The George Washington Inn

Commuting to college makes for a ragged schedule that limits time available for working. After three enjoyable semesters living at college, Brad decided to move home and get on with the business of growing up. For him that meant having his own money and finishing college as quickly as possible. Fortunately for him, Williamsburg held a bounty of part time jobs due to the hotels and restaurants. Brad’s career trajectory looked to be in the fitness industry, so he concentrated on hotels with workout facilities. One such hotel would change his life, The George Washington Inn.

He started his Saturday shift at three o’clock. The afternoon sun had already turned the glass box of a fitness center into a microwave, so he cranked the ceiling fan to its maximum speed and got himself together for the long haul. He turned on the sound system and pushed in the two-hour cassette, which was something between an eight track and an album. Obscure 80s new wave tracks filled the room until later when Brad would put on the “Country Holiday Classics” cassette. For now he would survive with one hit MTV wonders. Next, he plugged in the 6-inch portable TV, so he could watch the Kentucky Derby.  Finally, out came the statistics gear that would consume most of Brad’s time during the solitary Saturday shift Saturday.

Like most hotels in Williamsburg during the fitness boom of the 80s, the George Washington Inn put their workout center on the marquee, but the owners only made a token commitment to the sweat inspired guests by stuffing a chrome Universal gym into a tiny room. The real money maker for the hotel was the tanning beds that kept a steady stream of wrinkle seekers streaming through the door. While Brad was in the fitness center to provide expert advice on all things exercise, his biggest duty was collecting fees from the fake bakers.

After working out some correlation problems, cheering Willie Shoemaker on to a twelfth place finish, and surviving a couple hours of Adam Ant and the Go Go’s, Brad decided to head down to the hotel’s world famous buffet for dinner. As usual he hit the chicken and rice and headed back to his little box. He passed a rough looking trio coming down the stairs from the fitness center.

“Did you guys need any help?” asked Brad.

“No, we were looking for the pool,” answered one of the toughies.

“Down the stairs to the right…”

Brad was suspicious because they did not look like the typical GWI guests. These guys were decked out in denim and flannel, but not quite motorcycle gang rough. They were more like guys who rode around in their trucks looking for something to do until one of them had an idea to do something more stupid than cruising around Williamsburg. Through the glass in the fitness center Brad could see the pool and he would be able to see if actually went swimming.

Two of the three got into the pool. The other sat on the side watching the action. Really he was casing the joint. People, especially families, staying at a hotels do some really dumb things. Near the top of the list is leaving their keys laying on a table while they are off enjoying family time in the pool. These guys were not some local yokels looking to hop a pool, they were scavengers looking to rob overly trusting tourists.

An interesting game of surveillance was taking place. The non-swimming potential master thief was watching hotel rooms through the glass roof of the pool. He was looking for families who would put their belongings on a poolside table and go cannon balling into the water. At that point, the scout would turn into the infantry and steal the room card. While the family was distracted by the wholesomeness of their splashing, the thief would go up to their room and steal any valuables left in the room.

Only this time, Brad, was the eye in the sky watching the scout through the same pool roof. The time passed slowly. Two fake bakers paid their five dollars for thirty minutes in the pseudo sun while the country Christmas took over for the new wavers. Then a family started their journey towards a robbery.  The scout was on them right away. The kids were running around. The parents were dressed for swimming and neither of them carried a bag, just the room key. 

Perfect.

Everything went according to plan. The kids jumped into the pool. The mom went to the hot tub. The dad went in with the kids. The key offered itself to the scout who took it and made a tactical walk for the unsecured room. Two minutes later he stepped into the hallway and looked across the courtyard to see Brad staring his way. Maybe it was the Christmas music, maybe it was all the Miami Vice Brad had watched, or maybe it was just dumb luck, but neither Brad nor the scout reacted to their distant eye contact. Brad kept staring off into space and the scout returned the key to the table.

The gang of three stayed in the pool like nothing had happened. Brad was sure he had to do something about the crime, but he also knew the manager of the GWI was probably already drunk, so Brad decided to call his father for advice. 

“Yo, Dad, what should I do if I think I just saw a robbery and the crooks are still here?” asked Brad.

“Are you at work?”

“Yeah.”

“Well be there in a few minutes.”

Brad’s father was a police officer. Calling him was not like calling 9-1-1, but it had the same effect, only without all of the Crocket and Tubbs histrionics. The problem was that the thieves were on the move. The swimmers were out of the pool and they looked to be leaving. For a few seconds they were out of sight which meant they must be coming back through the fitness center instead of going out of one of the hotel’s wings. Now Brad was nervous. He wanted these guys to be caught, but he was alone in the back of the hotel. Then he remembered that the scout had seen Brad looking as he left the hotel room. The gang was now walking down the short hallway to the fitness center and Brad was sure this would not go well.

“How’s the swim?” asked Brad.

Before they could answer the door to one of the tanning beds flew open. It’s hard to tell what was more distracting, the smell of burning flesh or the near nakedness of the tanner. Either way the focus of conversation was changed and Brad realized he was off the hook with these guys.

“Can I have ten more minutes?” she asked.

“Sure,” Brad set the timer.

The door closed and the scout said to his crew, “Let’s stick around and see what happens. It’s only ten more minutes.”

They agreed and started seeing who could lift the most on the bench press. While they seemed to be cool under the pressures of criminal escapades, these guys could not escape the overwhelming burden of testosterone’s dumbing down effect. For a chance to talk to an overly crisp young lady they would hang around the scene of their crime.

A couple of Williamsburg’s finest climbed the stairs from the parking lot. Two more entered the fitness center from the hotel side and the below the belt thinking criminals were arrested. The family had their valuables and cash returned, the tanning girl never knew anything happened, and Brad decided to quit. There were other hotels.