Except for hair that was a few days from its last wash, this young man did not look out of place. And even the cleanliness of his hair was somewhat normal for our hotel, which was blocks from the beach. Any surfer and quite a few women will tell you that "ocean hair" is a look to be desired and impossible to replicate without an actual dip in the sea. So in his case, slightly scruffy didn't set off any internal alarms.
This guy was tall and handsome, with East Coast looks. His wavy strawberry blond hair was swept perfectly to the side every time. He could have easily been a model for a Hampton's mail-order catalogue (if there is such a thing). Always alone and not interested in conversation, he'd stay for one drink at our hotel lobby bar, pay with cash, and take off.
We saw him a lot. This wasn't that strange since some people did check in for long term stays, but his wardrobe was extremely limited for a guest at a luxury beach hotel. Same slacks and sweater every visit, which was every other day. But he smelled fine and shaved frequently.
As time went on though, things changed. He started to act weird. Murmuring to himself. Awkward neck and shoulder ticks surfaced. The hair turned from wind and sand fabulous to greasy gross. The shaving stopped and the five o'clock shadow became a full-on beard.
But he still paid for his drinks and never caused any trouble at the bar. Oh, he always left a buck.
Then, one afternoon as I was setting up for the evening shift, I heard a ton of commotion down the corridor. Lots of men were shouting. It sounded like there was a struggle going on.
Just as I was about to go see what was happening, three hotel security guards came around the corner with our regular who was handcuffed and struggling to be free from their grasp. It took all three guards to get him out of the hotel.
Apparently he was secretly living in the lower half of the hotel for a while, moving between the pool bathrooms and the spa facility. He would shower and shave in the men's locker room, then switch over to the pool bathrooms at night when the spa was closed. He used the towels, mouth wash, toothbrushes, combs, razors...
It was when they found him shirtless in front of the bathroom sink with a needle stuck in his arm that prompted them to put a stop to the madness.