Sometimes reality brings stories so bizarre that any Hollywood screenwriter would take off his hat to them.
This story happened to Nick Burchill seventeen years ago, when he was staying at Empress Hotel in Nova Scotia, and led to his lifetime ban from Empress. The recent lifting of this ban was what made him share his story with the world.
In 2001 the company where Nick Burchill was working was hosting a customer conference at the Empress. He told his navy buddies (Nick was in the Canadian Naval Reserve) that he was coming from Halifax to the West, and they asked him to bring them some Brothers pepperoni – a Halifax delicacy.
Burchill had to empty the Brothers’ shelves. “Because this was the navy we were talking about, I brought enough for a ship,” he wrote in a Facebook post about the ordeal. “I had completely filled a suitcase with pepperoni for my friends. Some of it was wrapped in plastic, some in brown paper.”
His pepperoni-packed suitcase was misplaced by the airline and arrived in Victoria a day late. Burchill thought the pepperoni should still be good – most of the time it was kept in the cold. He only had to keep it that way for a little longer.
There was, however, a problem: his room was big, nice and faced the Inner Harbor, but didn’t have a refrigerator. Not even a small one.
“It was April, the air was chilly,” Burchill said. Who needs a fridge if there’s plenty of cold air on the street? He only had to spread the packages of pepperoni on a table and along the windowsill, and leave the window opened. So he did just that and then went out for a walk. For about 4 or 5 hours.
That seemed to be a great plan until Burchill came back to the hotel.
“I remember walking down the long hall and opening the door to my room to find an entire flock of seagulls in my room. I didn’t have time to count, but there must have been 40 of them.” Attracted by the pepperoni smell, the birds had been feasting for a few hours already.
Burchill’s entry caught them off guard and the seagulls panicked. The flock rose in the air and became a tornado of seagulls. Birds were flying around, crashing into things, knocking down lamps, trashing the curtains and desperately trying to leave the room through the small opening by which they had entered. Or through the other (closed) windows.
Nick made his way through the storm of seagulls, feathers and pepperoni chunks, and opened all other windows. In a few seconds, all the seagulls left his room. Well, all except one which immediately tried to re-enter the room to grab another piece of pepperoni. In desperation, the man took off one of his shoes and threw it at the seagull. Both the bird and the shoe went out the window.
By this time, only one bird was left in the room, but it was a big and especially greedy one. Carrying a huge chunk of pepperoni in its gob, it couldn’t even take flight. It ran around the room until Burchill grabbed a bath-towel and jumped it. Finally, the last seagull left the room through the window, wrapped in the towel.
The aftermath was a complete disaster. Apparently, spicy pepperoni does not go well with a seagull’s digestive system. In addition to the room having been trashed by fairly large birds, everything was covered in guano.
It was while looking at the damage that Burchill realized he had to head out to an important dinner, and he was currently only in possession of one shoe. The other one was lying outside, on a wet patch of soil near the towel-wrapped seagull. He had to come out to fetch it.
Back in his room, Burchill tried to dry the shoe with a hairdryer. When his phone rang, he was startled and the hairdryer fell into a sink filled with water.
“I don’t know how much of the hotel’s power I knocked-out, but at that point I decided I needed help,” said Burchill. And called the room service. And left for dinner. “I can still remember the look on the lady’s face when she opened the door,” he said.
When Burchill returned, his items had been moved to a smaller room. A little later his company received a letter banning Nick Burchill from the Empress… FOREVER.
For 17 years Burchill had been carrying this weight. Recently he decided to write a mea culpa letter to the hotel.
I officially applied to be allowed to stay at the empress hotel again. Here is my letter. Waiting for the reply. 18…
“I have matured and I admit responsibility for my actions. I come to you, hat-in-hand to apologise for the damage I had indirectly come to cause and to ask you reconsider my lifetime ban from the property.” He told his story and, at last, was forgiven.
The pound of Brothers Pepperoni that Burchill brought to the hotel’s personnel as a peace offering might have helped too.
Source: Nick Burchill / Facebook