It's the same 6 hotels every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The company that pays me to do it is commissioned by the hotel chains to get the pics. The purpose is supposedly for marketing reasons; they get an idea of the sort of groups that are using the rooms and generate "Glengarry Leads". From their website:
Readers brings in-depth, customized field research directly to you. Every week we send out more than 200 field researchers into more than 2,000 hotels to take digital photos of their reader board. This data is recorded into the Readers database nightly and made available online to clients the very next day. We are constantly adding new groups to our database and verifying information on the hundreds of thousands of groups already there. Crucial contact information is included in every group’s profile.
Anyway, I've been doing this for a year now and like I've said before, it's easy money. Each hotel has a different setup in terms of these "event boards". A couple hotels have just that, simple boards right near the entrance that list what's going on in the rooms each day. A couple other hotels only have card-holders outside each of the rooms themselves, so I have to go and grab snaps of each of them. Another hotel has a flatscreen TV on a wall that cycles thru ads for room service, info on the hotel restaurant, and it lists the events for the day.
The only hotel that has been a real bitch is this one in Bronte (Oakville), The Quality Inn & Executive Suites. The setup there is: their "event board" is nothing more than a computer monitor, which sits on the counter of the front desk, right beside the attendant. That makes it pretty hard to take a picture surreptitiously, when someone is permanently situated beside what I need a pic of. It also doesn't help that: a) there's usually never anything going on there…just an empty lobby, and b) there seems to be only 3 people that work there. No matter what day of the week I go, or what time of day, it's always either one of two Asian ladies or the one brown gentleman there. I know they must wonder "what the fuck is up with that weirdo who shows up here all the time?" (except I imagine they don't say "fuck". They appear well-mannered) The Brown Gentleman really seems to have a distaste for me. He just stares at me with a look that says: "You're a real piece of shit." (although…I imagine he doesn't say "shit". Well….actually he probably does)
I've often thought that I should just tell them what I'm doing. They probably assume I am a "mystery shopper" and that I am there secretly evaluating their work. I could just explain to them what I do and ask them to not tell anyone and all of our lives would be easier…
Last weekend I was hitting that hotel later that I usually do. It was about 8:00 p.m. and as I rolled up to the entrance I saw the Brown Gentleman standing out front with a couple other guys. "Great," I thought "I get to walk past him and have him stare me down." Fortunately though, as I got out of the car he headed inside.
Now, the lobby is laid out like this: you walk in and straight ahead is the front-desk. To the left is a corridor leading to the elevators. To the right of the front-desk is a lounge area with sofas and a TV on the wall. My usual M.O. is to walk right in and head to the lounge area. I'll sit and make like I'm watching TV and when no one's looking: snap-snap. As soon as I walked in that evening, I found the lounge area to be completely occupied. There must have been a girls peewee hockey team staying there or something because the place was full of teeny-bopper chicks, playing the piano in the lobby and watching that big-screen TV. I couldn't do my regular routine so instead I just stood at the front windows, with my back to the counter, making like I was waiting for someone. Checking the reflection in the glass, when the attendant went to the back room for a second I tried to take a pic. Since I was taking the shot from further away than normal, the shot turned out blurry and therefore useless. I tried to take another, but same story.
Just then, I noticed the Brown Gentleman enter the lobby and shoot a glance at me. "That's it." I thought. "I'm just going to go tell these guys what I do. Then, I'll be able to just walk in here and take a quick picture and no one will bother me and I'll put their minds at ease." I made the decision then and there. I turned around and started walking toward the front-desk. I was halfway there when a group of people came around the corridor. Not "a group of people" exactly. More like "an angry mob". An angry mob who were making a beeline for me. I did a double-take, noticing that this group of 5 large men were marching a deliberate path right at me. "What the fuck is this?" I thought, when just then I heard a little-girl's voice cry out: "He took my picture!"
"Holy shit." was my next thought.
These guys came at me all livid, demanding to know what I was doing, why was I taking pictures of their daughters, etc. My response was something like: "Nononononononononono! Y-y-y-y-y-you don't understand!" I rapidly made a babbling explanation of my job and showed them the pictures on my camera as proof. I was halfway through convincing them when a super-pissed-off mom appeared, demanding to know what I, the obvious pervert asshole, thought I was doing and "Show me the pictures on your camera…RIGHT NOW!!". I had calmed down a bit by then and said: "Fine, no problem. I was just explaining to these guys that I work for the hotels and that I get paid to act as a sort of 'secret-shopper', and you've just completely blown my cover thank you very much. I guess I'm not going to get paid to come to this place anymore…".
They were not apologetic at all. They begrudgingly relented in their desire to pummel me and left. I was left there with the Brown Gentleman and one of the Asian Ladies looking blankly at me. I approached the counter and said: "Jeez….they were going to beat the shit out of me, huh?". Nothing from them.
I say: "So…….I must look familiar to you, right?"
The Asian Lady says, matter-of-factly: "Yes."
I say: "Like, I'm here all the time, yeah?"
She says: "Yes."
I ask: "You ever wonder why I'm always here?"
I explained to them what I do and why, and that I'm not supposed to tell them but asked them to please not say anything. I'm not sure if they totally understood me or not; they just nodded politely. But they never smiled.
After telling them my story I made my exit. I got all the way back to the car before I realized: "After all that…I never even got the picture!"
I went back in, went right up to the counter, said "Sorry!", and took the photo.
The next day I called "Q" (that's what I call my boss. Get it? Spy-job? "Q"?…whatever) and told her that the gig is up with that place; my cover is blown.
So now I only do 5 hotels three times a week.
Maybe if I flash my dick at a minor I could get out of having to do that one hotel that's really way out of my way. Hmmmmm…….