Friday, May 25, 2007

On Why My Fear of Hotels Rooms Is Not Unfounded

I feel like I need to describe to you the hotel experience of last weekend so that you don’t just think that I’m a freak.

So we get to the hotel room, and the hallway is very twisty and small and smells like smoke. Right outside our room, the wallpaper is peeling and one of the wall panels is loose. Let me just say that we’ve stayed in this hotel many times before, and it’s always been very clean (as far as hotels go) and presentable. So this seediness was unexpected, and it sort of laid the groundwork for a feeling of uneasiness to creep in.

We get in the room, and thankfully it does not smell like smoke. The floors looked . . . ok, but I wasn’t going to, you know, sit on them or anything. First things first, we decide to check for bed bugs, because you don’t want to wait until the hotel doesn’t have any rooms left or it’s the middle of the night before you discover you just can’t stay there (which is why we always flush the toilet as soon as we get into our hotel room).

So I pull back the covers and peer closely at the mattress. I peered closely because bed bugs are very small. But peering closely at the mattress means you see things you otherwise might not see. I saw quite a few stains, natch, but I also saw . . . stuff. A little dark brown speck of . . . I don’t know what it was. And another one. And a tan . . . something. All very, very small. None of it native to the mattress. And then, because bed bugs are brown, I had to keep looking at the specks to see if they would move. I couldn’t actually prod at them, the classic "dead or alive?" technique, because, gross (ok, I did start to prod one, but then my brain said "AAAHH, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" and my finger said, "oh, yeah, what am I doing? Good call, brain. Don't touch that."). But I did make RR come look at them.

“what’s that?” I asked, pointing.
She looked closely.
“Eeewwww,” she said, and we both felt creeped out. We kind of looked at each other, and I think we both knew that neither of us was really going to be able to relax for the rest of the trip.

That’s when I decided to stop looking so closely. I didn’t see any bed bugs. Or at least, I don’t think I saw any. But what I did see was still pretty scary. And that just reinforced my belief that the hotel maids do not actually clean the rooms as throughly as I would like, and that mattress you are sleeping on is harboring fugitives from the vacuum, unauthorized passengers, stowaways. The previous guests have literally left little pieces of themselves behind, with which you may unwittingly come in contact.

And I think that’s why, spending the next night in my parents' hotel room, I fell into convulsions of hysterical laughter upon discovering the hairs on the sheets of the sofa bed. The mattress had been quite stained, but I didn’t look too closely for any ride-alongs, and just kept telling myself that it would be ok, the sheets would cover the mattress (and I refused to consider the possibility that the sheets weren’t clean or that anything from the mattress could somehow work its way through the sheets). So when I saw the hairs, it was just too much. It was if the hotel was saying to me, you will be exposed to the DNA of the former occupants of this room. Resistance is futile. And it was just so awful that it was funny. I guess.

So my recommendation to you is, look for bed bugs, but don’t look too closely.


jes said...

So: you actually look AT the mattress? I tend to never want to look that close, because I know I'll freak myself out.

Handy tip: carry your own sheet, preferably folded in half length-wise and sewn shut. Except for the opening where you climb in, of course.

RR said...

As we put the sheets on the pull-out bed, I had really, really hoped that you hadn't seen the stains on the mattress because I thought there was no way you would sleep there if you saw them. I guess you're made of sterned stuff that I thought. :)