The Things They Leave Behind

Stray socks. Bathing suit pieces. Cell phone chargers. Dirty Towels. Balled-up T-shirts. Stuffed animals. Pacifiers. iPods. Beach shoes. Sunglasses.

If I had to name the top ten items left behind by resort guests, all of the above would be on this list. Except for the iPods, phone chargers, and sunglasses, most people don’t notice the things they forgot to pack and take home, and we don’t get panic calls begging us to search their cabins or the grounds.

Our policy for the past eighteen years of dealing with people’s stuff is, if they call and we find what they’re looking for, we’ll pack and send. Most times we pay for the postage. Occasionally, someone will compensate us with a check for four or five bucks. But when it’s a big or heavy item, like the pair of ostrich skin cowboy boots left in Cabin #6, we sent them COD.

All-in-all, I’d say we’ve spent hundreds of dollars and countless minutes packaging and driving to the post office to return items to guests. Everything unclaimed goes into a big lost and found box, which we usually end up donating to the Indian Reservation.

Dealing with the things they leave behind is definitely a resort-owner’s pain in the butt.

Over the weekend we had in another bachelor party, a common event during our shoulder seasons. From what I understand, there were about ten men in our Lodge who opted for a disc golf outing as the groom’s last hurrah. Usually our bachelor party groups are well-behaved and they don’t tend to leave the Lodge in, say, the condition depicted in “The Hangover,” (i.e. chickens running around and a tiger in the bathroom). But without the presence of women, the cabins are left a little more “used,” and there’s always crap left behind.

Today I heard from one of the bachelor-party set who was distraught over forgetting his pillow. His messages—one by phone, one by email—were urgent. “It’s in the lower level and it has a white pillowcase.”

I phoned our caretaker who located it immediately, and I asked him if it was just a standard bed pillow.

“Oh no,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer and it has a really fancy pillowcase.” And then, because he’ll be the one to have to package it and make the trip to the post office, his tone took a sarcastic twist. “No doubt his girlfriend is pissed at him because he left behind her 500-thread count, Egyptian cotton, one-of-a-kind, matched set pillowcase.”

“Send it COD,” I said. “Cotton on Delivery.”

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