Working a Hotel Front Desk Is Like ‘The Hangover’ Meets ‘The Shining’
“We never did find the other end of the dildo—although I have my suspicions about where it ended up.”
Welcome to hell. Image via 'The Hangover'
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
The people who work in hotels have seen a lot of shit, both literally and figuratively.
Tantrums, orgies, heart attacks, nudity, even the occasional hostage situation—going on vacation can bring out both the best and the worst in us, and the stalwart men and women of the hotel industry are often the ones left to play clean-up, in the process, becoming more acquainted with the details of their guests' private lives than they ever needed (or wanted) to be.
VICE has collected tales from behind the front desk, stories that are one part The Hangover and one part The Shining—stories of needles and broken dildos, code names, piles of cash, and enough bodily fluids to fill a complimentary ice bucket.
For us, it's a vacation. For them, it's a multi-night stay in Hell with two king-sized beds, no A/C, and a fully-stocked minibar of human depravity.
*All names have been changed to preserve anonymity
When I was 19, I was working in a five-star hotel in Auckland, and one night we got a noise complaint about a “banging sound” coming from someone's room. So, two of us—both women—go upstairs, knock on the door, the door flies open, and out wafts the smell of sweat and semen. And in the background, it's no longer the boring old hotel room, but instead, a porn set with an all-male orgy happening right in front of us. The assistant or whoever who answers the door is all pissed that we've ruined their take, and neither of us knows where to look because there are just dicks everywhere. So, I tried to politely stutter through a sentence asking them to, you know, maybe keep it down. At that point, one of the men in this orgy starts freaking out because he's now lost his boner. Long story short, the assistant says—snarkily—that they only have one more scene left then they'd be keeping the noise levels down.
I didn't argue and left them to it. — Janet, 35
I had been working at this downtown hotel for about three months. We were getting into the slow season, and I was working the night shift with my supervisor. I was the front desk, he was in the back office. Around 9 PM, as I'm winding down my night, these two women approached the desk and told me I might want to have security check their floor, as there was someone banging on the door of the room next to theirs. But before I could go mention it to my supervisor, the switchboard starts going off. Sure enough, it was the guest in the room these two women had mentioned—he told me someone was trying to break down his door, and that I needed to get security up there. I told him I'd look into it, but before I could do anything else, the phone rang again—this time from an outside line. Now there's a woman on the phone, saying “Someone's holding my friend hostage in one of your rooms.” Again, same room.
Now, this was a moderately-sized downtown hotel. We had security on the overnight shift, but they didn’t start until 11 PM. So really, this situation was going to be my supervisor's problem—except when I went to find him, he wasn’t in the back office. And he didn’t have his radio. So there I was, with a major situation on my hands, and the only people in the hotel were me, and two janitors, both under five-foot-five, with the collective threat level of a fucking koala bear. A minute later, there was another call from a different guest on the same floor. The woman on the other end telling me she was too scared to leave her room. The two women from earlier returned to the front desk insisting I call 911.
So, I did.
I told them what I'd heard. And I used the word “hostage.” And in the meantime, the fucking switchboard wouldn’t stop ringing. I put the 911 operator on hold. The man from the room screamed at me to get security up to help him. The woman from the outside line screamed that her friend was in danger. I told her the police were on their way. I went back to the 911 call, and the person on the other end was like: “Sir. You can't put 911 on hold in the middle of a hostage situation.”
After a few minutes, eight police cars showed up. They started planning their assault, and in the meantime, I tried to remain calm and got back to helping some other guests—in this case, a British woman and her daughter. Suddenly, the two women shouted, “That’s the guy!” pointing at a man who had just hurried out the front doors. I heard a gun being cocked, and suddenly all eight cops poured around the corner, racing out after this guy—the last of whom was a giant, seven-foot-tall black guy carrying the largest shotgun I’ve ever seen. We found out later that our guest had ordered a sex worker, they'd fought about the price, she'd stolen his wallet, and locked herself in the bathroom. She called her pimp, who'd tried to beat down the door, and she called her friends, who had been calling the hotel saying she was a hostage. It was a fucking mess.
A few minutes after it was all over, my supervisor returned from what turned out to be his dinner break. And of course, he walks past eight cop cars, and goes: “What the hell did you do?” Of course, we kicked the guest out. Even after all that, he still didn’t get it, asking something to the effect of: “Why aren’t you protecting me from these sluts?” — Brad, 32
For us, airline crews were always the most disgusting guests. Without fail, room service would deliver food to one of their rooms only to find a group of them, all naked. One time, one of my co-workers knocked on the door and the guy who answered had a full erection but was still wearing a condom. They didn't care one bit about being naked in front of us. Worse was, they'd leave their rooms in such a gross state that the housekeepers should have worn hazmat suits. They'd often leave *actual shit* in their beds or behind the front door, and leave used condoms all over the place. Just awful. — Kara, 42
"I want your most expensive room"
Back in 2001, my wife and I took over a hotel on a small island—probably 5,000 people. It's an eclectic place that attracts some very intense people—wild, artistic, interesting folks. One January night, back in 2002 or so, I get this call on the night phone, and the woman on the other end says, “Hey, I'd like to rent a room.” This is about two in the morning on a Wednesday, but there's not typically a lot of action in January, so I jump out of bed, and when I get to the front desk, there's this disheveled-looking woman in her 40s and a guy—really muscular, same age, looks like he just got out of prison, and he's just baked out of his gourd. And she says: “I want a room for tonight. Actually, no. I want three rooms.”
