Partying in the penthouse – the Canadians

A story of hubris, humility, and betrayal

In 2010 the economy was starting to turn around and occupancy at the old luxury boutique hotel was finally on the rise. In 2008 the ornate, stylish front desk was shuttered and I was promoted to Personal Concierge Supervisor, a glorified title that meant “this guy does it all.” Check you in, park your car, take your bags up, book your dinner reservation, bring you extra towels, fix your TV, relight the boiler when your hot water didn’t work. Did I mention this was a 100+ year old hotel? I did often have a helper for a good portion of the shift, at least until 7 or so, parking cars and taking bags while I did most of the check ins.

I won’t list all the responsibilities I held down during this time (I don’t skimp in my resume on LinkedIn), suffice to say I ran the joint at night. These days, being a 30-year old performing musician and making decent money through a scary economic downturn, I felt somewhat on top of the world.

This particular let’s call it a Tuesday evening in September had a good vibe. My old high school friends who were now dating were in town to catch a rock show so I put them up at the hotel for the employee rate and, of course, upgraded them to the nicest corner suite for free. The one in which Meg Ryan stays in Sleepless in Seattle. She’s a bitch by the way, another story for another chapter. 

Early in my shift I was surprised by the arrival of two attractive, flirty Canadian girls. Trouble from the beginning. They were friendly, smiley, and of course also immediately got a free upgrade to the second nicest corner suite, just below my friends. I never gleaned their business in town, but it was apparent they were ready to party. After they saw their room they came back down and gushed thank yous and it’s so nice. This is when they spotted my friend working the swing shift with me and something new glistened in their eyes. Hey, do you guys want to get a drink later? Sure, we get done at 11. What the heck. I can’t say I wasn’t imagining what the night could bring.

11 o’clock rolls around and the four of us head across the street to the bar where we all go when we go out after work. The kitchen joins us, some servers from the hotel restaurant. We start out slow and soon enough it’s getting near closing time. My friends join us after their rock show. The bartender is close to all of us hotel folk and no stranger to partying himself. He picks up on the festive mood, comps a few drinks all around, and nobody wants the night to end.

I have a very bright idea enter my brain at this time. I never second guess it. So obvious. Why don’t we go back to the hotel? It’s only half full. We’ll head up to the penthouse and have the entire floor to ourselves. Shit, half the guests are over here with us. Nobody’s going to complain. The bartender grabs two fifths of Jameson, I stop by my truck and grab some potskies. 15 of us march through the lobby and take the single, slow elevator up to the top, 5 at a time. The night clerk is in the back office doing the audit. To this day I’m not sure if she knew we came in until later.

The penthouse party is glorious. We’re respectful-drunk. I show the Canadians the grand piano and play Right Now by Van Halen or was it the theme from Doogie Howser? They stay near my coworker whenever possible. Some of the kitchen guys have noticed the guests partying with us and are chatting them up too. Out on the balcony we pass around the Jameson and a joint, as service industry folks do. I’m laughing with my old high school friends at their comment that this is the most badass night ever. This wasn’t the first time we’ve used the penthouse this late, but I don’t disagree. This is the largest group I’ve ever had up here.

Now the Canadians are back inside the fancy penthouse sitting room (they don’t smoke weed – I thought all Canadians did) showing other hotel and bar people the grand piano. Making quite the racket. My high school buddy goes in there to show off some piano skills for them. It is at this time apparently, so I later hear, that some guests come out of their room 10 feet away from the penthouse door. What is going on? It’s our wedding night. We’re trying to sleep.

We’re with employees my high school buddy drunkenly retorts, unwittingly sealing my fate. 

The night bellman visits the penthouse, finds me, and lets me know they called down to complain. I reassure him he doesn’t need to lie or cover for me, and agree to disperse.

A few folks in our soiree leave directly. But as you might expect from a group of drunk 20-somethings, some of us refuse to let the night end. The Canadians invited myself, my coworker buddy, and a kitchen guy to their room. Hot dawg.

I don’t know what I expected to happen, but it wasn’t one guy going into the bedroom of the suite with both girls. The other guy and I chilling in the sitting room look at each other, shrug, and get up to leave. Elevator to the basement where we grab a black tablecloth left on the banquet furniture stacked along the hallway, holding it over our heads to obscure our identities from the lone security camera above the backdoor. I give him a ride home to lower Queen Anne.

A few days go by with no fallout. Everyone knows what happened. Only a few know who exactly was there disrupting guest stays and nobody is telling. Fortunately I learned later the few security cameras we had weren’t recording. The night crew either hasn’t been questioned or is covering for us, as those badasses would.

Turns out the newlywed couple was booked by a wedding coordinator who is best friends with the hotel owner’s wife, our acting GM. Heads need to roll, she declares. Two weeks go by. Still nobody tells. Thick as thieves, we had a good crew.

One weekend afternoon I got a call from a friend who was the Chef du Cuisine. He is confessing. He slept with the director of Sales and let slip our guest list on the fateful evening during pillow talk. He apologizes. I know I’m cooked. It’s alright, man. Time to face the music.

Owner’s wife steps down as GM and they hire a well known local hotelier. On his second day I’m called into his office at the beginning of my shift. The head of HR is there. She used to be my neighbor in West Seattle. When my dogs would get out they’d run over to her house. I return her grim smile. The new GM looks more serious. 

You’ve been implicated by someone who also implicated themself. We can’t fire you all, but we need to make an example to show that this behavior is unacceptable. As the Manager on Duty that evening, you should have known better. 

I signed a notice of discharge for gross misconduct. And that is how my 6 year run at the oldest hotel in Seattle came to a close. It was a wonderful experience, rich with memories. I grew so much. I started as a very green 24 year-old town car driver. I’ll never forget walking through those ornate front doors, being held by my soon-to-be mentors, for my interview…

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