5 Things You Learn About Rich People Working at a Nice Hotel
The rich and the famous live lives of unthinkable luxury in their gated homes far away from us commoners. But if you want to peer into their bizarre lives without the help of a telephoto lens, all you need to do is get a job at a fancy hotel. Cracked sat down with Taylor Crane, a man who worked in one such hotel and saw the dirty, sometimes literally shitty exploits of the One Percent firsthand. Here's what we learned ...
Rich People Live by Different Rules
The guests pay quite a bit of money to stay at a luxury hotel, and they liked mine because of the quality of service provided by its staff, and its discretion. That means if you want them to come back, you turn the occasional blind eye to whatever illegal shit they're into. I once got a call from some women who'd just gone up to their room, asking me to bring a bag from their car. They asked me not to look inside it, but apparently they'd forgotten that, just before leaving the car, they emptied the bag of all of its drugs, did the shit out of them, and tossed the whole mess of narcotics around the inside of the vehicle.
"Sorry; when the cleaning lady is out sick this place gets messy quick."
What do you think would happen to you if you were caught looking like a bag full of illegal drugs had exploded in your car? Here's what happens if you're a rich person staying at a fancy hotel: An employee (me) carefully gathers up your drugs, puts them back in the bag, and hustles them up to your room. When I told a security guard about it later, he asked if I had taken any of the drugs from them. I told him no, of course not. He informed me that I should have, because, hey, free drugs.
Another time, a valet driver (not me) saw a man get out of his car and drop a small bag full of white powder. Again, the valet quickly ran and grabbed it, then found the man inside the bar. He told him to check his pockets, and said if something was missing he should meet him in the bathroom. The man did as requested and hurried to the bathroom to retrieve his, I'm assuming here, laundry detergent.
Or cool ranch powder. The rich sprinkle that shit on everything.
That's just the way it works -- you accommodate the guests, and at that income level, it means you stay out of the way of whatever they want to do. When a car full of female escorts pulls up, you go and assist them. It isn't illegal prostitution when rich people do it -- it's just a "private party."
On another occasion, I went to collect bags from a guest, and when I was let in, the room was in shambles. The windows had been taped. Not just a little tape on the window, either -- the entire window was covered. I was completely taken aback. It looked like the meth house from Breaking Bad (pick one), but the guest walked out in a suit, spoke like a completely normal person, and had all of his teeth. He never once acknowledged the mess other than to mention he needed housekeeping. I asked the housekeeper about him later and she just shrugged and said he tipped well.
Although the bills did keep trying to roll back up.
That's the other thing -- management never cared about destroyed rooms, because the guests tended to have the money to cover it, so at worst the room was out of commission for a night or two while we replaced everything with the stash of extra room items we had on hand for this exact reason.
If all of this sounds very amusing, imagine yourself in this situation: I got a call one night to go make a guest's bed but was told I would need gloves because a mess had been made on the sheets. As I approached the door I heard a lady tell her husband to "blame it on the dog." When I got to the room I found that: A) the sheets were covered in smeared fecal matter, and B) there was no dog.
There Is a Lot of Very Awkward Nudity
My first week working at the hotel I got a call to let a guest back into her room. I step off the elevator on the given floor and see a woman who looks drunk out of her mind peeking around the corner from one of the hallways. I say hello and ask if I can assist her with anything. She runs away. Down the hallway where I'm headed. Also, she's bare-ass naked. This, of course, is the guest locked out of her room. I had to give this woman the standard spiel asking if I could assist her in any other way, offer amenities, and a list of other things while she stood naked behind her door (if I didn't, she could tell the management and I could be fired).
Also, people are constantly having sex in the public restrooms. Almost every weekend we had to ask couples (plural) to stop having sex in the bathrooms. Not leave the hotel bar (they were buying $8 Bud Light bottles, after all), but please just stop having sex in the bathroom. That's all.
It's tough to tell someone to get a room when you all know they already have one.
My creepiest encounter was with a woman who was going through a divorce, who sob-storied her way into a huge discount in order to afford a stay at the hotel. The other staff treated her somewhat poorly, and I took offense, thinking that they treated her this way because she was poorer than our usual guests and wouldn't tip as well. (I found out later it was because she was racist and had called a co-worker a racial slur.)
I spent a decent amount of time with her that night, talking and just being nice because I felt bad. She asked me to get something out of her truck and bring it to her room. Upon entering her room, she offered me an assortment of pills and pot as a tip. I politely declined. Before I could leave, she asked me if I was shy. I thought it was an odd question but answered that in fact I was not shy. She then stripped down and asked me to rub lotion on her back. Seeing as how I had to do what the guest wanted (and she wasn't too bad on the eyes), I did it.
The whole time she stood facing away, and grinding her backside into me. And if you think this is going to lead to a clearly fake sex story borrowed from a porno, don't worry -- after I rubbed the lotion on, she promptly put her clothes back on and said thanks. To be clear, I wouldn't have done anything with this obviously crazy woman. It just would've been nice to have the opportunity to say no.
The Super Rich Have No Concept of Money
Ever watch a documentary about developing countries and hear the people in a village talk about how they have to spend hours every day retrieving water from a nearby river, and how precious clean water is to them? And when you hear that, as a person living in a fully developed country, you can't even conceive of what that's like, to have to always think about where your water is coming from and constantly worry about running out? Well, that's how the rich are with money.
If some of the wilder stories I've heard from plumbers are to be believed, at least.
Specifically, the ones who have been rich long enough that they don't really have any concept of the value of money. Sure, they'll pay attention to how much they paid for a house or a sports franchise, but they don't do their own shopping and they don't see their own bills -- other people take care of that stuff. This is never more obvious than when you see them try to figure out how to tip the husky bellman who's just schlepped eight pieces of luggage from car to room.
"I forget: Is it 15 percent of the bill, or of their total net worth?"
They seriously just hand you random bills. I was once tipped more than $100 for showing a guest a cab that was on the front drive. Another time I spent an hour showing a room to a guest and unloading two cars worth of luggage, only to get tipped $5 in ones. It wasn't that I did a poor job or that the guest was a miser -- it was the fact that in his mind, he just handed me five bills and that was a lot. It was a foreign concept to him; it'd be like if you went to some primitive country that used beans as currency. You'd just give people handfuls of the stuff until they seemed satisfied.
If at this point you're wondering if famous people ever stayed at the hotel, the answer is yes, but ...
The Celebrities Are Tame by Comparison
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.
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.
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.
Cracked Note: Your results may vary.
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.
"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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