One year of my life was dedicated to working at a quaint resort settled in the middle of Sequoia National Park, more than 7000 feet in the air. I worked as a front desk clerk, so naturally I met many people, some who I don’t remember at all, to some that still stand out in my memory today. Most of the people I will never remember were great customers who followed the rules, called to ask last-minute questions before leaving for their trip, and left a hefty tip before checking out. However, the ones I will always remember were the ones that left me rolling my eyes (behind their backs), questioning my loyalty to the resort, and begging to be killed on the spot.
These terrible guests were all the same, for the most part. They all exhibited the same behaviors and they were easily recognized as soon as they walked through the doors of the lodge. They left myself and my coworkers snickering and gossiping after they walked away from us and, once in a while, have made me cry (it was more like tearing up, but I would never have admitted it). They definitely make you work for your money (though your paychecks would be short because these kinds of guests don’t tip) and at the end of the day, sometimes a paycheck just wasn’t worth it. I felt I deserved a million dollar paycheck after having to deal with some of the people I met.
Here are just a few examples of the kinds of people that filter in through the doors of a mountain-top lodge that, even after all this time, I still laugh about when I think of them.
1. The Early Check-In
This type of guest will usually arrive three to four hours before check-in time and will try to scam a free lunch out of you while the buffet is out (they’ll try and plate some food while you aren’t looking, but they don’t realize working as a front desk clerk has given you eyes in the back of your head). They demand to be let into their room, not understanding why it isn’t ready, even though you explained to them ten times that housekeeping is very busy that day and it will likely be a few hours before the room is ready (if they’re nice and understanding, housekeeping will be told to do their room immediately – but those that complain get to wait a few hours because that’s really the only control we as front desk clerks have). Despite the large amount of attractions nearby to waste time, these guests will insist on skulking around the lodge, hoping their dissatisfaction will make their room be cleaned quicker. When their stay comes to an end and they check out, you can expect a rude TripAdvisor review within the next few days.
2. The Late Check-Out
After being told repeatedly that check out is at eleven in the morning, they’ll hang out until you have to go find a manager to bang on their door and tell them check out was three hours ago. Beware – they’ll try to get a free lunch, just like early check in, and they’ll usually succeed simply because that’s the only way to get them out of their room.
3. The Strange Couple
These guests will have you and your coworkers playing guessing games for hours. Couple or father-daughter duo? Usually, they consist of an older man (presumably rich, as he’s got nothing going for him as far as looks) and a younger, slightly attractive woman. If you’re lucky enough to spot the “stranger couple,” they’ll even have a few kids around, though you’re left wondering if they’re from a previous marriage because there’s no way that guy could get it up. Be careful around the women – they’re normally very spoiled and materialistic and will find faults in everything they don’t find up to their extremely high standards and will often complain of the lack of vegetarian or healthy options in the dinner buffet.
4. The Creep
As a young girl working the front desk, I have been hit on more times than I can count. Half the time I’ve just laughed it off and carried on with my day, flattered that someone took the time just to compliment me. The other half of the flatterers left me afraid and hiding behind my larger counterpart at the front desk while he took care of those guests for me. The Creeps will usually hang out at the bar while you’re working, constantly ordering more drinks so you can’t leave. Once they have you trapped, they’ll ask questions about your life, offer to buy you drinks when you’re off, and they’ll occasionally give you the unwelcome touch, whether it be on your shoulder or your ass. These guests are 75% middle-aged men going through a crisis or divorce, but the other 25% are actually high school boys who think they’ll actually succeed in getting laid by an employee at a resort. Trust me, boys, the only reason I talked to you was because I was getting paid.
5. The Drunk
During dinner service, these guests will have you wasting time running back and forth to the bar. You’ll end up learning how to make drinks you never knew existed and it will probably take you several tries before you actually make it right. Maybe pour more than a shot into the drink and they’ll get drunker quicker so they can leave you alone. They’ll usually charge their drinks to their room, but will forget their room number, so the next morning during check-out, a random guest has bar charges that they never ordered and you’re ready to kill a man. You’ll swear to never work the bar again, but that night, you’ll have another vulture circling you, waiting for their Bloody Mary to be made.
6. The Late Night Prowler
This guest will watch you close down the gift shop, soda machines, and cash register before asking to buy something. If you’re feeling generous, you might reopen the gift shop and just make a charge to their account (though the computers are shut down, so you’ll write it on a post-it note, which the morning worker will hate you for forever). If it’s a minute to your clock out time, you’ll tell them “No,” even though the owners would fire you on the spot for denying a guest’s request, but you’ll take pleasure in watching them stomp around and mutter under their breath because they couldn’t get a Coke from the locked fridge when there’s a running vending machine right around the corner. These guests will add this experience in their TripAdvisor review, as well, and the front desk clerks will all laugh at them.
