I’ve spent much of my adult life in hotel rooms. Whether it’s a creaky motel on the plains of Midland-Odessa, Texas, or a luxury high-rise in the heart of Paris, a private hotel room is one of the perquisites of flight attendant life during layovers.
Throughout my 33-year career as a flight attendant, I’ve logged more than 3,500 nights in perhaps 3,000 hotel rooms. That’s nearly 10 years of wake-up calls and mini bars.
I’ve had a few interesting experiences.
There was the time I arrived at a layover hotel, opened the door and stepped carefully inside the darkened room. After parking my roll-aboard and reaching to open the curtains, I heard a noise. I turned toward the sound and saw, buried beneath the blanket, a woman asleep in the bed.
Panicked, I covered my mouth with one hand and stood perfectly still. I could hear the woman breathing as she stirred in her sleep.
I backed out of the room, ninja-like, before she woke up.
On another occasion, I opened the door to what was supposed to be my room and saw a naked man and woman, er, expressing their affection for each other. The amorous couple abruptly stopped and stared at me. I stared at them. No one spoke. I walked out.
More than once, in a some thin-walled hotel room or another, I’ve heard a woman’s passionate “Yes, yes, yes!” or “¡Sí, sí, sí!” or “Oui, oui, oui!” that was so loud I had to change rooms in the middle of the night.
But such phenomena are to be expected when you’ve spent the equivalent of a decade in a hotel room. What’s not so common are tales from some of my colleagues.
Naked and half asleep, one captain crawled out of bed and opened what he thought was the bathroom door. When the door slammed behind him, he realized he was in the hallway on the 21st floor of the hotel. Unable to open the locked door, he ran — clad in his birthday suit — down the hallway to the stairway and then down 21 flights.
When he reached the lobby, he had to work hard to persuade hotel security not to call the police.
Some years ago in Caracas, Venezuela, a male flight attendant stumbled back to his room after a night of hard drinking. That layover hotel consisted of two identical towers, and the flight attendant entered the wrong one. He took the elevator to the appropriate floor, then somehow entered what he thought was his room and threw himself into bed.
Unfortunately, the bed was occupied by a teenage girl whose screams alerted her father in the adjoining room, who charged in to save his daughter. The male flight attendant did not fare well.
A new-hire flight attendant was so excited about her first trip to Rio de Janeiro that she arrived at the hotel, flung open the door to her room and rushed out to the balcony as if in an Audrey Hepburn dream.
Delighted by the aerial view of Leblon and Ipanema beaches, she reached for her smartphone to record a panoramic video.
But by stepping outside and shutting the sliding glass doors behind her, she had inadvertently jiggled the latch, locking the two sliding doors. She wriggled the handle, but the doors would not budge. She had locked herself out on the balcony.
For the next half an hour she yelled for help. When her cries went unanswered, she sank to the concrete floor, cursing a view that had suddenly turned dark and sinister.
Worried that she would be stuck on the balcony until the maid came two days later when the crew was scheduled to depart or, worse, that she could be fired for missing the return flight, she sat on the balcony floor and cried.
Then she remembered her smartphone.
She wanted to call the front desk but didn’t know the hotel’s telephone number, so she did the next best thing. She called her mom, who was 5,000 miles away.
Mom sprang into action. She surfed the Internet, found the phone number for the hotel and called the front desk to report her daughter’s predicament.
Within minutes hotel security personnel were inside her room. The two men flipped the latch on the sliding balcony doors and released the woman from captivity.