I had a very unusual thing happen to me last week. And in a way, I really can’t believe it happened.
Let me start at the beginning.
Last week, I was in Mannheim, Germany for a business meeting. Mannheim is a pleasant little town about a 40 minute train ride south of Frankfurt. I stayed in a fine hotel where the meeting was being held. I checked into the hotel around noon. They handed me a key and on the keycard envelope was written the room number — room 527.
I took the elevator up to the 5th floor, walked down the hall, put the keycard into the door, the door opened, and I found a small but clean room with a bed, chair and desk. The very basic business hotel room.
I took the next few minutes to unpack, charge my electronic devices and have a quick shower.
Exactly as expected. Nothing unusual.
After I got cleaned up, I got dressed and went downstairs into one of the conference rooms for an all day meeting. At around 8 PM, I headed up to my room to get something I needed – and I found my keycard wouldn’t work in my door. I tried again. It still wouldn’t work. Convinced I could make it work, I tried a third time, still no luck. Just as I was about to head down to the front desk, a woman walked out of my room. She was clearly surprised I was standing there – just as I was surprised that someone was coming out of my room.
Luckily, she worked for the hotel. In her broken english and my high school german, here’s what we discovered. I was given a key for room 527. Somehow, I used that key and walked into room 528. I didn’t even notice that I had entered the wrong room. Probably I didn’t notice because my key worked in the door. Later in the day, they gave a key to someone else for room 528 – and they went up to the room and announced that someone’s stuff was all over the room.
The hotel spent the entire day trying to figure our who was the mystery person in room 527. Since I was in the conference room all day, I never picked up the message or never went back to my room. I have no idea how long the hotel employee was camped out inside my room. I don’t think for very long.
But it got me thinking – how did that happen? How did my room key work in more than one door? Do all hotel keys work in multiple doors and we don’t know – because as honest people we only try our own door?
And what would have happened if the real owner of room 528 entered to find me fast asleep in their bed? Or I walked in on them showering or getting dresses?
I’ve checked into hundreds of hotels during my career, and I don’t think anything like that has ever happened to me before. But I know it will definitely do one thing differently next time I enter a hotel room. I will 100% chain the door behind me.
Because you never know who may have a key that fits into your door.