window.
“Hi. We were just coming to tell you that we’ll take the $50 discount and stay.” The guy said.
“Hi. I’m Delta one of the owners. We’d actually like you to check-out. We don’t need your business here. Please don’t return.”
“What? Really? Why?” The red neck sputters.
“I don’t appreciate your language in front of our other guests or trying to drive reservations away from us as we’re trying to resolve and issue for you. You have 30 minutes to check out.” Delta explains.
“Fine.” The guy said in what seemed like indignant astonishment.
“Thanks. We’ll bring you the bill for last night.” We turned to walk away.
The douche bag revs his truck and as he pulled out behind us he shouted, “I can’t believe they let fags work here!”
Delta looks at me and says, “If they’re still there in 30 minutes call the cops and have them evicted.”
Now technically I don’t know if we could have gotten away with that, but I didn’t mention that. I could tell Delta was really pissed now. And in that moment, Delta was my hero.
So I drove the bill up. The wife actually said as I handed her the bill, “Why does this always happen to us?”
Because you’re an idiot, and your husband is a huge ass hole. Probably mostly because of your husband though and all his “new money”. Too bad you can’t buy class.
Five months later I get a call from Reservations. It’s the douche bag and his wife once more trying to book a day at the spa. Their file indicates that they’ve been black listed by the owners. So I get to have the awkward conversation with them that they’re not welcome back on the property by the owners.
“So we can’t ever come back?” the wife asked.
“Not after your last visit. I’m sorry. Not as things are now. No.” I replied. I thought it best to make things as blunt as possible. Although I wasn’t really sorry. That’s just a reflex.
“Is there anything we can do?” her husband shouts over the speaker.
“Write the owners and see if they’ll change their minds. I can’t over ride the owners.”
I never found out if they wrote in or not, but last I checked they’re still black listed. Good for them.
I’m exposed to far too much nudity in my line of work, and it’s never been enjoyable. In fact it’s been entirely male nudity as far as I recall. This is especially true at my current property where I’m as much involved in Spa Operations as Hotel Operations. Usually it’s because someone has passed out from one of our heat intensive bath treatments. Extreme heat and booze just don’t mix people.
This particular incident happened this last summer or spring. I know the weather was particularly nice, but hell it’s California, so that doesn’t really narrow it down.
I was just sitting down for lunch at my desk, deli sandwich and emails yum! When my cell phone started ringing. Being a manager I never really “clock out” ever. I’ve also been a line employee and had manager that were horrible about answering their phones whether they were on a break or not, so I take pride in the fact that generally my staff can count on reaching me by phone. I checked the caller ID and saw that it was a fellow manager, our Spa Supervisor who I will call Jelly Bean for a reason that only really makes sense to me and her. She would be quite annoyed if she knew that was her pseudonym actually. Perfect.
I answer the call. “Hi Jelly Bean,” I say with a forced smile in my voice.
“<Hotelnerd> there is a naked man lounging by the pond,” she whispers into her phone. For the record we are no a clothing optional facility.
“Ooookay…” Chuckle. Jelly Bean was still a relatively newly minted manager, in fact this might have been 2 summers ago now that I think of it. “Would you like me to come talk to him?”
“No….I can do it….” there’s strong reluctance and uncomfortableness in her voice though.
I take pity on her. I start standing from my chair. “I’ll be right there.”
It’s about a 30 second walk from my desk to her location. I get out there to find a gentleman sprawled out on a chaise lounge chair, his robe draped across the chair next to him basking in the radiance of the sun. Four chairs down from him sits a lone woman reading a book with a hand up to the side of her face to shield her peripheral vision from the site. Jelly Bean is on the other end of the pond so I give her a little wave as I approach the gentleman. As I approach, I can’t help but get the Full Monty as it were. I really didn’t need to know that this guy believed in waxing….everywhere.
I come up beside him and bend down to speak softly but firmly to him. “Sir. I don’t mean to disturb you, but we’re not a clothing optional facility. I’m going to have to ask you to put your robe back on. Please.”
He opened his eyes and looked at me, “Really?”
“Yeah, I’m afraid so.”
“Fine.” He sighed and rolled his eyes at me.
