Locked Out At The Ritz
GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT the "Trust Me" episode. Now since I was a kid, I've had this reoccurring dream - reoccurring nightmare, really. And I'm not going to give it away except to say that Neil Lambert, our next guest, he lived the dream in real life. And he lived it at the fanciest hotel in town.
NEIL LAMBERT: My name is Neil Lambert. I was in Montreal on a business trip, and I was there with my coworkers and my boss. So we all took our taxi to this bar down the street. And as we're getting out of the taxi, there's this guy, and he's dressed in business attire. And he looks like he's at the end of his rope. And he asked me if I know where the Ritz-Carlton was, which, coincidentally, is where I'm staying. I didn't really want to trouble myself with trying to give the guy directions. I'm not from Montreal. And so I ended up lying to him, telling him that I didn't know where it was.
And I remember as I was walking away the look that he gave me was that look of kind of, like, total defeat. And so I went into the bar and quickly forgot about him. We all drank and had a good time. And then we came back to the hotel, and I had dranken maybe a little bit too much. I was going through my whole process of washing up and brushing my teeth and whatever. And then something completely bizarre happened. I remember putting my hand on the door handle to leave the bathroom to go to my bedroom. I blinked. And as I opened my eyes, I'm not in the bathroom. I'm actually in the hallway of the hotel staring at my front door, and I'm completely naked. And I'm locked out. So I guess what had happened is I had somehow left the bathroom, and I thought I was walking into my room, but I was actually walking out of my hotel room. I let it set in for a few minutes.
I just stood there in the hallway alone, naked waiting for myself to just wake up, and nothing. It's anywhere between midnight and 6 a.m.. I'm weighing my options. And I really only have a few. I can face the music and go downstairs to the lobby, which I didn't really want to do because there may be other people from the conference. Or I can find one of my coworkers. But unfortunately, I don't remember anyone's room number. And so my other option was to just hope for some stranger's help. And so I started just randomly walking down the hallways trying to make a little bit of noise, you know, so people would know somebody was out there, Knocking on doors as I walked down the hall until I found one door that had light coming from underneath it. So I knew somebody was awake. And so I knocked on the door. And I saw some shadows underneath the door. The eye hole goes dark.
So now I know that they're looking at me. So I start talking to the door. And I say, I know this is completely insane, but I'm locked out of my room, and I desperately need a towel. Can you help me? There's no response for a second, and then just hysterical laughter. And then the eye hole goes back to light, and I clearly see that they've walked away, and they're not going to help me. And it was completely earth shattering at the time. I'm thinking, OK, that's it. The only option I have left is to go to the lobby, and so that's what I'm going to do. I got back into the elevator. And my biggest fear at this point was that somebody was going to get on the elevator. And so I had actually positioned myself into the front right corner of the elevator where all the buttons for the floors are.
And I had kind of huddled into the corner. I reached the lobby. I'm ready to exit. But as the doors open, I immediately meet the eyes of a woman. She's looking at me, and I'm looking at her right off the bat. As the door continues to open, it reveals my nakedness. And her two children, ages 4 and 6 - and her expression is one of, like, horror and shock. My expression is probably about the same. And her kids' expression is one of this is the funniest thing that has ever happened to either of us in our whole lives. There is a naked man, and he is riding the elevators for fun. And the doors stay open, and no one's moving. And then the doors begin to close again. And all I could muster as I left her sight forever was, I'm sorry. I didn't intend for this to happen this way.
And I'm like OK, I don't know what to do, but I guess I'll just go back to my floor. This was a terrible idea. I'm imagining in my head that she immediately went to the front desk and let them know that there was some crazy man, drunk, exposing himself to women and children - and being taken away in hand-cuffs in a country that I'm not even a citizen. Before I get to floor 21, floor 18, the elevator stops and the doors open. And of all the people that I could be looking at, it was the man from the beginning of my evening who was looking for the directions of the Ritz-Carlton who I lied to and said I didn't know where it was. And we're just standing there. And the nakedness of my lie is clear, literally. And I know that he recognizes me, and I recognize him.
And so the first thing I say is, I'm sorry, and I explain the whole situation. And if he could just see it in his heart to forgive me for not giving him the time of day earlier. And if he could go back to his hotel room and get me a towel, I would really, really appreciate it. He takes pity on me and says, OK, give me a second. I'll go get you a towel. And so I stood there, and I waited. I thought maybe this was his final revenge, but he came back. And he had a towel. And I thanked him profusely, and then we rode down together, to this day, the most awkward elevator ride of my life. We got to the lobby. The young woman who's the front desk clerk, she's on the phone. And as I get closer she says, I'm going to go. I think I have him right here.
And she hangs up the phone, and she says, you wouldn't happen to be the same person who has been riding the elevators naked and exposing himself to other guests and randomly prowling the halls naked knocking on people's doors? Are you because we've had a few complaints. Then I say, yes, that was me. I didn't really know what to do. She says, what you need to do is you need to verify what you room you're in. And so I tell her my name and my room number. And she looks it up in the computer, and that's not true. Excuse me, I say. That's definitely my room. My name is Neil, and she says no. That name does not match that room. So now, like, I obviously look like a suspicious character. She's calling security. People are coming. Things are going bad.
And eventually, I find out that what had happened was my boss, who booked all the rooms, he thinks it's fun to give people aliases. So my room was under the name Wally Greenberg. And so what I ended up having to do is wait for them to find my boss and have him come to the lobby to verify that the naked employee that was standing in the lobby was in fact his.
And he verified my identity, and he locked eyes with me like we'll talk about this later. And I'm thinking, I'm definitely fired. They take me up to my room. I walked in, and all the clothes that I was wearing out that day were neatly piled in the room on the floor folded as if I took the time to take off each individual sock and fold it and then just casually walked out the door. My boss ultimately felt pretty guilty with the whole fake name scenario that the next day it was totally water under the bridge. And then as I got to the front desk to check out, the guy behind the desk says we just wanted to let you know that you are no longer welcome at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal.
WASHINGTON: Thank you Neil Lambert for trusting us with your story. We trust as well that you will keep your clothes on at other hotels or establishments that you care to visit in the future. That story was produced by our own Stephanie Foo.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.