Andy Rooney once wrote that vacations weren't any better or worse than
your regular everyday life; they're just different. He makes a
lot of sense. When you factor in the hassles of organizing transportation,
scheduling your days, breaking out of your routine and, of course, saving
up the money to take a vacation in the first place, the act of going somewhere
ends up as stressful as ordinary life was in the first place. As much
as we might pretend to like them to be, vacations are not for relaxing;
if we wanted to relax during our time off, I suspect we'd just stay home.
And sleep, probably.
But the best part of any vacation, if you ask me, is the hotel. I just
returned from a business trip in San Francisco -- business trips are a
unique form of travel stress; not
only do you have to deal with everything you ordinarily do on the road,
you also have to work the whole time. Sometimes I'd rather just remain
at my desk -- and I stayed in the storied Hotel Commodore on Sutter Street.
Actually, I have no idea if it's "storied" at all. But any hotel
that's not the Ramada or Hilton anymore claims it's "storied."
In a way, staying in a hotel is every single guy's dream. You can be
a complete and total slob, and no matter how disgusting you are, someone
you don't know will clean it up for you. (It's strangely calming to be
able to pee on the lid without any repercussions.) There is the ridiculous
pipe dream of a beautiful woman knocking on the interconnected door that
nevertheless seems, somehow, possible.
Oh, and you have unlimited access to porn. It makes you understand why
rock stars are always going crazy in hotel rooms. Sometimes I feel like
trashing the place too. Who's there to stop me?
In the spirit of Mr. Rooney himself , a few "whyyy is it
?" observations on hotels.
- Why do people still talk about a mint on your pillow? Maybe I'm just
staying at shitty hotels, but I have never, ever had a mint on my pillow.
I'm not even sure what the point of the mint is. I'm not necessarily
sure, with all the crap maids have to clean out of hotels, I want their
grubby mitts handling my food anyway.
- One thing I learned from my parents: Stealing hotel glasses. I swipe
at least two every time I stay anywhere. I'd say at least 35 percent
of my silverware came directly from hotels. The whiskey glasses are
the best. When I was a kid, Dad used to bring an extra suitcase anytime
we ever stayed in a hotel, and he'd leave with the bag just packed with
stuff... But we weren't white trash, no, not at all.
- Ever have the complimentary continental breakfast? It is an affront
to respectable breakfasts around the world. The last one I went to had
a pile of soggy english muffins with no toaster, milk that came out
in clumps, orange juice that was a strange shade of blue and three miniature
boxes of Frosted Mini-Wheats, two of which were already open. I also
think a package of jelly was moving across the table by itself, threatening
- On those interconnected rooms: Why do they have this? I was woke up
at 3 a.m. my first night to the door handle twisting, and I was protected
from someone seeing my in my boxer shorts only by a rather skimpy lock.
Thinking it might be a naked lady, I groggily walked over to the door,
where I heard a six-year-old kid giggling. Then his mother: "Goddammit,
what the hell are you doing, Josh? Go back to bed." Why do people
have kids again? I think if I become a father, I might gag and tie up
my children every night before sleep. I might even lock them in the
garage. Hey, don't look at me like that. At least I'm not leaving the
car running. (And seriously, somebody tell me why they have these rooms
connected. Is it because they can leave the door unlocked and say it's
a "dual suite" or something? I mean, it's a door.)
- Third paragraph aside, I didn't actually order any porn. I was pretty
proud of myself, truth be told. I felt like a priest who had successfully
completed a life of celibacy. Think about it. I was on my company dime,
with all potential charges posted straight to the room - charged straight
to the company -- and was alone. I could have fallen asleep to porn
every night if I'd wanted to. And yet I didn't succumb, even once. I'm
not sure what I was trying to prove. I suspect in a week, when I'm trying
to decipher a pair of boobs through the fuzzy scrambling of late-night
Cinemax and hoping the New Yorker has a Versace ad in it, I'll
regret missing a quality opportunity.
- I ended up with a non-smoking room, but went ahead and smoked anyway.
Respecting the non-smoking rules in a hotel room is like putting premium
gasoline in a rental car just because the rental agreement "requires"
you do so. Yeah, right.
- When I was checking out, I ran into my maid in the hallway. I was
carrying all my luggage, hadn't shaved or showered and had a cigarette
in my mouth. We made eye contact.
She shook her head. "Did you make a mess in there for me?"
She smiled. I think she was smiling. I hope she was smiling.
With my hands full, I said, "Ahh, nerr, mmmph." My lit cigarette
fell out of my mouth and landed on the hallway carpet. I cringed, apologized
and dropped my bag on the ground to pick up the cigarette. She stopped
"Oh, don't worry. I'll get it." She shrugged and exhaled.
"I always get it." She then brushed past me, unlocked the
door and plowed in, without looking back. And then I checked out and
did the same.
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