If there were a scale for guests on which to classify their own attitude and demeanour while staying at a hotel, most would probably describe themselves as the tidy, clean, polite, honest, considerate and fidel type – who, there’s evidence, does exist. We consider ourselves the best examples of that righteous species and are embarrassed by those guests who behave as though they were holding a non-restrictive jester’s licence of international validity.
Uncrumple entangled layers of bed sheets? Clear away dirty garments, underwear and socks? Let some fresh air in? Leave the bathroom in a state worthy of a civilized human being (including a flushed WC)? Simply tidying up a little as is usually self-understood at the home front, does not seem to even occur to a considerable number of hotel guests.
At least not, if Anna K. is to be believed, who published the book „Total bedient“ (Hoffmann & Campe) some time ago. The title is a metaphor meaning „I’ve had my fill“ as much as „Allround Service“. Understandably, the experienced hotel employee reveals the specialities of her work life in various high-class facilities by using a protective pseudonym. This article interprets the gist of her book.
That people consider theirs whatever is not bolted down, is common knowledge. Even a grand piano was once successfully snatched away right in front of everyone’s view. But usually the trophies pocketed at hotels are trivial objects like ashtrays, towels, bath mats and terry cloth robes, toiletries, hairdryers, mirrors, bed sheets, scales, taps, bulbs, TV sets – you name it. Wanting to „own“ staff who act as obedient slaves at all times, poses the darker side of the popular hotel-typical sport apparently practiced with undiminished vigor.
The messy: Sty game
Principles, good manners and etiquette, if ever acquired, often seem to be shed at the turnstile connecting to the hotel lobby. The degree of destruction accomplished during only brief stays is said to be more than astounding and caused by average people such as older couples, families or business travellers rather than by the classical drug-addicted rock star going haywire. The hovering whiff of body odours, smelly socks, a working metabolism of at least one person or the content of carelessly discarded diapers poses an olfactory offence to the innocent bystander – such as staff. Individual manual airing is possible in most hotels but a chance not taken by the majority of guests.
The old, the bad and the ugly: Power game
A safe distance away from the scrutinizing eye of their spouses, the predominantly male geriatric fraction becomes daringly flirtatious with young female hotel staff preferably at the bar. The bad news for the seasoned skirt chasers is that they are not being taken seriously by their prey, but are instead considered harmless old goofs trying to play Prince Charming on their marital furlough. Advances of a heftier calibre coming from the effervescent testosterone front are a completely different and far more serious matter.
After a strenuous working day or an exhausting shopping spree, guests are often present during turn-down service in the evenings. Male guests travelling alone share a frequent tendency that tries the patience of all staff, both female and male: Showers are logically taken in the nude. But how come that some hotel guests won’t put their clothes back on – at least the bathrobe – while their rooms are being serviced? When Housekeeping is rapping at their door, why answer „yes“ or „enter“, if their crown jewels are only minimally covered? A flimsy towel slung around the loins of more or less well-endowed males represents an unwanted proposition and a severe molestation of on-site staff.
The exposed: Fair game
The lowly maid not deserving a greeting in the morning is oh so desirable in the evening? While curtains are drawn or bed-covers turned down, female members of the Housekeeping fleet especially are exposed to crude sexual advances. After all, they are the fabric fantasies are made of: the devote subject clad in a tantalizing costume jumping straight from the Blue Movie into a hotel bed.
None of us are dreaming about you guys, says Anna K. But some of us are refusing to serve your rooms at night.
That guests can book professional „hostesses“ directly to their rooms via seal-lipped receptionists, is standard procedure. The convenient service is widely used. Anonymity be blessed. Unleashing one’s caged-in prowess when no-one is watching seems to be a phenomenon wildly flourishing throughout the hotel scape. If only protagonists would clear away unsightly condoms after use instead of scattering them around casually. Or put away the selection of adult toys purchased for added pleasure and now abandoned after their visible employment during another legendary binge.
The avengers: Sweet-retaliation game
Guests who believe that they can get away with just any sort of aberration are terribly mistaken. There’s punishment, subtle and far more effective than any advertised action could ever be. Petty offence would be penalized with benign pranks such as setting the alarm clock feature inside the TV for say, three-thirty in the morning. If the molesting guest cannot go back to sleep, even the better! For the unteachable small-town Rambo the lesson has to be more drastic: utilizing the guest’s toothbrush for a thorough scrub of the toilet bowl, for instance, including the infamous space underneath the rim, grants humiliated staff a happy moment of deep satisfaction. The best thing is: The thus reprimanded will never know! Although Anna K. solemnly swears that this variety of a castigation is not imposed often.
The ignorant: Rules to the game?
There does in fact exist a „warning system“ in hotel computers in which to list conspicuous and badly behaved guests. Consequences are rare, though. The average hotel management is said to turn a blind eye on their staff being molested and regard it as a silent agreement within a job description signed by them when applicants.
The lenient: Check-out game
During check-out, the cold truth has to be fought for: no way has there been consumption from the mini bar! Housekeeping must be responsible for this inexplicable imbalance! And how could they possibly charge for a Blue Movie viewed by pure accident? Punching all kinds of buttons on the remote control panel by mistake is a regular incident happening to many an excited guest. Most hotels won’t follow up and sooner opt for discretion. Unmolested by ramifications, the such mollified guest-king will return for sure – and continue his strategy. Why change routines then?
Header image: ©Christina Feyerke