#2. The Celebrities Are Tame by Comparison
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I mentioned above the amorous lady offering me pills and pot as a tip -- getting offered drugs and alcohol is actually fairly common. But by far the weirdest was being offered "Hollywood" memorabilia from a '70s television actor who starred in a show about a teacher being welcomed back or some such nonsense. I didn't do much for him, so it didn't bother me, but what confused me was how he thought he was doing me a favor. Sorry, dude, but "old crap I have to auction" is never as valuable as cold, hard cash.
In general, the celebrities like to come in late at night to avoid crowds. Bruce Willis showed up once and whined about his luggage being placed on the bell cart while his girlfriend apologized for him profusely. Another time a comedian came in with a fresh kidney, donated by his dear wife, no less. This seemed to fit his family-friendly sitcom persona, until I found out he was stumbling drunk and came into his room with several girls who all had two kidneys.
Presumably. If a guest prefers not to have their organs inventoried, we try not to press the issue.
Another time, a drunk woman cornered me while walking through the hotel and thanked me for my years of service. I don't know if she thought I was a veteran (I'm not) or if she just really liked the way I carried luggage. She then proceeded to tell me, for 30 long minutes, about how she actually ghost wrote the movie Independence Day. I asked if she wrote the Bill Pullman speech, and she said she didn't. It was one of the most significant bummers of my hotel career.
Almost as much of a bummer as Pullman's career after that movie.
The best visit had to have been from Bill Cosby -- when he came in, he pulled a very grandfatherly bouquet of plastic flowers out of his trunk and gave them to the female security officer. On the way up to his room, he doled out folksy wisdom and cracked dad jokes to the delight of his two-person audience. I guess this would have made for a more interesting story if he had, I don't know, pulled a switchblade on me or something. But he just seemed to really care about making people happy.
#1. The Armed Security Is Terrifying
If I'm making it sound like being rich and powerful is a pretty sweet deal, well, it probably is. But then you run into the people who have to constantly surround themselves with a small army to avoid being murdered.
We once had a vice president stay at the hotel. It may have been a secret, or they just forgot to tell the night staff. When I pulled in to park in the employee lot, a man wearing a suit (no uniform, no badge, and no visible gun) raised his arm and told me to stop. My brain immediately turned to Hollywood memories of tantalizingly European terrorists kidnapping rich people. Well I wasn't about to be a pawn in that game.
20th Century Fox
I also tried to park far enough away that he wouldn't get Hans Gruber'd right through my sunroof.
I high-tailed it out of there and drove to the rear of the building to the employee entrance, to see what was going on. Before I could park to go inside, three men were at my car, guns drawn, telling me to step out of the vehicle. I told them I worked at the hotel and showed them my badge. They let me go but told me that every car had to be sniffed for bombs before parking. After a change of clothes and a shower, I endured the most boring night of my life, because apparently no one wants to go to a restaurant or bar and have to wait in line to have their car searched by Secret Service.
We had another high-level political official check in with a complement of Secret Service and local police. I went for a break with the overnight chef out back of the hotel, and we started bullshitting about the insane level of security. I wondered aloud if they were possibly listening to us while we were outside. Our question was answered when the chef innocently mused that it would be horrible if that night was the night a bomb went off in the hotel. I was shocked that she would say this. The agents in the unmarked car across the street must have thought it was hilarious, however, because we could hear them laughing.
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But by far the most security we've ever had was for big oil executives. We shut down two entire floors for them that only a select few hotel employees were allowed on. I was not one of those employees. Unlike the Secret Service dudes, rich people private security is as twitchy and heavily armed as every single character in a Michael Bay movie. That didn't stop my manager from sending me to their floor to pick up luggage, though, because all the most exciting gambling is done with other people's lives.
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"So, serpentine pattern with the bags?"
"I'm not paying you to dawdle in the hallways, kid."
I was a sweaty, nervous wreck as I entered the elevator. All night I had been surrounded by extremely armed security and had been told over and over I wasn't allowed on their floors. As the elevator doors opened, my mouth started working without permission from my brain, and I pulled out my ID card and yelled, "Management sent me here to pick up bags!"
The security officer (with two visible guns on her person) instructed me to wait for the bags to be brought to me. My brain still hadn't caught up, and I showed every guard that passed my ID and loudly told them why I was there. They all had a good laugh at me, but the joke was on them because nobody shot me.
For more insider stories, check out 5 Terrifying Things Only Truckers Know About the Highway and 6 Disturbing Things I Learned Writing Your Textbooks.
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