ghost in the motel

Though our housekeepers aren’t perfect, they do a pretty good job and are fairly thorough (but I must admit that those 20/20 or Dateline-style exposes on the cleanliness of hotel rooms are pretty spot-on; only the sheets and towels are changed daily), so when we had a wave of complaints about dirty rooms, we wondered just what exactly was going on. Invariably, the complaint was that although the room appeared to have been cleaned, the bed seemed used, there were occasionally damp towels in the bathroom, and without exception, there was a used condom and wrapper, plus baby wipes in the otherwise empty trashcan. That is not the typical MO of a lazy or forgetful housekeeper, for if they do make a mistake, they will generally forget to bring back linens and make up the bed, or simply skip the room entirely. The other usual reason for a dirty room showing as clean on the computer is that a forgetful desk clerk moved a guest from one room to another, but neglected to adjust the computer to match. Something else was odd about those dirty rooms; the ones generating the complaints were all in one area, very near the central stairs, an area largely not screened by our security cameras. Curiouser and curiouser.

The situation had been going on for about two weeks when a housekeeper returned to a freshly cleaned room one afternoon to discover that it had already been sullied! The day girl, A, kept a vigilant eye out, and sure enough, saw a girl who had been a regular until the incidents walking through the parking lot. When A asked what she was doing on the property, the girl responded, “Oh, I’m staying here,” and kept going. A car followed, parking off camera behind the stairs, a man got out, and the two disappeared. Six minutes later (I kid you not), the two reappeared. By then, A had gotten a hold of our boss, M, and as the culprits tried to leave, he ran after them, shouting. The man took off for his car and drove out like he was on fire. M grabbed the girl, demanded compensation for the room, and once he had it, threw her off the property, promptly adding her to our DNR (Do Not Rent list).

Once that had gone down, it was easy enough to go back through the security footage and see that the girl—a known prostitute—had been doing the same thing nearly every day for two weeks: walking onto the property where she was familiar as a guest, followed by a john who would park, then surreptitiously follow her to one of the earmarked rooms. The shortest incident we caught on tape was four minutes; the longest was twelve. Since the housekeepers leave the doors of vacant rooms open until they are finished with a section, once the hooker figured out which rooms were off camera, she had herself a nice little scam.

It’s a bad old world.

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