Sunday, July 07, 2013

Hotel Pet Peeves

There are commercial pilots who don't spend a generous proportion of their nights in hotels. But given that you're in charge of a machine that goes places, and that you are legally required to sleep, there's a good chance that if you're a pilot, you know about these.

I'll start with lamps. When you're at home you know where the light switches are, even if you still haven't completely memorized which switch in the group of three gets the kitchen and which one gets the porch or something else. When you're in a hotel, you can't be expected to know this, so hotels generally have the switches right on the lamps. I don't think they do this to avoid customer confusion over which light switch does what. I think they do it because it's cheaper to put standing lamps in a room and plug them in than it is to install ceiling lights and wire switches. And perhaps because they realize that if they make it a royal pain in the neck to go around and turn on the lights, fewer guests will do it, and they will save on their electrical bills.

So the switches are on the lamps. The thing with a lamp is that it is always either on or off. If it's off, it is dark, so you have to find its switch in the dark. If it's on, it's bright, so you have to find its switch by staring at a bright orb, or groping with your fingers near a hot surface. Lamp controls can be on the lamp base, anywhere on the cord, the collar where the bulb attaches, or somewhere nearby. You might have to press it, pull it, turn it, slide it, or flick it. Or you may just have to reach inside the fixture and retighten the bulb, because the last user gave up before finding the switch. Or stole the lightbulb. Many of the switches on hotel lamps are perfectly logical ways of turning a light on and off. It's just that by definition you have to operate them in unsatisfactory lighting conditions. I hate the little knobs you have to turn inside the fixture next to the bulbs. Sometimes they only turn one way, and I only figure that out after trying to push them. I can't imagine what they're like for the arachnophobic. (I quite like spiders myself. The other day I accidentally vacuumed one up and felt so badly I turned off the vacuum and left it there for a week so the spider could find its way out if it was okay. I'm pleased to report it's back at work building webs. Or at least this spider looks a lot like the first one).

Then there are design decisions made in bathrooms. I guess they aren't decisions. No one would decide. "I think a user of this bathroom should either have to squeeze under the towel rack in order to close the door, or have to straddle the door while sitting on the toilet in order to not have the door bang her in the knees." Or "it would be fun if you have to decide how much toilet paper you will need before sitting down, so let's put the toilet paper dispenser somewhere you can't reach it from the toilet." I stayed recently in a hotel with a beautifully renovated bathroom that had no place for amenities in the shower whatsoever. Being tall, I managed to balance a bar of soap on top of the shower head, but shampoo, conditioner, nowhere to put them. I think that was also the hotel that had a fancy little console in the desk with 110V AC, USB chargers and an iPod dock--but the telephone was next to the bed with a cord too short to reach the desk.

I should stop whining. My apologies to pilots who spend their official rest in ATCO trailers or primitive bivouacs, and who would kill for a lamp, shower or flush toilet. And I hope everyone in flooded areas--this week it's Calgary, but it maybe somewhere else when this posts--soon has a dry place to sleep, and gets to turn their lamps on.

7 comments:

Curious Chemeng said...

Or when the dry towel storage rack is inside the shower. I still haven't figured that one out.

Cedarglen said...

Great post! I can deal with the various switches; my lamp peeve is the tiny bulbs that even 'good' hotels use in some attempt to save a little electricity. Even in fixtures lighting a desk or reading lamp, I find those stupid 12-20 watt bulbs. A fucking candle produces more light! For several years, I've been packing two hefty output light bulbs in my kit. It is a waste of space, of my time t o swap them in (and out) but if I expect to see well enough to work or read it is necessary. We do what is necessary...

Anonymous said...

How about hotel clock radios? Many have user interfaces that are completely opaque. After being awakened by loud punk rock at 0300 a few times, one of the first things I do upon entering a hotel room is unplug the thing or pull its battery, or both.

Jump154 said...

Hotels with floor lamps, that also have light switch operated power receptacles. All good - you can turn off the light from the switch next to the door and once next to the bed. The downside - they often control more than one outlet, meaning I (or the maid) have turned off my fridge which made for a nasty shock making tea the next morning...

majroj said...

Stop with the right-on posts already, my neck's getting repetitive motion injury from nodding.

The kit I assembled in the early Nineties for setting up ops in an abandoned building (ask me sometime) helped in these silly motel and rooms and billets too. It fit in a second-hand messenger bag with much space to spare (for food) and had much of the ingredients listed above plus tiny reliable replacements for a modular phone, clock, radio, etc.

Nowadays all you need is your smartphone I guess, and a means of recharging it both on house current and in your vehicles.

PS: If you are staying any length of time, ask the housekeepers what they like least about guests, then conform to that for superior service. I learned from many such folks they hate having to bend down ANY more than they have to, and they hate entering a completely dark room (leave on a light or open the curtains).

Shoshanna Wilson-Cotham said...

Personally I always enjoyed my towel racks really low and right above the toilet where I was forced to make the decision to sit on the edge with fear of peeing on my feet or using the sink... decisions.. decisions..

Shoshanna Wilson-Cotham said...

Personally I always enjoyed my towel racks really low and right above the toilet where I was forced to make the decision to sit on the edge with fear of peeing on my feet or using the sink... decisions.. decisions..