Coffee & Cigarette Break

Have A Laugh While The Boss Isn't Looking 


I once heard someone say it is conceited to hold yourself out as an expert in anything. Label me narcissistic, but I cannot restrain myself from proudly proclaiming that I am highly skilled in hotel maid cart thievery. Once you have declared yourself an expert, however, I believe you have a solemn obligation to share some of your knowledge with the succeeding generation.

Here’s how you can become skilled as well:

  1. You’re Either Born With It Or You’re Not. If the desire isn’t there, give it up; you’ll never make it. In my case, even after 20 years, I still have the passion. 500 small bottles of hand lotion and over 50 mini-sewing kits simply aren’t enough. (Remember: stealing towels from the room is for amateurs, so don’t bring that shit here).
  2. Picking The Best Time To Strike The Target. This is a sixth sense you will develop over time but I will disclose one tip: target a maid who has the TV tuned in to soap operas while she cleans. A perfect time to strike is just before a commercial break as a cliff-hanger unfolds. Every time the words “You’re not my brother! You’re my son!” are uttered, a plastic shoe horn is swiped at a hotel somewhere around the world.
  3. Size Up The Maid Well. Some housekeeping employees aren’t very concerned about guarding those miniature Scope bottles; for others, it’s actually their mission in life. Put your machismo aside and walk away from a hard target. It just isn’t worth it. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about (and I have stacks of Thom McAnn shoeboxes overflowing with mini conditioners turning orange to prove it).
  4. If You Must Attack The Hard Target, Work In A Team. If you’re a cocky upstart that ignores my advice, at least work in a team. Who you select as your accomplice is up to you butI have found that girlfriends and spouses make loyal Maid Cart Thieves. At first, they will scoff at you, but soon they will have their own shoe boxes stuffed with cotton balls, Q-tips and Bliss Spa facial cleansers that, blown up to normal size, would cost $65 a bottle. (By the way, if they ever start loading women’s shoes onto maid’s carts, all hell will break loose). The best role for the novice accomplice is to divert the maid’s attention (aka The Distracter). A trip to the ice machine is perfect for two reasons: (a) it gives The Distracter an excellent cover (“Oh, hi! I need some ice for my Diet Coke”); and (b) in rare cases, when the shit hits the fan, The Distracter can barricade herself in the ice machine alcove.
  5. Now You’re Ready For A Sophisticated Move. After several scouting missions, casually locate your prized possession on the cart. If you’ve made it this far, you are ready to attempt the maneuver that requires the most talent – The Agent 44.  Considered too dangerous by today’s Young Turks (who foolishly call the Bath Concierge with their toiletry requests), The Agent 44 is named after the Control spy from the “Get Smart” television show. Agent 44 was a master of disguise, often secreting himself in couch cushions, wood-burning stoves, and mail boxes. For our purposes, it means hiding between the linens and pillow cases neatly piled on the inside of the cart. While the bewildered housekeeper is wondering why a young woman with a Diet Coke has barricaded herself in the ice machine alcove, nab that coveted bath mat with the embroidered Ritz Carlton logo or the Hilton Hotel ball point pen with letter opener top. Similar to a Kung Fu Deathblow, for your own safety, The Agent 44 should only be attempted by experts.
  6. Don’t Let Yourself Get Soft. When I stay at a luxury hotel, I always refuse the turndown service but then moments later take a bath towel and 4 chocolate squares from the cart of the maid who had just knocked on my door.
  7. Rich Targets. Hotels in foreign countries are rich targets because naive Euros are unaware of Maid Cart Thievery. The exception is Nigeria, where your identity will be swiped by the maid as you gleefully crouch beside her unattended cart.
  8. Lasting Fun. Maid Cart Thievery is more than a legacy to pass on to your children and grandchildren; it’s actually a lot of fun. While I do admit I have more Tampa Bay Today! magazines than I will ever need, other swiped items have led to secondary hilarity. For instance, stationary comes in handy when you need to impersonate a hotel manager to screw with a buddy by sending a letter to his wife: “It has come to my attention that some inappropriate and unnatural things occurred during your husband’s stay here at The Knights Inn – Las Vegas, including, without limitation, an incident involving sultry dancing with Welsh crooner, Tom Jones, and “Summer of Sam” hairdresser, John Leguizamo. Yours truly, A. C. Pennypacker, Proprietor.