West Side Stories: ‘I’ll never do that again’
Ten years ago, I was an airline captain, flying a 747 for Delta Airlines.
We flew internationally, which was a lot of fun, usually going to Asia. We’d go out for long trips, usually ten days at a time. The challenge was, you’d only get about six nights in a bed, because you’re going back and forth across the Pacific.
And you were tired all the time.
After about day three, all you wanted to do was sleep. Sometimes you could, sometimes you couldn’t. So I was near the end of one of these trips, and I couldn’t go to sleep. It was ten o’clock at night, I had to get up in a while, I was going home, I was excited.
So I take an Ambien, and blessedly, I go to sleep.
About eight hours later, I wake up … sort of.
Anybody who knows anything about Ambien knows that, as it says on Google, Ambien is “hypnotic.”
So, I get up out of bed in my hotel room. At that time, I didn’t sleep with anything on. I kind of run hot at night. So I get out of bed, go to the door, open the door, and step out -- I don’t have any clothes on, right? – and I start walking down the hall. And by the way, on this floor, the 20th floor of the hotel, that’s where the crew is. There are 20 of us.
I walk down the hallway, around the corner to the elevator, I hit the button for the ground floor …
[Makes the sound of an elevator descending]
… and so far, everything’s good till I get to the ground floor. It’s kind of like the guy who jumps off the building and someone on the 10th floor sees them and shouts, “How’s it going?” and he says, “Great!”
Like that, I get to ground floor, the doors open, and the elevator goes, “Ding!”
And I step out, and then I wake up.
[Much laughter from the audience, causing Chambers to laugh along]
It’s … it’s mortifying.
I’m terrified, I’m embarrassed.
The place has chandeliers. It’s a very nice hotel. I think, “God, I gotta get out of here! What do I do?”
I’ve been there before, and I think I know where the restrooms are on the mezzanine. So I go up, and I can’t find the Men’s Room. Instead, I go into the Ladies’ Room …
[More audience laughter]
… and there’s nobody else there, so I sit down in a stall, and I’m thinking, “How do I get back to my room? How am I going to do this?” And I think, “I know, I’ll call Rick, my co-pilot.”
[Evidently, he brought his cellphone with him when he sleepwalked naked out of his hotel room]
But then I think, “No, no, no, no, no. If I call Rick, it’s going to go everywhere, and pretty soon, everyone’s going to be going, “You’re the Ambien guy, aren’t you?”
Okay, can’t do that.
So, I start going into the bathroom, looking around. There’s a closet, and inside there’s a little yellow washcloth ….
[A long period of extended audience laughter]
So now I’ve got my plan. I’m going to go back up to my room with my little Pocahontas thing. I go out, nobody sees me, but of course, they’ve got cameras all over the hotel. I go out, hit the elevator, going back up to the 20th floor now. Luckily, nobody’s on the elevator. I get off on the 20th floor, go around the corner, down the hallway, thinking, “Please God, don’t have anybody going down to breakfast yet.”
Now I’m standing in front of my door.
I look around for a housekeeper to let me in, and I see a gal, and go like this …
… And she goes like this …
… and I say, “Come here, come here, come here. This is my room!”
And she says, “Name please?”
And I say, “Chambers-san.”
And she says, “One minute,” and she runs away.
So I’m waiting, and a door opens down the hallway, and now somebody’s coming down the hall. And I’m just holding my yellow washcloth in place, and the guy – it’s a guy, a Delta guy, I think – he wanted nothing to do with me, so he walks by and it’s like when you’re in a gym and he kind of goes by me, and, you know, most compassionate people would say, “Hey, is there a problem? Do you need any help?” But no, he’s just straight ahead and he’s gone.
The gal comes back, she’s got her little key and she opens the door, and I go inside and I am so happy.
So what do you think the first thing I do is?
I put on some underwear.
And the gal says, “I.D. please.”
So, I go get my I.D. and I show it to her, “Chambers.”
And it’s finally over. I’m so thankful that none of the crew saw this. But I’m still so embarrassed. And I think, “Oh my god, I can never do this again! What am I going to do to prevent this from happening again?”
I flew for three more years.
And from then on, every time I went to bed, I always put my flight bag – we used to carry these big flight bags – I put the flight bag in front of the door, to block it.
And I always wore shorts to bed.
And thankfully, I never did that again.