A Do Not Disturbing Room

, , , , , | Right | April 6, 2020

I work in a hotel. I was put on light duties for a while, despite my protests, due to an unrelated knee injury. So, one morning, my list of rooms consisted mainly of stayovers — people who were staying multiple nights and just needed amenities refilled and a quick spruce — to avoid too much kneeling and crouching. 

As my coworkers and I arrived on the floor we’d been assigned, we all noticed a peculiar and unpleasant smell, but we thought nothing of it, gathering that it was probably just musty towels. Everything was fine until I entered one stayover room, a [Popular Children’s Show] themed room. The first thing I noticed was how difficult the door is to get open. The second thing I noticed was how the worst of the odor was coming from this room. And, when I finally got the door open enough, the third was the sheer mess.

Trash was literally ankle-deep and seemed to consist of towels, take-out, dirty and questionable clothes, cigarette butts, and all manner of other debris. The glass balcony door was coated in finger and handprints and what looked like licking marks too high to be made by a small child. The beds were a complete disaster, and while I never did get to see the bathroom, as it was behind the main door, I was assured it, too, was awful.

I don’t really know how long I stood there, just staring, because I jumped a mile when one of my colleges pulled me away to lean on the wall, one offered me a water bottle, and another ran to fetch the floor supervisor. I remember I was crying, thinking that this was the room that would get me fired, since we had a certain timeframe for each room.

[Supervisor] came to look the room over, whipped out a camera — standard floor supervisor gear, I later gathered — to take pictures, even wading through the garbage to get good shots, and asked the other three to split my board.

He took me to his office down in the basement, and I figured this was it. Now I was crying a bit harder, since I really needed this job. But instead, he had me fill out a report, asked if I’d be comfortable talking to corporate, and let me gather myself together before heading back up to assist with the rooms. He warned me to keep everyone away from that room and alert him when the occupants returned.

An hour later, I saw a family entering the room and collected [Supervisor] from down the hall. He went to meet them, and last I saw, he was escorting them down to the first floor. I wasn’t privy to all the details until I had to speak to corporate, where the questions I was asked put together most of the pieces.

Turns out, they had been at the hotel for all of two days. They’d been smoking inside — which required tampering with the smoke detector — clogged the drains in the bathroom, and had brought in lice and bedbugs on their persons and luggage. They had had “Do Not Disturb” signs on the door before but had neglected it that morning.

I was asked if they could use my report in court, hinting at destruction, child endangerment, and various other charges. The entire room had to be closed off and stripped to sanitize and remodel. The family stoutly refused to pay, which caused a very prolonged case. I do remember asking if it was legal to keep me informed of how things went.

What didn’t take long was the three children involved being removed from the situation by a relative. Why? Because, apparently, the excuse they used for the room being in that state was that “their son was [ableist slur].” That was it. No other reason. They truly believed that they could leave the room a sty without any sort of consequences just because their child had a mental disability.

FYI, folks, that is no excuse to trash a room. And if this is how you leave a hotel, I shudder to think about your home. I’m just relieved that all of the kids are, hopefully, finally someplace safe.

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