*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
Working as a hotel housekeeper is a dirty job. I should know; I did it for years.
There wasn't anything I liked about the job except perhaps taking home the near-full bottles of shampoo and conditioner the guests often left behind when they checked out.
As much as I hated scrubbing toilets and changing bedsheets and vacuuming, oh, how I hated vacuuming, there was one thing I hated most of all: walking into a room after checkout time to find the hotel guest still in the room, fast asleep.
I always knocked on the door first. It didn't always help.
Late one morning, I knocked on the door of a hotel room that should have been vacated an hour earlier. There was no answer. I burst into the room and began stripping the bed.
I turned around with my arms filled with bedding and noticed a man slumped in the recliner by the window. I suppressed a scream and scurried out of the room.
Should I call an ambulance? I wondered as I rushed to find one of my coworkers to help me. I clutched my phone and tried to decide what to do. Fortunately, I located one of my fellow workers, a lovely man who worked at the hotel as a janitor part-time.
I told the janitor there was a man in the room and from the way he was slumped over the recliner with a beam of bright sunlight shining on his face, I thought he was dead. The janitor agreed to return to the room with me.
He knocked on the door and called out before entering; I'd done the same earlier, and it hadn't stirred the motionless man.
We walked right up to the man, examined him, and watched to see if his chest was rising and falling. We tried talking to him, asking, "Hello? Hello?" because we didn't know what else to say. Then we decided he was dead.
We left the room and fetched the manager. With the manager in the lead, we entered the room again.
The motionless man didn't respond to our knocking, but he did respond to a gentle shake and a loud, "Hey, Buddy, are you okay?" right into his left ear.
As it turned out, he was okay. We were all so relieved.
The man was very gracious about having a trio of hotel employees standing over him in his hotel room and looking at him with owl-open eyes. "I overslept," he told us simply. "Could you give me another hour?"
Finding a dead hotel guest isn't exactly uncommon in the hospitality industry. So it was a happy ending to what could have been a very bad day. We gave him another hour to checkout. When I knocked on the door and entered an hour later, it was empty. Crisis averted.
He even left me a tip.
What would you have done? Comments are welcome.
Why would you want to Buy Me a Coffee? I am a full-time writer and a full-time unpaid caregiver to my 82-year-old father, who lives with Parkinson's. Your tip or donation allows me to provide for his care and comfort around the clock while working from home. Thank you.
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