Working as the General Manager of large hotel ended most of my naivety and gave me a whole new perspective on people, life and the workplace.
Most people check-in at a hotel using a credit card, however, many hotels accept cash too. One day a mother and son walked up to the front desk and requested a room. They wanted it for three days and wanted to pay with cash. Nothing about this scenario was strange, but their visit was just beginning.
Shortly after getting situated in their room, the phone calls began…
“Will you bring up more towels and wash cloths.”
“Do you have a fax service?”
“We need another set of sheets.”
“What time do you serve breakfast?”
“I spilled on the blanket and comforter. Please bring up one of each.”
We all decided that these people were going to be needy guests that ran us ragged.
On the second morning of the mother and son’s stay, they presented a letter to the front desk clerk and asked if she would fax it. The clerk said that she would be happy to fax it for them.
I could hear the fax machine as the papers were fed into it, the number being dialed and then the beep beep of it sending. Suddenly, the front desk clerk who was sending the fax burst into my office and said, “You have to look at this letter. It is to the President of the United States and she is threatening him. I’ve already faxed it!”
As she passed me the pages of the letter, images of military people in combat uniforms and big guns aiming at the hotel flashed before my eyes.
Reading the letter confirmed my fears. The guest was not only telling the President of the United States that he was evil and worshipped the devil, but also that he would suffer soon. The letter sounded like a threat towards the President and it came from my fax machine!
I remained calm because all my clerks and maintenance men were freaking out. Everyone was on edge because they just “knew” the military was going to give us a visit.
After the day ended, we hoped that the rest of the mother and son’s stay would be uneventful. However, on the third day, the phone calls started again with requests for towels, wash cloths, sheets, pillows, blankets and a comforter. Of course, they also visited the coffee station a million times during the day and wanted more of all the specialized creamers.
Finally, it was the morning of the fourth day and time for the mother and son to leave the hotel.
Check-out time was noon, however there was no sight or sounds from the aggravating guests. After repeatedly knocking on the guest’s door, the housekeeping staff finally came down to the front desk to say that the mother and son not only refused to let anyone come into the room, but also that they were not going to leave the hotel.
The front desk clerk called the room and was told the same thing that the guest had said to the housekeepers.
“We are not leaving and we will not be paying you any more money.”
I hated confrontation with guests, but when they refused to leave, I had to always make an attempt before taking more drastic measures. Arranging my suit coat nicely and pasting a big smile on my face, I knocked on the guest’s door. No sound from within could be heard.
I continued to knock, knock, knock, but it was futile. So I went back downstairs as I gathered my thoughts as to the next steps which would ensure that the people left my hotel.
The police arrived within ten minutes of my phone call to them. Handing them a room key, I rode the elevator with them and directed them to the guest’s room. That was the extent of my responsibility and I was able to leave the rest up to the police. I once again went back downstairs and stood behind the front desk waiting for the guests to leave.
Eventually, the police stepped off the elevator with the guests in handcuffs. At that point, I felt a sense of relief, however, the drama was not over.
Throwing themselves onto the marble floor, the guests both began to scream, “Jesus is going to get you because the redheaded General Manager is the Devil.”
Needless to say, my entire staff started laughing out loud. I stared at the guests and the police. Everyone was also looking at me.
The guests continued a chant that went something like, “The redheaded General Manager is going to suffer. Jesus says she is the Devil. Beware.”
I was somewhat speechless because I had never been accused of being the Devil. I looked at one of the older police officers as he asked, “If the redheaded General Manager is the Devil, why do you want to stay at her hotel?”
The guests ignored him and just kept chanting.
Since both guests were not small in stature, it took some strong muscles to drag them out of the lobby and into the police cars.
After they were gone, I went back to my office and wondered first of all, why in the world did people have to act so crazy. Secondly, what did I ever do to merit being called the Devil!
My staff talked about this guest continually for months and even years later if anyone said, “The Devil,” my employees could immediately recount the whole story.
Thank goodness I wasn’t living in the late 15th century, otherwise the police would have been hauling me off to be burned at the stake and nothing I said would have mattered! This is exactly how prejudice gets started – closed minded people with a personal agenda.