“Thank you. I appreciate it. Sorry to bother you.” I said and turned to walk away as he got up to put his robe back on.
Jelly Bean circled around her end of the pond and we met out of sight. “Thank you. I really didn’t want to get that close to him.”
I shrugged at her, “Not a problem.”
I walked back to my desk and had just taken a bite of my sandwich when my phone started ringing again. I glared at it accusingly where it sat on my desk. Jelly Bean showed up on my caller ID again. Great.
“Hotelnerd, he has the robe on now, but he has his legs spread straddling the chair and every time the wind blows a little the robe moves and exposes him again.”
Sigh. “I’ll be right there.” I was already out the door.
I repeat the trip over. Approach the gentleman again, but he’s readjusted himself before I could get there so that his legs are stretched out straight now, not spread and his robe is completely folded over him. I just keep walking past him, circle the pond and meet up with Jelly Bean.
“Did you go talk to him?” I ask.
“No he repositioned right after you hung up.”
“Alright well I’ll hang out for a minute to see if he acts up again.” I tell her and we step around the pond so that that it’s less obvious that we’re watching him. He must have felt our eyes on him, because he sat up, swung his legs to the ground and stood.
His robe sash WAS NOT tied shut. A gust of wind blew and his robe flew open, flashing the lady still 4 chairs down trying to read her book. I see her hand fly up again to shield her view. He could have quite easily gotten up the other direction, or tied his robe shut, or done any number of other things, but that obviously wasn’t his goal. He starts walking off down the boardwalk towards the rest of the spa, robe sash still untied and robe billowing out behind him like a cape.
“What’s he doing?” Jelly Bean says in outrage.
I’m wincing as I say, “I think he just gave us the Full Superman.”
I took off at a brisk walk after him. I have long legs and the distance disappeared fast. Yep, still not a single hair on this guy except on his head. Joy.
“Sir.” I’ve lost most of my pleasant courtesy at this point. “I need to ask you to tie you robe closed. You’re exposing yourself.”
“Fine. Fine.” He waves his hand at be before snatching up the ends of his robe sash and tying it closed.
“Thank you.” I say as he walks away.
You’d think his nakedness would end there. It didn’t.
I come up to the Spa Front Desk later and hear my staff there talking about a naked man.
“Oh you mean the one out at the pond that Jelly Bean and I dealt with?” I ask.
“He was naked in the lobby!” They tell me.
Apparently after interacting with me for the final time, he made his way all the way back to the locker room, disrobed, then came out into the lobby to ask the Front Desk where the bathroom was. You know….the one he walked right past to reach the locker room. Shocked they quickly directed him to the right door. After using the restroom, he returned to the locker room and put all of his clothes back on. I later found out that he came out into the lobby and was complaining to his friends about how he was trying to relax at the pond but we wouldn’t let him.
Really? Really!?! REALLY!??? I was more than happy to let you relax at the pond. You just had to keep your junk out of sight!
But from now until the end of time Jelly Bean and I will refer to a naked man at the pond as a “Code Superman”
I was listening to the Nerdist Podcast Episode 139 with Neil deGrasse Tyson and one of the questions that Chris Hardwick tossed at Neil deGrasse Tyson was “Tell me about a day in the life of a scientist” or something to that effect. Neil kind of chuckled, much how I do when considering that question, because he doesn’t have such a thing as a “typical day”. By and large I can say the same thing, every day I show up to work, and outside of some basic responsibilities that go along with whatever shift I’m working that day I don’t ever really know what the day is going to throw at me.
Typically I get here, and if nothing else is immediately more pressing I check my voice mail and do my initial scan of my email inbox. In a day I receive 15 to 40 emails in a day that require varying degrees of my attention. For the record I hate voice mail, I hate voice mail at work and I hate it at home. Email and text is such a better way to get a hold of me. As I’m scanning email or immediately afterwards I try to touch base with any other managers that are around, especially my fellow operational managers. Often times they have some critical piece of information that is going to shape the rest of my day from staff being out sick, issues from the night audit shift, upset guests I might encounter, maintenance issues, or one of the owners running amok around the property.
