A few weeks ago we were in Oklahoma for my grandfather’s funeral.  On Sunday evening, we went out to dinner the night before the funeral.  My mom, dad, sister, and Joel were with me.  One of the topics that came up was the hotel we were staying in.  Apparently my mom had stayed there the year before when she was visiting.  She stated how much she liked the hotel, how it was really nice with the business center, their cozy feeling, their nice breakfast; she even commented on how the staff was still the same.  We all piped up and talked about the man that had been working there the last few nights, and my mom nodded and said she remembered him from the previous year.  I think the man stood out to us because he was distinctive in that he was a little pale, brown hair, average height, but was very nervous acting – kind of nervous mannerisms – and didn’t make much eye contact.  I remember thinking to myself that I felt a little sorry for the guy; he seemed like a little bit of a loner.  

That evening, we had all retired to our separate rooms on the second floor.  Joel and I fell asleep in our room, my mom and dad fell asleep in their room.  My sister was in her own room but she is a bit of a night owl.  Around 12:30 a.m., her room phone rang.  This is a paraphrase of the phone call.

Sister:  “Hello?”

Male:  “Hi, this is ____ from the front desk.  We’ve had some complaints from other guests about some noises.  Are you watching porn?”

Sister:  “Porn?  No.  I have a movie on, but it is on really low.”

Male:  “Are you sure?  It sounds like there was someone being held up against a wall, and some bangs…”

Sister:  “No.  I just came out of the shower, and like I said, I had a movie on, but it is on really low.”

Male:  “What movie are you watching?  Is it porn?”

Sister:  “No, the Dark Knight.”

Male:  “Is that a porno?”

Sister:  “Nooo…it’s a Batman movie.”

Male:  “Well, I tell you what.  I get off in 5 minutes.  Why don’t I bring up some champagne and watch it with you?”

Sister:  “Sir, is that a joke?”

Male:  “No, I’m serious.   Why don’t I come up right now?”

Sister:  “Sir, that’s inappropriate.”

Male:   “No, it’s completely appropriate.  I’ve been watching you come in and out of the hotel for the past few days and I think you are smokin’ hot.  So you said you just came out of the shower?”

The male voice continued to talk to my sister even though she had gone silent.  He continued to ask her very inappropriate questions, of which I will not repeat.  He was absolutely filthy and very disturbing.  She hung up, and immediately called my dad on his cell phone.  My father immediately came down to her room, and listened to her story.  He brought her back to my parents’ room, and called down to the front desk.  He asked for confirmation on his wake-up call, and let my sister listen to the desk clerk’s voice.  My sister immediately nodded within hearing a few words of the desk clerk’s voice.  My dad said, “Thank you,” and hung up.  He then used his cell phone to call the police.     

A very long story short, the police couldn’t do anything because they weren’t able to determine if it was an internal call (which is what my sister maintains) instead of an outside call (which is what the front desk clerk maintains).  The front desk clerk, when confronted by the police, swore up and down that he had not made the call; he seemed extraordinarily nervous and agitated.  By this time, it was 2:00 a.m. and the hotel manager did not see a reason to replace the front desk clerk with someone else.  We packed up and moved to a different hotel at 2:30 a.m.  I laid awake until 4:30 a.m., too on edge to find comfort in sleep.  I was so angry towards the desk clerk, sympathetic towards my sister, understanding of my parents’ reactions, and professionally curious.  The manager sided with the employee, compensated my father for the rooms, and stated they were complying with the police.  But with a phone system that is untraceable, there’s no proof.  The desk clerk still has his job.

As a person who travels often, and stays in hotels just as often, this was a scary occurrence.  It’s always important to protect your room identity (for instance, when checking in if a clerk announces your room aloud, pass your keys back and ask for a different room and have them write the room number down on your keys in case someone heard them), and be aware of your surroundings, but if the front desk staff are the people you are normally supposed to trust, what do you do if the hotel staff is the one to blame?  I thought my father’s method of confirming the voice and then calling the police on his cell was very reasonable and smart.  Let this be a warning to all of you who travel alone or with your families:  be aware of your safety at all times.  This may have been the first time that a police report was filed against this person, but it may not have been the first time he committed the act.  It may not be the last, either.  

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