When I’m at work, there are things I will put-off until later; things like, taking out any extra garbage that piles up during the night, and general picking up after people when they leave the lobby and dining room. Typically I wait until it is time to run the end of the day program, and that is usually around three in the morning. On this particular night, there was a single pizza box, sitting on top of the lid to one of the garbage cans in the dining room. I never checked it; I decided to worry about it at three o’clock. It sat there all night. I glanced at it every now and then, but I resisted the urge to pick it up.
It was a sold-out night, so I was feeling more relaxed than most nights. The lobby was quiet, and there was only one arrival left. Since it was after six o’clock, and the 2nd shift desk attendant didn’t take the deposit for the last arrival, I had to. No big deal. I ran the card, and… uh oh… the card declined. A declined card is a problem when the hotel is sold out. Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal to cancel the reservation, but on a sold out night, no hotel wants to have to do that. There was always the chance the person would arrive with a different card, but most often, they don’t, and that would mean I would have no choice to cancel the reservation before starting the end of day procedures. That would also mean we wouldn’t be sold out. I called the number that was on the reservation, but nobody answered, and the voicemail was full, so I wasn’t able to leave a message.
My phone rang; it was room 226. “Listen, I have another room reserved for someone who was supposed to join me, but his flight won’t get here until the morning, and that’s when we’re supposed to leave for Poughkeepsie. I need you to cancel that room.” He said.
“I’m sorry, sir, but the cut off time to cancel a reservation is six o’clock. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to cancel that reservation.” I was looking at the list of guests in-house, and I saw the two rooms he was renting were already checked-in. “It looks like your company already checked-in.” I said.
“No, he isn’t here yet. I checked-in the room when I arrived, earlier. I just need you to cancel it. Nobody’s actually touched the room yet.” He said. I can understand that he didn’t want to pay for a room that was going to stay empty, but the hotel was completely booked, and we won’t cancel reservations after six o’clock on sold-out nights. Tough luck, guy.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t anything I can do about that, but I see here you are a rewards member, so what I’m going to do is, I’m going to give you an extra five thousand bonus points. I’m sorry that I am unable to cancel the reservation for you.” I said.
“I’m going want to talk to your manager about this, tomorrow.” He said. It was supposed to sound threatening.
“You are welcome to speak to the manager if you wish. I am sorry, there is nothing I can do about that reservation.” I said. The man in 226 decided to hang-up. Rude!
I spent an hour trying to catch-up on some reports. Room 226 called again. “It turns out I still need the room.” He said.
“That’s wonderful. Does that mean you don’t want the extra points?”
“Well, I was still expecting the points.”
“Yeah, I figured you would. Is your company arriving tonight, after-all?”
“Great, then I guess you can sleep well, knowing that you’re not spending money on an empty room.” I said. He didn’t reply. I heard him hang up the phone. Rude! That’s when the doors opened. A man, looking tired, walked in.
“There should be a room being for me here.” He said. I took his driver’s license and confirmed that he was the person that my guest in 226 was talking about. I got him on his way, and went back to drinking coffee, and emailing my last report.
A man walked in and asked me if I had a room. Usually, I would say no, but I thought about the declined credit card attached to my final arrival, then I thought about how important it was to sell out the hotel. “Let me see what I have.” I said. Since it was after six o’clock and my last arrival had a declined credit card, the hotel had no obligation to hold the room for him. I went ahead and canceled the reservation. “You’re in luck. I have a two queen suite available. It’s my only available room.”
“I’m so happy to hear this. We have been stopping all over the area, and nobody has anything.” He said.
“Yep! Everyone in the county is sold out tonight.” I said. His wife and two kids walked inside. All of them looked completely exhausted. They had a son and daughter, and they looked like they were 6 and 9 years old; the older one is the son. Their daughter took a seat on the couch in the lobby, and their son disappeared into the dining room; nobody was paying attention to him. I had the reservation completed, and I asked for his credit card. That’s when the operating system crashed, and everything froze-up on me. “I’m sorry for this delay, but my computer had a hiccup, and I need to restart. It will only take a moment.” The mother looked at me with sleepy eyes.
“But you do have a room for us?” She asked.
“Absolutely.” I said. It took five minutes to reopen the reservation, but to that family, it probably seemed like an eternity. The mother sat next to her daughter, and the father leaned on the counter. I was able to run the credit card; it declined. “This card is declined. Do you have another one to use?”
“Shit!” Said the dad.
“William!” Scolded the mom.