Next up is my first walk around the property for the day (assuming that nothing more pressing jumps in my path). I’ve talked about this before, but I think I would go crazy if I was stuck at my desk or in meetings all day. I love going out to walk around the property and see it with my own eyes, it certainly doesn’t hurt that I work on a particularly beautiful property. On this walk I try to hit as much of the property as I can, not just my department, but the pool, guest areas, the spa, laundry, everything I have the time for. There are times that I can’t help but think of myself as Admiral Kirk touring the Enterprise at the beginning of The Wrath of Kahn. I shared this particular image with on of my staff one time and now she calls me “Captain” whenever she feeling like humoring me, or is buttering me up for something. On this first walk I try to survey as much of the property as I can and in particular I’m looking for anything that might be amiss, maintenance issues, staff (specifically uniforms), and littering (I pick up garbage all day long). More than looking for things that might be wrong, I’m also mentally settling into my day.
It’s after this point that I usually can’t tell what the day will hold for me next. Here’s just a sampling of what I had to deal with today.
- People not staying in the hotel or visiting the spa that thought it would be nice to picnic on our front lawn with their massive dog (we don’t allow pets).
- Relocating some guests that tried to sneak their 7-year-old into a room in a part of our lodging that is 18 and older.
- Former guest upset about our $10 charge to ship some lost & found home to her. Apparently places she’s stayed always do it for free. Right. Sure they do.
- Broken heater in a guest room after maintenance has left.
- Guest that wanted to complain about the couple that brought their 7-year-old and we relocated. Wanted a discount even though we made them leave.
- Guests with both glass and alcohol at the pool. Our pool is hot.
- Two staff members missing their name tags.
- It’s a holiday weekend and we’re running low on change.
- Multiple people who want to talk to me about why their case is special and they should get an exception to one policy or another. Some got their exception and some didn’t.
- Motorized housekeeping cart with a dead battery that we have to push back to base. Those things are solid metal and loaded with shit.
And some of those bullet points become a little routine, but even the routine ones are somewhat unpredictable. Every guest interaction is different and a bit unpredictable even if you’ve dealt with the same issue a thousand times. You just can’t tell how it’s going to go until you’re in it. That’s about it for today, but I still have about an hour and a half left. Along with that I’m answering questions from my staff and the staff of other departments, pitching in on phones, pitching in at the desk, slogging through my emails, doing more property walk around, staying in touch with the other managers. I can also be composing memos, designing procedures, writing employee evaluations or written warnings. And the property owners weren’t even here today to heap random projects on me. I only take short breaks to blog at work so that I can vent some steam quietly and not explode on people.
And I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I love working in hotel operations, and even when I’m a GM someday or if I become an owner even, I hope to at least have a couple of toes in the daily operations. At least I feel that way now, if it ever stops being fun then it’ll be time to run as fast as I can away from operations.
This is another old story, but a favorite.
Once again, it was back in my days as a lowly Front Desk Agent. I was working at a mid-range high-end big brand resort. It was a pretty busy day with check-ins for a large corporate group we had in-house. The group was spread throughout the property in various room types depending on where they ranked in the corporate hierarchy.
I don’t even remember checking this woman in, it could have been another agent, but I was the one who caught her when she stormed back up to the Front Desk. She threw her key packet down on the counter and said, “This isn’t right. I should be in a suite.”
In my head I groaned. We were pretty much at capacity, and at the moment I just assumed that the Sales Office had oversold us on suites and downgraded this lady without giving the Front Desk a heads up. It wouldn’t have been the first time. I knew we were at capacity for suites. I never let my stage smile falter though. I recovered her keys from the counter and said, “Alright. I have the group’s contract in the back. If you can wait just a moment I can check the room assignments from your group. I’m sure we can sort it out.”
“No,” she snapped. “You’re going to give me a suite right now.”
Looking back, this is when I should have known that something wasn’t quite above-board.
“I’m afraid I have to check the contract before I can make any changes to your reservation.” I tried to sound as sympathetic as I could, she wasn’t making it easy though. “I promise I’ll be right back. Thank you.”
