A writer recounts his most peculiar experiences working in the hospitality industry.
Debut author Wallen got a job at a hotel in his early 20s—he needed the money and still considered himself a lover of people. But after years of service, he found his youthful optimism transforming into a “deep seeded misanthropy,” the result of so many encounters with customers who ranged from narcissistically insufferable to outright insane. Most of the stories revolve around hotel guests suffering from a morally significant lack of self-awareness. In one tale, the author remembers that a customer, enraged over the best room rate Wallen could cite, repeatedly screamed: “Ridiculous! Give me a lower rate! Now!” The man only left when threatened with bear mace. Another guest, when he discovered his room wasn’t stocked with as much coffee and shampoo as he would have liked, shrieked: “I am not a commoner!” Other customers transcended eccentricity and flirted with behavior more pathological. A woman dishonestly claimed she was promised a free room, and when denied her demand, angrily asserted: “Excuse me! I went to medical school! I am a doctor! I save lives!” Wallen called the board of health—she encouraged him to—and she was not, in fact, a physician. The stories the author relates cover the spectrum from the predictable (guests having sex in the hot tub) to the dangerous (a man discharging his gun while cleaning it in his room). Wallen writes in a mockingly informal tone, generously sprinkling his prose with expletives and consistently delivering winning punchlines. Each of the tales can be read on its own, which makes the book a breezy experience, but also means one never gets to see the author’s perspective develop—he begins with a heavy dose of cynicism. Still, one can’t help but admire the inventively mischievous ways he handled the most egregiously obnoxious guests; he even convinced a customer lodging a complaint against a co-worker that she died years ago.
A quirkily humorous assemblage of remembrances conveyed zestfully.