“I mean, darn-it!” He said and reached in his wallet for another card. While I was sliding the new card in the reader, I started to smell pizza. I thought it was odd to smell pizza because it smelled like fresh, hot, pizza. I set that thought aside for a moment and finished the check-in.
“All you have to do is fill out the paper where I have it highlighted, and you can be on your way.” I said. While he was signing the paper. I heard the lobby microwave beep, and their son walked back into the lobby with a plate and a slice of reheated pizza.
“Where the heck did you find pizza?” Asked his mother, who was shocked to see her son eating a slice of mystery food. Her son pointed towards the garbage can and spoke with a full mouth.
“There’s a whole pizza over there.” He said, like it was nothing, and continued stuffing his face.
“I want pizza too.” said his sister. Both parents looked at each other, seeming unsure of what to think.
“How long has that been sitting there?” Asked the mother.
“I’m pretty sure it has been there for a few hours. I think it’s someones leftovers from dinner, earlier tonight.” The mother walked to the pizza box and opened it. She sniffed inside the box and grabbed a slice.
“Actually, I think this pizza is still good. Who would throw away a whole pizza?” She said, and she walked back to the lobby with the box. Who wants a late night snack?” She asked.
“Me!” Said their daughter.
“What the hell.. why not?” Said the father.
“Okay….” I said. The father smiled at me and thanked me for all the help. He took his family, and the old, cold, garbage pizza, up to their room. I shrugged it off. That was far from the craziest thing I’ve experienced. The hotel was sold-out again, and I didn’t have to clean up the pizza. We were all winners.
Since every room was checked-in, I did the end of day routine and turned on Netflix. There was nothing else to do. While I was enjoying Voltron, a man walked in. “Sorry, I’m late. I’m here to check-in.” Awkward….
“I am sorry, sir, but the credit card you used to hold the room with declined. We can only hold a room if the card doesn’t decline, and unfortunately, yours declined, and you never canceled before six o’ clock. I tried calling you. I’m afraid we were unable to hold the room for you.”
“What do you mean?” He asked. I could feel his anger brewing.
“The card that you held the room with declined, and we were unable to hold the room. I attempted to call you, but you never answered, and your voicemail is full. I was unable to leave you a message. I’m sorry, but I had to….”
“This is bullshit!”
“Unfortunately, if your card declines, we cannot guarantee your room will be available. Like I said, I attempted to contact you. But you didn’t…”
“You never called me!”
“I certainly did. I think the hotel across the street still has availability. You can check over with them if you want, but I was unable to hold your room, and it’s been sold. Sorry, but we are sold out.” I said.
“You sold my room?” He asked.
“No, your card declined, and I was no longer able to hold the room, so I had to cancel it. If a guest hasn’t arrived by six o’clock, and their card declines, we can’t guarantee the room any longer. I tried contacting you. Had you answered my call I could have confirmed your arrival time, and you could have given me another card to hold the room with. Unfortunately, you never responded to my call, and I had no choice but to cancel it before I had to run the audit. Someone else needed a room, and they arrived just before the audit. I had no choice. I had to cancel your reservation. Selling the room was entirely legitimate. I am sorry that this happened, but I cannot help you now.”
“You piece of garbage!”
“I don’t blame you for being mad. This is inconvenient for you, but this is how hotels work. We only guarantee a room if the card doesn’t decline. I’m sorry, but yours declined. It sucks, but it happens. It happened that a family needed a room, and you never responded to my call. I had to sell the room. Now we are sold-out. I’m sorry. I’m sure the hotel across the street can accommodate you. I will even call them for you.”
“You’re going to pay for it too!” He proclaimed.
“No, sorry, we won’t pay for it.” I informed him.
“Sir, we fulfilled our agreement to hold the room for you until six o’ clock. After then, if your card declines, then we are no longer obligated to keep your reservation. I did call you. You didn’t answer. It is your responsibility to make sure we have a valid card on file. Your card declined. You can call me names all you want, but you will have to do it while you walk out the door. I cannot do anything for you. You are responsible for paying for your own room. Hopefully you have a reliable card on you; otherwise, you are going to have a difficult time going to bed tonight.” If this were a cartoon, there would be hot steam whistling from his ears.
“I’m taking this above you.” He said.
“Okay, feel free. It’s just too bad… there was a guy who wanted to cancel his room, and I said no. He ended up needing it in the long run but had he actually needed to cancel, I would have just given the room to you… Darn! You have a good night.” The man marched out the door. I heard his tires screeching as he drove away.
I went back to watching Voltron.