I turned up my stage smile to 11 and ducked in the back before she could say anything else. My Assistant Manager had been listening and already had the paperwork pulled. We used her room number on the key packet to pull up her reservation and went to work. Change log showed she was always in the standard room type that she was already in – I miss having a PMS that keeps a detailed change log – and marvel of marvels we had a group rooming list that was signed by the group contact (the person in her corporation that booked the group and assigned the room types). It actually looked like the Sales Office hadn’t screwed the pooch, but just to be safe we called the group contact on her cell phone. She verified that the room assignment was right.
I walked back up front with a look that I hoped was sympathetic. “I’m sorry Ms. <GrownUpBaby>, but according to the contract with your company, this is the room you’re supposed to be in. We verified it with Ms. <GroupContact> and she said it was the right assignment. Even if she approved an upgrade, I’m fully reserved for tonight. I don’t have an upgrade to offer unfortunately.”
That really should have been the end of it. All the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed.
It wasn’t though. I guess here is a good time to somewhat describe this woman. Tall, blonde, moderately attractive, and somewhere in her early to mid 30’s. Definitely too old to act the way she was about to.
“You don’t understand,” she sputtered. “My father is in a suite. I want one like he has.”
“You really need to discuss this with your company’s group contact. She assigned all the rooms.” I replied.
Her nostrils flared and her eyes narrowed at me. “I hope you don’t like she job,” she snarled. Then she whipped out her cell phone like a Bond villain about to detonate her Armageddon machine. I was quaking in my boots. No! Not even close!
Why do they always threaten my job? And as a manager, why do people insist on someone being fired when they complain to me? Does anyone even realize how horrible the affront would have to be for that to happen? I guess reasonable people do. You lose sane person points when you make a demand like that.
She placed the call while staring daggers at me. Meanwhile a line had developed, so I used my secret help button to ring for help and my Ass.Man. came up to work the other station.
I was about to ask her to step to the side so that I could assist the other guest when her call was answered.
“Daddy!” she whined into the phone. “They won’t give me a suite like yours. Make them give me a suite.”
I don’t know how he responded, but she made her dissatisfaction with the response apparent by screaming into the phone and slamming it down on the counter of the Front Desk several times. I’ve only rarely experienced that “record screech” moment that you see on TV and movies. You know where the record screeched to a halt and everyone in the room stops and just stares at some poor bafoon that has just done something totally embarrassing. Yeah, that happened here.
After slamming the ph0ne down repeatedly. She picked it up and screamed into the thing again, totally oblivious to the eyes on her. At that point my Ass.Man. slid up beside me with her cheerful guest smile on and quite pleasantly asked her to please step aside so that we could assist other guests.
She glared at my Ass.Man. but stepped aside from the direct line of the desk. For whatever reason she didn’t leave. My Ass.Man. and I got the line that had developed, and witness the episode moving again and within relatively short order we were once again left with just the prissy little adult baby staring daggers at us. I could tell my Ass.Man. was about to say something to her when a group of men in suits walked into the lobby. One of the men, and older gentleman, tall in a well made suite and an affable look to him, detached himself from his associates and came over to us. He had an entirely unperturbed and pleasant expression on his face until he reached the desk.
He turned to the spoiled little princess leaned in close to her his smile gone, and hissed just loud enough for us on the other side of the desk to hear. “Listen to me you little brat. You’re not getting a suite. Don’t you think if they had one they would have given it to you by now just to get you the fuck away from their desk after the scene you just made.”
Spoiled Brat’s mouth dropped open in what seemed to be genuine astonishment. Then the man turned around, reaching into his pocket and drew out his wallet. My Ass.Man. stepped forward, and with only a hint of the anger and contempt he has just unleashed on the Brat, he pulled out a Platinum Amex and said to my manager in a very calm and almost pleasant voice, “Can you please find make a reservation for her at another hotel tonight. I don’t care where you find her a room tonight, but she’s not staying here.”
He handed my Ass.Man. his Amex, she copied down the number as well as the man’s cell phone number and promised to make her an alternate reservation. He turned around and began to escort her by the arm away, but stopped just a few steps away, turned and said, “Make sure it’s not a suite.”
There was a squeak of protest from the woman before he hauled her back into motion and shot her another withering glare. My Ass.Man. and I were grinning somewhat vindictively as they walked up the stairs in the direction of her current room.
