From my years working in the hotel industry, I’ve had some pretty bizarre, crazy, terrible and wonderful experiences. I had a guest buy me a bottle of very expensive wine because he noticed I was having a bad day. I had a couple yell at me and try to get me fired because I couldn’t give them a late check out. But over the years, I discovered a startling fact.
I’ve worked in nice luxury hotels where the lobby sparkled in dazzling whiteness. I’ve worked from dingy motels to the best of hotels. Well, maybe not really. But pretty close.
Non-hospitality experienced people don’t know the difference between a motel and hotel. So, I’ll tell you now. A hotel is luxury. A motel is affordable. Hotels come with clean rooms, pleasant staff and great breakfast. Motels come with all of that but the word ‘clean’ is loosely defined. Motel 6’s standards are way lower that of the Hilton. But people stay in motels because it’s the best they can afford.
A surprising realization hit as I was working a late shift at a motel. Poor people seemed more genuine and kind than the rich. Or was that just me? When worked at a Best Western years ago, the people who visited were always nice. They’d chat with you. Always have pleasant things to say and compliments. Sometimes you’d the grumpy ones but that’s just how customer service is. Usually I’d get guests who were staying in town for a wedding, college or some event. They were people who could afford the luxury of Best Western.
Years later I worked at a motel part time and the customers were different. The guests were usually from in-state and not hundreds of miles away. They were poor but also more giving. The conversations they held seemed more genuine. Sometimes I’d get the stinky old drunks but they’d always leave me more of a tip than the rich lady with a dog. The bums who just wanted a place to warm up for ten minutes held more of a real conversation than the soccer mom touring colleges with her daughter.
I never realized how more real bums or people living in poverty are than the ones who make $90,000 a year. When they speak to you, it’s as if you’re a friend they haven’t seen in a while and welcome gladly back. I’m not saying that the wealthy aren’t genuine or super nice. I’m not saying the wealthy are mean and nasty. When I worked at more luxurious hotels, I met plenty of awesome people who made my day special. But the contrast between those people and the guests at a motel are striking.