“Okay. For how many nights?”
“One night. No. Fifteen nights. And I want your cheapest room.”
“Okay, that'll be $79.”
“No. I want your most expensive room. Three of them. Also, I'm being followed. This is Mike, my bodyguard. You'll see a man out front in a white pickup truck smoking a cigarette. He can't know I'm here.”
And I'm going: Oookay. But I decide to play along and suggest that maybe she needs a code name.
“That's a great idea. What should my code name be?”
“How about Neo?” I'd just seen The Matrix.
“Neo. I like that. What's yours? You'll need a code name, too.”
“Call me Morpheus. And how would you like to pay for your stay?”
And she reaches into her handbag, and—I shit you not—pulls out a roll of hundreds that's probably seven inches across, and starts just peeling off bills.
“How much do you want?”
And I said: “Well, let's start with $2,000, and we can just run you a tab.”
“OK. And I want to leave you a tip.” At that point, she peels off another $1,200.
By this point, I was curious, so I asked her for a bit of backstory. And she says “Oh, I own a very prominent trucking company that everyone in North America knows the name of. I'm being followed, and I just want everyone to leave me alone.”
Sure. Whatever. That's cool. So, I gave them their room keys. Then, ten minutes later, I get a phone call. “Morpheus, it's Neo. We need food. Do you have room service?”
We didn't, but I brought them up some soup and bread.
Then, the next morning, the bodyguard comes down—super baked, again—looking for an Xbox he can borrow. He asked if I'd seen his client so far that day, and as we're both standing there pondering where she is, suddenly this pickup truck comes flying down the driveway with squealing tires. It takes off up the road with her behind the wheel. And the bodyguard goes: “Um. That was my truck.” She'd just randomly stolen the guy's vehicle.
Then, a bit later that day, I get a call from a friend who says “Hey, some lady who says she knows you just wandered up my driveway and offered me $700,000 for my house.” She ended up buying his house, as well as two other houses while she was there. Eventually, she checks out of the hotel, but now she has houses, so she ends up hanging around the island, and I saw her around the community for months. Like I said, it's a small place, so everyone knows everyone, and probably two months later, I get word from somebody else that now she wants to have a baby. She ended up making arrangements to get pregnant by this guy in town—this dude who's sort of a local fixture with big dreadlocks, probably 50 or so—but he doesn't know anything about the pregnancy, or even who this woman is.
And then after that, she just disappeared. This was all about 15 or 16 years back. But the fucked-up part is, two weeks ago, I wander into the hotel one day—I don't work the front desk anymore—and there's this incident report. A woman has fallen down in the restaurant and says she broke her back. She'd checked in saying: “People are following me. I need multiple hotel rooms for a bunch of days, and we need to be left alone,” and I'm thinking, Fuck me. This all sounds really familiar. And I checked back through the guest logs, and sure enough, it's the same lady again, 16 years later. Apparently, she still owns the houses, so I have no idea what she was doing back in the hotel. She just did the whole thing over again.
I mean, over the years, there have been plenty of weird guest experiences, but that's the one that left the most lasting impact. It had it all: drama, fanfare, pregnancy, and of course, huge piles of cash. — Aaron, 40
The case of the missing half-dildo
One night, some guest complained that a smoke detector on their floor kept going off. I checked and it didn't seem like a big deal—someone in room 2104 was taking a hot shower, and the steam was causing the smoke detector to go off. So I went back down to the front desk. Probably 40 minutes later, I got another call regarding the same smoke detector. I went back up—same room with the shower on, 2104. I thought, OK, something's wrong here. No one showers for 40 minutes. I went back down to the front desk to grab keys and had a co-worker come back up with me. It was pitch dark in there, but we managed to fumble our way to the bathroom, asking if anyone was there. No one responded. And when I turned on the shower light, we found bloodstained towels, used syringes, and a big, broken dildo. As in: broken in half. And the top end was missing.
It was like a crime scene in there. My co-worker and I were both just like “Holy shit. What is going on?” Then, when I got out of the bathroom and turned on the rest of the lights, we found a naked dude in his 30s lying on his side on the floor by the balcony. I thought he was dead. My co-worker saw his naked ass and started shaking and wanted to throw up. She ended up going out into the hall, and I called 911. So, I had to stay with the guy—which I really didn't want to do because I was thinking he might suddenly wake up and start going crazy. The 911 attendant asked if he was breathing, so I went to take a closer look. Luckily, his chest was moving. His heart was still beating—thank God—but it was so unstable. It was beating insanely fast, like it was in overdrive. Then, the woman on the phone told me to lie him on his back—which I also really didn’t want to do, considering he was fucking naked.
So, I grabbed the dude's leg, but then he started twitching. And I'm thinking to myself: Shiiiiit. This is too much. This 100 percent isn't in my job description. The dude just curled up on his side, so I went back, lied to the woman on the phone and said: “Yup, he's lying on his back.” The paramedics were there so fast—probably within five or six minutes—and they took it from there.
We never did find the other end of the dildo—although I have my suspicions about where it ended up. — Danny, 30
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