I couldn’t help but think that it was probably her “Daddy’s” fault that she turned out the way she did. I wonder if he ever realized that too?
We made her a reservation on daddies card, across town, in their most basic room, at a resort that was just a step below us. She’s lucky we didn’t just call the Best Western and leave it at that. We didn’t even have to resell her room after she checked out, the group was already paying for it whether we sold it or not.
OK so this didn’t happen to me. It turned up on a random web search as I was looking for other hotel worker blogs. I got a kick out of the video. Really? Video taping the Front Desk guy? I’ll admit the guy behind the desk lost his cool a little, but I really can’t blame him. People have tried to do this to members of my staff in the past, never to me. It’s really not likely to get you what you want. It’s such a passive aggressive bull shit tactic that I’m willing to just not help them any further and politely ask them to leave the property.
This guy is just hilarious. He has some small issues with the staff, but really is problem is with someone named Iain (I think I spelled that right…) Someone needs anger management classes really.
I’m really surprised there aren’t more of these on YouTube. You’ve failed me Internets.
So other than our crazy Necromancy Lady we haven’t had a lot of crazy guests lately. And crazy guest stories are one of my favorite things about being in the hotel business. Reading the Hotel Opus blog and this post in particular has made me want to share more of the stories I’ve collected in this business. So I decided to dig into the vaults of my mind and pull out an old favorite that I haven’t shared on the blog before. This is likely to be the first of many.
I was still a Front Desk Agent and was working at a medium-sized high-end (major brand) resort. I usually worked the swing shift, 3 PM to 11:30 PM in those days because it complemented my school schedule. I hadn’t been at this resort long, I was only a couple of weeks out of training and just starting to work solo. In fact I still hadn’t decided I was going to make a career out of this business. I was still thinking my plan was to become a lawyer.
On this particular evening, I was manning the Front Desk by myself. The mid shift had gone home already, as had my departmental manager. We were short on managers at that time so the properties Director of Operations was in his office and occasionally walking around as the property manager on duty (MOD). There was a large corporate group in-house, and while they hadn’t bought out the hotel, they had the majority of it and they had taken over the lobby that evening. I can’t remember if it was an official event of not.
I was working through my check-list of shift duties when a lady swayed her way up to my desk. I won’t lie, I had already noticed her in the lobby. She was sitting on a couch with an older gentleman dead center in my eye line whenever I looked up. And though she was at least 20 years older than my 19 or 20 something, she still looked pretty good. Definite Cougar territory. Although with the haze of memory it might have been a “Good from far. Far from good” type situation. She and the gentleman on the couch had been there for quite a while and had worked their way through several glasses of wine, and they had gotten a little more cozy with each one.
I smiled at the Cougar and said “Good evening. How may I assist you?” as I had been trained.
“Can you give me a room for like half an hour so that my boss and I can go screw.” I swear on Captain Picard’s bald head those were her exact words.
My mouth dropped open and just hung there for a second before I could stammer a reply, “Ummm…uh…I can’t just give you a room. I’d have to charge you something.”
“Really?” she pouted “We really just need it for 20 minutes so we can go make love.”
“Really. The room would have to be cleaned. I can find you my lowest rate, but it couldn’t be free.” I insisted.
“Well what would that be? Because we just need it for 15 minutes so we can go fuck.” She was getting a little testy with me now and the booze was starting to show through her sober act.
I guess I could have told her, “We’re a 4 star resort. We don’t have hourly rates let alone rates by the minute.” But I didn’t. I looked through my rate screen and found the lowest rate that I could justify handing out to a walk-in that night.
“It would be $195 plus tax.” I said after half a minute of scanning my screen.
“We just need the room for 10 minutes,” She pleaded. At this point I’m thinking, Damn, give the guy a little credit.
“I’m really sorry, but that’s the best I can do.” I replied. I tried for a sympathetic smile, but either it missed the mark or she didn’t appreciate it.
“Is there anyone else you could ask? It’ll just take 5 minutes I promise.” I’m not sure how the damsel in distress routine is supposed to work in this situation.
As I mentioned before, the MOD for the property was our Director of Operations, a man I had had almost no interaction with since my interview with him. He seemed nice enough, but I did not want to call him and ask this question. So I lied.