7. The “Can I Speak To A Manager”
Everyone’s favorite guests. These people can be found nearly anywhere across the globe, but like to show up at resorts. There is no stereotypical look for these guests – they range from foreign young adults, to middle aged women with a bob and designer sunglasses, and even to older men who feel entitled to overrule a 19-year-old front desk clerk. Normally, it will take you about five to ten minutes to actually track down a manager (because news flash – managers have things to do, too) and when you return, the guest will be angrier because you took so long and all three phones will be ringing. Your heart will break when the manager refunds them or gives them something for free because they really just deserve a punch in the face. But there are those rare moments when you get to answer the golden sentence that everyone loves to say with a twisted smile, “I am the manager.” And also the even rarer moments – when the guest doesn’t believe what you have to say and when the manager comes out to speak to them, they say the same thing you did. Satan reserves a special room for these guests.
8. The Veterans
This family returns to the resort every year because they love it so much. Usually, they’ll spend their time at the front desk raving about how things are always so great and how their kids love it to death and they’ll list off the name of past counselors and workers that you don’t even know because you haven’t been working there for that long. Instead of tipping into the pooled tip jar, these guests will give large cash tips to their favorite workers (and it won’t be you) which breaks your heart even more. Do they even know how hard it is to listen to their constant ramblings? Do they even know how hard it is to deal with them? They’ll let their kids run amok, making messes that you’ll have to clean up. But you won’t get to clean them up. Because they’ll talk your ear off. And you won’t be able to leave.
9. The Foreigners
These guests are the equivalent of Hell. You’ll try to check them in, but will never be able to find them by last name because you couldn’t understand them over the phone, so you bullshitted the last name. Now you’re panicking. Then, when you give the speech explaining the rules and times and the whole drill, they’ll look at you with puppy dog eyes because they have no clue what you’re saying. Hispanics will ask you to talk slower, Asians will just nod and agree (you know they’re not really listening because they’re having their own conversation with each other while you’re talking), and at least 10% of foreigners don’t speak any English, so you’ll have to use Google Translate to type in the intro paper you give them so they understand. And if you’re a slow typer, you might as well just give them the room key because you’ll never get through that. These guests will break rules often, but it becomes so exhausting to keep repeating yourself that you just give up and clean up after them.
10. The “I Need To Change Rooms”
These guests will complain about a small amount of dust in their rooms (that they tracked in themselves after walking through dirt to get to their rooms) or a mouse that ran across the threshold (HELLO! You’re in a forest!). They’ll demand to be upgraded and you’ll have to, even though you don’t want to. In the notes, you’ll mark this down so everyone knows how annoying they were to you. These guests will end up getting a luxury cabin because they came to the mountains expecting a Hilton Hotel instead of a campground with lodge rooms and cabins. Normally, these people are from the Bay area and live in $500,000 houses. You’ll hate them even more after seeing them pay cash for their room, but during their check out, they won’t pull out that fifty dollar bill to throw in the tip jar. It’s a 50/50 chance on whether they’ll come back, but even if they don’t, expect a TripAdvisor review about how wonderful their luxury cabin was and how others shouldn’t book any other rooms because they’re dirty and rustic.
11. The Ignoramuses
These guests probably grew up never doing anything for themselves. They’ll call you in at midnight when you’re trying to sleep because they don’t know how to turn the heat on. They complain about the bear they saw while on a hike (like you’re actually gonna go scare it away for them? Like you’re going to risk your own precious life for theirs?). Instead of reading the printed menu, they’ll just ask you what every food is on the buffet line and they won’t notice the vein popping in your neck when you’re trying to resist strangling them while you’re reciting the menu for the twentieth time. You’ll catch them trying to walk right into your room because they got lost trying to find theirs. And expect to meet them at the smoking area because apparently, they think they’re one of the employees, but they’re nice about it and will try to make small talk while you’re just trying to smoke three cigarettes on your ten minute break, so you don’t have time for small talk (by the way, they’ll see right through your fake smile). You’ll break your back for these guests and when you check their wonderful TripAdvisor review, they won’t even have the audacity to mention your name, so you have to announce to everyone all the work you did for them so you don’t feel as inadequate standing next to those that were actually mentioned in the review.
12. The Easy Guests
You’re not sure these even exist, since they only seem to arrive on your days off. They may be a myth. But they do leave decent reviews complimenting your coworkers and how wonderful of a job they did during check-in. Be prepared to have to listen to said coworker brag about their latest name-dropping review because it will happen and you’ll be left wishing and waiting for the day when you find your name on TripAdvisor (Word from the wise: just give up on your dream now or you’ll be insecure the rest of your life).