Housekeeping is a tough job, no doubt about it, but we never imagined all the dangers of the profession. Of course, maids deal with a lot of chemicals, lift heavy objects and work under a lot of pressure, but our cliché minds tends to associate dangerous jobs with firefighters, policemen, jail guards and soldiers.
Well, this was before an Italian newspaper published an article about a maid that accidentally shot a colleague in the stomach while playing with .22 handgun that had been lost by a guest.
So, next time we will think about badass professions, we’ll have to include this mexican-stand-off maid story as well.
After reading the article and contacting the hotel to check the veracity of the story, our minds started to race with a series of questions that should probably remain unanswered forever, the most important one being: who would forget a loaded gun in a hotel room after checking out?
Unless it is some Quentin Tarantino character having a couple of drinks at the lobby bar before killing Bill or rebelling to slavery, chances are quite low.
So we contacted a few friends that work in hospitality asking if they ever found any bizarre item guests left behind. We literally received hundreds of answers, so we compiled our personal top ten list.
But we'll warn you - you'll need a certain degree of stomach and humor to get through this article.
Position 10: Sex Toys
Virtually all the maids we interviewed revealed that, if the hotel they work for goes out of business, they have a plan B. With the amount of handcuffs, blow up dolls and latex masks guests leave behind on a daily basis, virtually any hotel could pivot to a overnight, especially because a very small percentage of these fifty-shades-of-grey-wannabes return to retrieve their pleasure tools...
Position 9: False teeth
Going around with your gums exposed (and nothing else) seems to be a thing now, judging by the number of dentures left behind by guests. A housekeeper for one of the biggest branded hotels in the world, told us that they have a dozen of them, especially from early checkouters that skip breakfasts. Makes sense, as a set of teeth can come in hand when you chew and it’s hardest to forget it when you’re having your third breakfast roll.
Position 8: A leg
Teresa works for an independent hotel and she told us that once, while cleaning, she caught a glimpse of a human leg behind a curtain. She was so scared that someone was hiding to attack her that she ran away from the room. Turned out that it was “just” a prosthetic leg, with knee, foot and all. We asked her if the hotel she works for is located on some pilgrimage destination, because a limb is something guests tend not to leave behind when they check out, so maybe she witnessed a miracle. If you’re asking, it is not.
Position 7: An eyeball
Very similar to number eight but even creepier. Remember that Edgar Allan Poe’s tale, “The tell-tale heart”? Well, nobody likes to be stalked by a disturbing glass eye, especially if there’s not a body around it. Worst part of the story is that the “bulbus oculi” was never retrieved. Thank you Katia for the nightmares!
Position 6: Jewellery
Ear-rings or a pin aren't what we're referring to here. Someone left behind a diamond necklace worth several thousands of dollars. The maid figured it wasn't hers to keep so she turned it in. The problem was, if it had been there for a while under the bed, then whose it is? Sometimes she wished she hadn't turned it in. It was still in the hotel safe a year later and nobody claimed it...
Position 5: Money
The maid who told us this story wanted to stay anonymous (understandably, I would add). She confided that a few years ago, she found 40.000 USD in cash in a room. And we’re not talking about The Burj Al Arab, but a simple three star hotel so it’s unlikely that she was overtipped. Unsure about what to do with that kind of money she went straight to the hotel GM.
No further info about what happened to that money has been provided.
Position 4: VIP memorabilia
A few years ago an Elvis Presley' sweat-stained suit was sold for 200.000 $, so VIP memorabilia is definitely something very precious and valuable among collectors. A couple of maids confided to us that, if a celebrity leaves something behind and the legal time to retrieve it has passed (could be 3-6 months or more, according to country regulations), then it goes straight to eBay. The money made out of the sale is then shared with all the hotel employees. A funny way to get some extra cash.
Position 3: A scooter
This story comes from a maid named Caterina. We don’t even know how to comment this. Back in 2001, when, during a football match, four Inter Milan supporters took a scooter into the stadium, set it on fire and threw it over a balcony. We've never understood how they managed to "sneak" it in. Now we know that one can basically bring a scooter just about anywhere and go unnoticed. Including in a hotel room, through the lobby, in the elevator and so forth.
Position 2: Wedding rings
Vita told us the story of a Japanese couple that forgot both their smartphones and their wedding rings. The forgetful lovers came back to collect the phones but totally forgot about the rings until the housekeeper told them “I assume these are yours as well…”.
Love will really tear us apart!
Position 1: A baby
In an elegant four star property, a husband and wife check out and leave. Very polite couple, according to the maid who told us this incredible story.
When she came up to their room to clean it up she found they had left their 1-year-baby, sleeping like a rock in the crib. The hotel GM promptly contacted the couple while they were still heading to the airport.
What does reassure us here is that they didn't leave their child in a hot car. At least the baby was doing great and it seems wasn't too rushed to fly home.
To wrap it up
According to a Kelton Global study conducted in 2015, 35% of americans returned to a hotel to retrieve something they forgot, at some point in their lives.
Mainly clothing, toiletries, electronic devices, jewellery, underwear and hair styling tools. But once in a while a guest leave more than their favourite shirt behind and this list the living proof. But no matter how weird, hotels need a good system to manage all the items that have been found, to tag them properly and store them so guests can be informed and the items can be retreived.
We're pretty happy that RoomChecking (yes this is a shameless plug) has a great system for that.
Now, back to the handgun incident in Italy, there’s a happy ending to that incident: after surgery the wounded maid is out of danger will come back to work very soon, with a new scar but another great Lost & Found story to tell.