“I’m sorry. There’s no one else for me to ask. It’s just me. That’s really the best I can do.”
Maybe she smelled the lie. Maybe she was just a dirty horrible person, but she scowled at me and said “Fine. I guess my kids will just have to wait down in the lobby.” And then stomped off in a huff like I was some kind of monster.
My jaw dropped open again and hung there for considerably longer this time. Really? I’m a bad person, because you’re sleeping with your boss and making your kids wait in the lobby is your best option? Gee, I wonder why they couldn’t go back to his room? And was making your kids wait in the lobby really the only other alternative? One of you two must have a car.
The bellman on duty that evening had been lurking in the back office and slowly came around to the front of the desk equally as astonished. He had been at that property for nearly 16 years at that point and so I asked him, “Do you think I should have just given her a room?” Maybe I was just way off the mark here. He busted up laughing at that point and said, “No, I was surprised you offered the rate you did.”
He and I did a quick instant replay of the conversation. The bellman also threw in some extra juicy information. He had checked the lady into her room that day, but had also helped her husband out when he had come and dropped off the kids with her last-minute. There were 5 kids up there ranging from 3 to 12. I wonder why her husband dropped them off last-minute? Hmmmmm….
We both laughed for a few minutes until the bellman finally asked, “What are we supposed to do if she sends her kids down here?” He was a dad and a little conservative and after our chuckle was a little outraged. “Shouldn’t we call child protective services? It’s just wrong.”
I shook my head in befuddlement. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Maybe they’ll think of a better solution.”
So twenty minutes goes by, and no kids show up in the lobby. I breathe a little sigh of relief. Another guest comes in and checks in with me, and the bellman shows them to their room and helps with their luggage. He comes back afterwards his jaw hanging open in astonishment.
“What?” I asked with a sinking feeling in my stomach. The new guests checking in had been just a couple of doors down from the Cougar.
“There are 5 kids in pajamas sitting outside room ### in the hall.” He whispered. “And I could hear the mom and her boss inside the room from the hallway.” ICK!
I winced and sighed. “I’ll call the MOD…”
I gave him the Reader’s Digest version of what happened over the phone. He was only slightly less astonished than me. He said he’d have security check it out, and if the kids were still in the hall, that we’d have to interrupt the Cougar. By the time security arrived the kids weren’t in the room. I guess her original time estimate was pretty close to the mark. I’m told that security knocked anyways and explained to the Cougar that her children can’t be left unattended in the halls or any public areas of the hotel.
So it’s been over a week since the crazy hotel guest I previously blogged about, came, stayed, and checked out. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to blog about her. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a real way to do it. Was she just as crazy as her previous phone call indicated? You betcha. Maybe even more so. It’s hard to relate the story of her stay in any coherent fashion. That’s just how crazy this woman was. You can’t hold all the crazy stuff she said in your brain for very long because it made so little sense, and it just flies out of your mind as fast as it comes in. There’s just no way to process it. Did you know that if you let someone else slide your credit card through a machine, that the CIA can then change one or two of the numbers on your card through necromancy? I saw her talking to the license plate on a car. And she had trouble spending money that someone else had given her as change, because that person that gave her the change might wish her ill will. And it’s a bad omen that we have a statue of a seahorse in the same line of sight as the statue of a mermaid. All of this and much much more.
However, for the most part she was a very nice person. She did create a small scene in the spa and disrupt other guests. But in the grand scheme of things she’s just a very nice lady who’s subjective reality is just totally different from the one that the rest of us live in. I just had to feel bad for her in the end. She was a very sweet lady. A lot of her madness was centered around not bringing bad mojo down on herself or others. At the same time, it was tedious and tiring dealing with her, and I’m ultimately glad that she didn’t stay more than 24 hours on property. She will go down in my personal history as one of the craziest individuals I’ve ever had to deal with though. And those of us that worked with her will have several inside jokes to share for the rest of our time together.
You would think from the title of this post that this was going to be one of my nerdier posts. It’s not. It’s purely work related, and that just makes it even odder.
