I shared a motel room with a toe nail once—not mine. To be fair, I saw the clipping on the third evening, peeking out from under the table near the window. I notified the office the next morning. When I returned from my client’s site that afternoon, the toenail still smiled at me. Two weeks later, I returned to the same small town, the same motel, the same room, and, you guessed it, the same crescent of someone else’s pedicure winking at me from beneath the table. Yuck!
Last week, I shared a hotel suite with a chunk from a chocolate chip cookie. Again, not mine. The all suites hotel—think high-priced—didn’t live up to the typical standards I associate with it's brand name. The room, although spacious, exhibited a worn, tired look. That alone, not even counting the cookie chunk, made me leery of the suite’s cleanliness. I notified the front desk when I checked out: about the lingering cookie crumb, and the clock/radio and TV remote that didn’t work.
You might ask why I didn’t just dispose of said toenail and crumb. Or why I didn’t notify the hotel of these infractions earlier. I travel a lot for business. For the most part, the accommodations are great. No alarming features or surprises, but when I can’t be in the room to tell housekeeping myself—therefore creating a relationship with the person—I prefer to not give management the opportunity to botch the job and turn their employees against me. I have to stay in the room for several more days, and I’d rather operate with some awareness of what’s wrong instead of worrying about additional issues. And I draw the line at what I will touch once I know to question the barriers of cleanliness.
Plus, I must admit a certain level of curiosity. After a day with the cookie chunk I wonder. Did they do a better vacuuming job today? Will it be there? It becomes a bit of a game.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do report problems when they occur, which, by the way, are less than 2% of the time for me. For instance, I had to ask a hotel to remove the used bath towel that still hung from the bathroom door when I checked in. And, well, the toilet in the center of the floor, unattached from any plumbing fixtures definitely could NOT be ignored.
The locations where these things happen surprise me more than the fact that they actually occur. The toilet? One of Disney’s finest resorts. The towel? An upscale hotel. I’ve stayed in two and three star hotels that are spotless and found frightening results in some four and five star locations. Granted, it’s rare to run into problems in the higher priced hotels, but it does happen. Plus, I do try to be understanding of the difficulties of keeping a busy hotel up and running, especially if I’m part of a large conference that week. The toilet sitting in the middle of my room, for example, I found quite amusing, as did my friends. And, yes, the front desk found me another room, blaming an oversight in maintenance records.
So, I travel and try to keep my sense of humor. I wash the obligatory glasses in the room (you don’t want to know why) and I wear something on my feet at all times. At least, I’m not as paranoid as one colleague. He traveled with his own sheets and towels, and not only did he remake the bed, but he spread extra sheets over every surface that he might touch: floor, chairs, etc.
Now that’s going a bit overboard, don’t you think?