Ghost in the Stairwell

I was in my twenties when I’d had my first (and, so far, only) possible experience with what could be classified under the paranormal. I was working at a hotel as a Room Service Waiter on the evening that it happened. Everything had proceeded normally. I’d prepared my rolling cart where I had two orders to deliver– one contained “hot” food (which required the use of a portable “hot box”) and the other contained “cold” food. When everything was ready, I took the elevator to the top floor of the hotel. I had everything planned perfectly. I would wheel my cart down the guest corridor toward room 1401 (which had the “hot” food order) but would deliver the “cold” food order for 1201 first. To do that would mean a quick detour down one floor using the north stairwell. The delivery to 1201 would take mere minutes; I was confident I will not be “late” in delivering 1401’s order.

I took 1201’s tray and propped it on the palm of my right hand, over my right shoulder, and walked to the north stairwell. The stairwells in the hotel were designed so that there was a landing between floors, which made for shorter flights. I exited onto the stairwell, tray in hand, and proceeded down the steps. When I got to the landing, just when I turned to go down the second flight of stairs to get to the 12th floor, I noticed a man to my right– seeing him mostly to my periphery. He was obviously a hotel guest heading to some event. He was Caucasian, in his twenties, probably about 6 feet in height (I just knew he was taller than me), clad in a white tuxedo with black lapels, and he had dark, slicked back hair. He almost looked too old fashioned, like one of those male characters you would see in a black-and-white movie. This vivid description of this man would be forever imprinted to memory.

Because we were taught to yield to guests, I swung my tray forward out of his way and said, “You go on ahead an pass me, sir.” When I turned to my right again, I noticed that he was gone. As if a scene in a movie, I frantically turned my head in all directions in that stairwell and realized that I was alone. I was stunned for a moment, but quickly regained my wits about me, and proceeded down the second flight of stairs to deliver the order to 1201.

I didn’t think much about my “encounter,” considering myself silly for even thinking I’d had such a strange experience in the first place. I completed both orders without skipping another beat. As I was on the elevator, heading back to Room Service, a coworker hopped in from the 7th or 8th floor. The first words she said: “What’s the matter, Jon?” I asked her why she asked me. She said, “You’re so pale. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I was taken aback by what she said, and proceeded to tell her what I’d experienced. The following morning, I sought out a head of maintenance, who’d been at the hotel since it opened, and asked him point blank if there’d been any deaths in the hotel involving a banquet guest. (I didn’t tell him about my potential ghostly encounter.) He freely offered that 15 years before I started working at the hotel, there was a man who was taken by ambulance from a formal event, some kind of gala. He believed he’d had a heart attack. He couldn’t fully recall but he guessed that the man had indeed passed away that night.

Could that have been the man in the stairwell? If so, what was he doing in the stairwell? Did he take the stairwell down the evening that he died? I was never able to get a definitive answer about the fate of that man, and don’t know if I’d truly experienced what I did. Those whom I’ve relayed my story seemed to think it too much of a coincidence that the encounter occurred in the stairwell landing between the 14th and 12th floor– a “13th floor” of sorts. Too convenient, in my book. But, for the two years that I’d stayed with the Room Service department after that experience, I never took the north stairwell between the 14th and 12th floors again.


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January 2008
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