Alright, so I talked about the celebrities I’ve actually worked on. Now I’ll tell about the one’s I only saw around the hotel. I worked there for 7 years, so you might want to get a snack and take a seat….
Barry Sanders - he was working out in the exercise room and, man, is he ever huge! He was at the hotel for a charity thing.
Reba McEntire - passed her in the hallway.
KISS - I saw them getting into their tour bus when I was walking to my car to leave. I ended up behind their bus and, I don’t know if they were lost or what, but I was driving behind them almost all the way to my house! They must’ve thought I was stalking or something, but seriously, the way they went was NOT the way to the airport.
Rob Zombie - I saw him walking from the parking lot to the main hotel as I was driving in to work. He’s kinda hard to miss with those fantastic dreadlocks, full beard, and all those tattoos. When I got my schedule, I just about choked when I saw his name on my roster of clients. I was going to get to see all those tat’s close up and personal - so cool! Well, not so much. Turns out he and his wife wanted to be at Canyon Ranch and somehow ended up at Loew’s. They left before they got their services. Bummer.
Harrison Ford - OK, I didn’t actually see him but I heard him. On the phone. Ripping our desk staff a new one. He had scheduled two 8am massages and at 8:10 called the desk staff. The teenagers that worked the desk were all atwitter (he’s a flippin’ icon for pete’s sake!) and since no one was around that early except desk people (and the 2 therapists - me and Grace), they put him on speaker phone. It went a little something like this…
HF - Where are the therapists?
Desk Girl: Well, Mr. Ford, we were just going to call to see where you were. Are you running a little late this morning?
OK, I won’t go into it word for word but suffice it to say, Mr. Ford mistakenly thought he’d booked in-room treatments. Not real sure why he thought that, it’s nowhere in our brochures. We didn’t do those - we didn’t have the portable tables for that. He just assumed. He lost his mind and started yelling and calling her names I wouldn’t call a dog and saying stupid shit like, “Do you know who I am??” and ended up making this 17-year-old girl cry. What a tool.
Early in my career at the spa, we closed at 9p and did all our pay paperwork by hand. In triplicate. Good times. Anyway, Grace (who was my closest friend at work - we hung out and worked together a lot) and I were at the desk - it was late and we were doing our paperwork. There was this really tall woman hanging out at the desk, chatting with the staff. She had just worked out and was wearing a beanie cap and looking pretty rough. Well, Grace was staring at her and kept staring til finally I elbowed her and whispered, “Gra-ace!” Grace asked the woman, “I’m sorry, you look so familiar, do we know each other?” The woman said, “I don’t know, maybe we went to the same high school or something? Where did you go to school.” I leaned over to Grace and said, “Grace. She’s Geena Davis.” Grace was mortified and apologized profusely and Geena was very nice about it. (I think I mentioned last time that our employee handbook says not to make a big deal or ask for autographs or anything.) For years after that, anytime there was a celebrity at the hotel, we’d all bust on her and, within her earshot, say, “So-and-so is here. Don’t tell Grace!”
But about four years later, I had my own stupid move. Grace and I were walking up the stairs from the treatment rooms to leave for the day. There was this heavyset man at the desk and he was wearing these blue, Capri pants. I leaned over to Grace and whispered, “I have those same pants and as soon as I get home, I’m so throwing them away!” By now, our paperwork was finally computerized, so we could just leave. Well, we could leave except for checking out to make sure they didn’t book us something we didn’t know about. So as we’re waiting for the desk staff to finish helping the blue Capri man, I’m looking at him. Well, staring really. He’s watching me and seeing the gears in my head slowly turn - waiting for it…
Me: OHMIGOD! You’re that comedian! Holy crap, I think you are so funny! [I couldn’t remember his name and that was obvious but I blathered on anyway about how great I thought he was. Then it hit me what I was doing and I said…] Oh man, I’m so sorry. I could get in so much trouble for that because I’m in uniform.
Ron White: That’s OK. You’re secret’s safe with me. Thanks, though.
I think one of the most, well, I won’t say most famous, but certainly the most important person I had any contact with was Madelaine Albright. She was still Secretary of State at the time and was in Tucson to do the commencement speech at the University’s graduation. She got treatments every day she was there and she was a very kind and sweet person. I was still at the desk back then and all the desk people were marveling at the measures taken for her stay. She had EIGHT Secret Service guys with her. Four on break and four on duty. Some silly desk boy said, “Man! What a cushy job. All they do is sit around and drink cokes all day.” I looked at him like he was crazy and said, [slowly, and using small words, so he would understand] “No. Their job is to take. A bullet. Besides, they’re sitting around in wool suits in the Tucson summer heat. Yeah, that’s fun.”
Seriously, though, it was pretty wild. They had a bomb dog come and sniff all the cabinets before Ms. Albright received her services and he even sniffed the pool before she took her morning swim! It seemed like a really old dog - not decrepit or anything, just a lot of gray around the muzzle. After the dog did his job, we’d take turns slackin’ off to go play fetch with it.
On her second to last day, I was out by the pool playing with the dog (while Ms. Albright swam) and suddenly the head Secret Service guy comes over and grabs me by the upper arm…
Scary Man: Who’s that guy!
[Let me explain. If you’re in the pool area and look West, all you see is scenery. If you are on the sidewalk above the pool and walk PAST the pool (going West), there’s actually a walkway there that goes to the golf cart place. So the Secret Service guys have some poor golfer slammed up against the pool’s fence and are dumping his golf bag and generally accosting this innocent bystander!]
Me: I don’t know! He’s probably just some guest!
Scary Man Who‘s Still Fiercely Gripping My Arm: What’s he doing over there??
Me: oo-oow! I’m guessing by the bag, that he’s going down to the golf carts! [Here I had the fleeting thought, ‘Let go of my arm! Don’t make me bust out my Army training!’. But my next, and clearly more sane thought was, ‘Yea. He’d snap me like a twig.’]
Scary Man [who clearly had no idea there was a path over there]: Man. We really fucked up.
Me: Well. You’re only human.
Scary Man [giving my arm an even HARDER squeeze as he nearly shouts at me]: We’re not paid to be human!
Me [finally pulling my head out and wrenching my arm away from him]: Dude, you need a massage.
I walked briskly back into the hotel only glancing behind me to see them straightening the golfer up and handing him his empty golf bag. Ms. Albright swam on, oblivious to the whole drama.
What a crazy life! Some say, “It must suck having to have that constant security and scrutiny.” I say, “Better that then the alternative!” The next day, when she was scheduled to do her speech and then fly off to other events, I was walking up the driveway to work (back when I used to actually park in employee parking). There must’ve been every single motorcycle cop in Tucson and the surrounding areas waiting in the circle leading to the front door. And every single one of them said “Hi” to me! It was very odd saying hello to about 30 motorcycle cops that early in the morning. (As if it wouldn’t be weird after lunch?)
Eyes full of stars, Ruth!