A Baggage Handler: Check in at least 30 minutes before the flight. Any later than that and your bag will probably miss the plane. There was one day when a delayed flight meant that we had two departures at the same time to the same city, and I loaded an entire cart of bags onto the wrong plane.
A Flight Attendant: I make doubly sure to attend to the needs of anyone who has tipped me, sometimes throwing in a free round--and the drinks are always strong. If you want to meet flight attendants outside the work environment, it's as simple as going to the bar of the hotel nearest the airport, where you'll find airline crews unwinding at any time of day.
A Lifeguard: Of course we talk about everybody on the beach-any flaw in any person. We buy our own walkie-talkie radios and communicate that way, about hot girls and everyone else who's not so hot. We pee in the water just like everybody else—some of the guards even go No. 2 in there. And, of course, it's illegal to have sex on the beach, but I always catch people doing it in the water.
A Hotel Housekeeper: I cut corners everywhere I could. Instead of vacuuming, I found that just picking up the larger crumbs from the carpet would do. Rather than scrub the tub with hot water, sometimes it was just a spray-and-wipe kind of day. One man watched me clean his entire room, from scrubbing the toilet to emptying the trash—and told me at the end that I was "building character."
An Oktoberfest Waiter: English people tend to brawl more than others. It's not uncommon to actually see glasses flying through the air. But in my experience, I'd say people end up quite the same when they get really drunk. Doesn't matter anymore where they're from.
(Arne Trautmann / age fotostock)
A New York Street-Food Vendor: I used to get a lot of big names at my cart. Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger—Richard Simmons even stopped by once. He saw the big line out front, so he came around to the back of my cart and asked if he could buy from me there. I told him the line was in the front. He asked, "Don't you know who I am?" I said, "Of course! But you still gotta wait in line."
A Vegas Massage Therapist: I'll skip the graphic details, but suffice it to say guests have done things in the showers and the whirlpool that are so unsanitary it's necessary to shut them down. A classy spa doesn't guarantee classy clients.
A Casino Pit Boss: Casinos spend millions studying psychology and what motivates us to take risks. That's why you see so much red, especially on slot machines--red supposedly attracts players and gets them to think of victory. I'll never forget the loser who ran up to one of my tables, lost $100, and then asked me, "What's the name of this game again?"
A Cruise Ship Musician: For two weeks every summer, our cruise line hosted a nudists-only sail... It's just plain bizarre seeing people do ordinary things in the buff: playing shuffleboard, scoping out the dinner buffet, doing the "Y.M.C.A."
A Rome Tour Guide: I always strive to maintain my integrity. But I know of tour guides in Rome who pull facts out of thin air whenever they're stumped by a question. Also, don't always trust the reviews you read on TripAdvisor—a high TripAdvisor ranking translates into fat profits, and tour companies will do almost anything for glowing reviews—besides run great tours.