Adventures in Hospitality
Some people approach work as this thing which is simply a necessary tool with which to obtain the funding to live life. I don’t. I’m an experience hunter. Which is to say, I’m a writer. I collect experiences like some bug nuts collect butterflies. I find the weird ones, the mundane ones, the interesting ones, and even the silly ones. I snatch them up, pin them to mental cards, and move on to the next bit.
Oh I have career dreams, don’t get me wrong. I’m working on procuring a job at a TV studio because I have my degree in television production. I sort of want to build a career in that field. But at the same time, I’m also a writer. In order to write successfully, I find this burning need to, well, experience. Everything. Well, not everything. I also have morals. I’m not going to go shoot someone just for the experience of being a murderer. I’m not hunting for metaphorical bugs of doom and death. Just the ones I can reasonably capture.
That is to say, I have this list of jobs. Gas station attendant is on there. So is professional shopper. And sailor. And maybe a tour bus driver. Silly things. Potentially very interesting things. I’m only twenty-three and have not had much of a chance to check things off my list but I did have a fantastic opportunity several years back to become a worker at a hotel.
Yeah, I know. Sounds droll. It is – to normal people. I’m most certainly not a normal person.
This hotel (which shall remain nameless) is in the heart of Ohio wine country (because, yes, we have a wine culture here). It’s pretty fancy. Did you know that there is no such thing as a five star hotel? Not really. Some may say they are but that’s just for advertising purposes. Really, the rating system only goes up to four stars. We were a three star destination resort which means we had a super fancy restaurant and rentable bikes and things.
I won’t say I absolutely loved working there. I didn’t. But I certainly appreciated both the work and the experiences that I gained there. In fact, I appreciate them so much that I’m going to share a few of those memories with you, dear readers.
I started out at this hotel as a housekeeper. Don’t you dare call us maids. We’re not. Housekeepers are not your servants.
…Well, ok. Essentially, we’re maids.
It’s a backbreaking sort of job. Long stressful hours with lots of work. You’re expected to turn over a room within fifteen minutes. From the time you park your cart to the time you leave the room – fifteen minutes. Walk in, strip the beds, empty the trash cans, replace the linins, make the beds, replace the can liners, wipe down all the surfaces, rearrange the furniture, unplug the fridge, set the thermostat, spray air freshener, go to the bathroom, remove all used towels, replace the towels, scrub the tub/shower, clean the toilet, fold the toilet paper, wipe down the mirror, replace coffee things, scrub the sink and counter, scrub the floor, vacuum. Out.
It took me all summer to get that routine down.
But that’s only for checked-out rooms. There’s also this thing called a stay-over. As the name suggests, it’s a room that has guests staying the night. Those rooms are infinitely easier and faster. Empty the trash, take out the soiled towels, replace the linins if requested, refill the coffee things, sweep, wipe off the hard surfaces that aren’t covered in the guests personal items.
So one day, I was pulling my cart along to a stay-over room. We rotate rooms every day so I hadn’t had them the day before but it was clear that they had been in the room for a few days at least. I went about my business. Emptied the trash cans, swept the floors, yadda yadda yadda.
And then I saw the most bizarre thing in my entire housekeeping career.
Most people, when they stay over, have typical vacationer type things. Towels, clothes, various toiletries. Occasionally, I would find bottles of whiskey. A few times I found some improvised ash trays that stupid people forgot to throw out (we can tag on a huge fine for smoking in non-smoking rooms). Once I found a catheter which was pretty nasty. But never before had I laid eyes on what was in that room.
Never. Never before. Never since.
And you’re probably thinking the catheter was bad.
It’s not nearly as weird. I can promise you that.
The guests had brought their dog.
Now, dogs were actually allowed when I worked there. In fact, I even baby sat a HUGE Doberman for a guest when I worked at the front desk. We get small dogs and big dogs and yappy dogs and well behaved dogs.
But this dog? This was a dead dog. As in dearly departed. But wait, there’s more. It had been cremated.
Sitting there, on the desk, in the room, was this very ornate wooden box. The box was open. Inside the box was a small plastic bag of ash and a picture of the dead dog himself. It was a bulldog, in case you were wondering. Very cute.
Apparently, the guests thought so too. They had the ashes out on display. On the desk. In the room. For me to find as I cleaned.
I’m pretty sure I did a triple take.
I’m pretty sure my head did something like this: Is that—No! Is it? Oh my GOSH! It’s ASH! That’s a dog! That’s a cremated DOG!
After ogling the box for a very long moment, I finished the room and left. The upside is that the guests were actually really nice people. I met them in the hallway. They tipped me ten bucks. I like those people. Delightfully mad and great tippers.
So the moral of the story is this: always tip your housekeeper because you never know when they’re going to find your cremated dog…
My adventures in hospitality, specifically housekeeping were great. Lots of rich experiences to add. But I didn't stay there. I moved on to the front desk and became a Front Desk Associate which is a fancy way of saying that I stood for nearly eight straight hours every day at a counter in an uncomfortable polyester blazer. I checked people in and I checked them out and I did all those wonderful little tasks associated with Front Desk people. There were a bunch of fun little things that happened occasionally. Like that dog that I got to babysit. That was fun.
And then one day something very strange happened.
A delightfully odd man walked into the lobby. He was wearing a plumed helmet (think Roman soldier) and had this mischievous glint in his eye.
It was in the middle of summer, very hot outside and very hot inside because apparently we weren’t didn’t seem to be able to locate a fan for the front desk (that happened on occasion).
Anyway, in waltzes this wonderful man. He comes right up to the desk and announces that he is going to have a llama in the parking lot that afternoon.
That was it.
He walked back out again.
An hour or so later, I looked outside and, sure enough, there was a llama in the parking lot.
Just standing there, looking utterly bored in that llama sort of way.
The man was nowhere in sight. It was just this…llama. In the parking lot. Bored out of its mind.
Because, of course, that’s where llamas ought to be. Apparently. When they are owned by men with plumed helmets. I suppose.
Anyway, that’s a taste of some of the experiences I’ve had. Would I like to work there again? No, thank you. I got my taste of the field, my adventures in hospitality. I’d like to move on to something else. If I could go back in time and prevent myself from applying, I wouldn’t.
Don’t be afraid to work a crappy job. Simply keep your mind open and your heart glad and you’ll always find something interesting to talk about.
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