I’m sitting at my desk, just minding my own business, when my phone rings. It’s one of my agents calling me from reservations. She insists that I have to come up and take over this call, because she’s been on the phone with the same person for nearly 45 minutes and can’t make any headway in finishing the reservation because the lady just keeps babbling about nonsense. I’ll be honest I rolled my eyes in annoyance.
“Really? You’re serious?” I ask.
“Yeah, I can’t take it anymore. You have to take over.”
Reluctant sigh, “Alright. I’ll be right there.”
I drudge up the stairs and come into the office with a hefty glare prepared. All the ladies at the desk are all in a tizzy of laughter and bafflement over this call I’ve been brought in to finish up. I glare them into silence, because this just seems ridiculous to me at this point. I’ve been in this business for 12+ years, and I’ve never had a phone call or guest at the desk so nuts that I couldn’t get my job done. I get on the phone and make some lame excuse about how my agent was called away to assist another guest who needed her personal assistance, but that I’m her manager and happy to assist with completing her reservation.
I can’t really accurately describe the next 25 to 30 minutes that followed, it was that surreal. There’s a certain level of crazy babbling that you can absorb, but the rest just becomes white noise after a while that your brain can’t even begin to try to decode. Trying to absorb it all is useless because you have no common point of reference to start from. Sure we’re both speaking the same language, fluently, but we’re coming from totally different subjective realities.
So here was my strategy. She babbled a lot of nonsense that I couldn’t really understand, but a lot of it was weird magical malarkey. She had concerns that during her bath service in the spa that the attendants were going to be shapeshifters that would work necromancy on her. She babbled about faeries & the fey and King Arthur and Merlin. She used the word shyster and shystery constantly. She changed words using “Blah” at the beginning or “ery” at the end constantly. Every now and then she would say “that’s just a little joke of mine” but never tied to anything that seemed remotely related to a joke. So in between murmuring non-committal agreements, I worked in the questions I needed to get answered to get her reservation made and her off the phone. So gradually over the course of our phone call I got all the information I needed, but could barely keep myself from laughing. And the most awkward part was that she wanted a full description of the agent that was helping her so that she could thank her for all of her help when she arrives later this week. But she also wants me to screen her for being a shapeshifter by looking for 30 to 40 seconds into her eyes to see if I see small crosses in them or the color change. And she has to hold her face very still, but I can’t tell her that’s what I’m checking for. There was also some magic word that I was supposed to say that might make her react if she was a shapeshifter. She’s never seen it happen, but she was told about it when she was in France. Then I got to ear about her trip to “London or Blahndon as I call it, then I fled across the pond to France” and on and on and on. Her conversations with the Taxi driver that drove her over 100 miles from one city to the next on this trip, because she doesn’t drive herself. I pity that driver. She told me about the people at the front desk of the hotel she’s staying at now, and what she thinks about them and their energies. She had a brief commentary on Christianity and the Bible, but “I’m not a Bible thumper mind you” It also might be an ill omen that her reservation needs two confirmation numbers (because she’s changing rooms during her stay and thus has two reservations). I’m supposed to check in a couple of hours to make sure her reservation is still there and that no shystery is taking place. Because if it’s going to happen that’s when it would be. Oh and her groceries from Whole Foods got stolen from outside her hotel room in Monterrey. No really this all just happened.
You’d think I was making all this up. I’m not.
I wonder what her phone bill is like….
I honestly wish that we recorded our calls so that I could share this with more people, because even the people in the office watching me on this call can’t really comprehend what she was saying and I can’t remember enough of it to do the experience any justice. Only one person can even come close to understanding what happened and that’s the initial agent who talked to her. Of course, she’ll be here soon and then they’ll all understand I imagine.
So, she’s arriving in 3 days, and I don’t know whether to look forward to it, for the amazing story that might come out of interacting with this mad woman, or to dread the enormous waste in my time she’s going to cause in my day. I’m going to likely err on the side of enjoying the hilarity she is likely to bring to my day, as long as she stays pleasantly insane and doesn’t become nasty or start causing a scene.
In the end, when I finally got off the phone. I just sat there and laughed with my staff for a good 5 or 10 minutes. There isn’t much else to do in that scenario. And of course accuse them all of being shapeshifters and necromancers!