Marolt: Sensing the perception of hazardous travel
October 29, 2014
He handed me the keys and I gave him a tip and then instantly couldn't decide if I wanted it back. Not that it would have made the situation better. It would have made it more awkward. Nothing but a spritz of Lysol or lighting a match could have helped.
I'm sure he wasn't being malicious. I'd been in and out for the past couple of days, emptying my wallet of ones each time I left. I tip when I leave, but not when I return. I figure picking it up is when you need the best service. I don't think he would have turned so red in the cheeks if he was intentionally sending a message.
Valet parking at a downtown hotel isn't a right or a privilege. It's pretty much unavoidable and, thus, usually expensive to begin with. I figure if everyone gave them a couple of bucks each time they fetched a vehicle, it'd probably grow into a decent wad by the end of the day. My point is that I'm at least thinking about this stuff; trying to figure out how to do my part to keep the machine oiled enough not to get myself deemed sediment in the oil pan worthy of passive aggressive amelioration from the staff. I've lived in a tourist town long enough to know that when it comes to making demands on people whose job it is to help you, usually less results in more.
I suppose what happened with the valet parking would be something like a server or cook accidentally sneezing on your plate. Chances are, though, you would never know if that happened. Even if you eventually came down with a cold, you most likely would never figure out where it came from. It's enough to ignite that almost great philosophical discussion: If mucus flies in the kitchen and there are no diners there to see where it lands, is it disgusting? See no vile. Hear no vile. Taste no vile.
It might seem a little like a Band-Aid in the swimming pool, too. That's usually enough to make me get out of the water. But, a pool isn't generally considered private space so, if you choose to dip, you assume the risk, and, if you assume the risk, a floating Band-Aid here or there might not even be the biggest risk to consider. On second thought, I'm certain it isn't. Chlorine isn't in there to make your swim more enjoyable; it's there to make sure you survive it.
Talking about the inadvertency of offenses like these, I read a study a while back about urine in swimming pools. Somebody tested water samples and found over a fairly large sample that strictly adult swimming pools generally had a higher concentration of urine than toddler wading pools. My guess is it would have been highest where there was poolside bar service handy, but the test wasn't that specific. What starts in a Vegas margarita pitcher apparently stays in a Vegas swimming pool.
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I guess the closest thing to what happened with the valet would be finding a hair in your food. It's super gross when it happens, but not so bad when you think about it. I haven't read any studies, but my guess is that hair isn't that dirty. People spend way too much on hair product and fuss with it too long and too often for it to be that filthy. Think where people's hands go compared with their hair. Have you noticed how many people leave public bathroom stalls and bypass the sink on their way out? Now, would you prefer their fingers or hair in your food? Yeah, I know, I'd choose the fingers, too, but it doesn't make sanitary sense.
I suppose there's no reason at all talking about hotel pillows, linens or towels. It all gets washed over and over and over again after all those uses and with a good dose of chlorine in the washer. Compared to carpeted floors in health club locker rooms, those items are immaculately clean.
OK, so a guy cuts one as he's driving your rental car out of the garage and it's a little worse than he thought it would be and he wasn't expecting you to be right there eager to get in and get going. It happens in airplanes, buses and trains. It happens in theaters, churches and stadiums. We've all survived such incidences, as well as committed the assaults on public olfactory sense, no matter how vehemently we denied it at the times of the crimes. No harm, no … OK, I'll leave well enough alone.
Roger Marolt knows you can't think too hard about the communal experiment that travel is. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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