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Jewish World Review
Nov. 20, 2008
/ 22 Mar-Cheshvan 5769
Hotels go for the green
Whenever I stay in a hotel, I always keep an eye out for any new wrinkles the hospitality industry has come up with to better serve the weary traveler. Also bedbugs. One of my all-time favorite innovations has to be the "Sanitized for your protection" paper sash that hotels often drape across their rooms' commodes. Because only an establishment with the greatest confidence in its product can adorn the bathroom with a piece of paper that says, essentially, "You will not get herpes from this toilet seat."
More recently, many hotels have been trying to "go green" by adopting eco-friendly policies. Or, to be more precise, hotels have started requesting that guests "do their part" to conserve water and electricity by reusing towels and sheets. I, for one, applaud hotels for taking this brave pro-environment stance, even in the face of the very real risk that they stand to save millions of dollars in laundry expenses. Of course, the hotels would be glad to pass those savings on to those of us doing the actual conserving, but then we might not feel the same sense of pride at saving mother earth when drying ourselves with damp, soiled towels.
Some might say that environmental activism is, in fact, nothing new for the hospitality industry. Specifically, they can point to noted hotel heiress Paris Hilton, who has not only long insisted on using only low-wattage bulbs to light her home sex videos, but also has always raised awareness about the imminent threat of Global Warming through her signature catch phrase, "That's hot."
Still, I can't help but wonder if this appeal to hotel customers' altruism to reduce water use is having much impact. After all, "selfless" is not a word that springs to mind to describe most hotel guests' attitude toward room upkeep. Frankly, considering the virtual Superfund site of piled up trash, broken glass, stained towels, used syringes, partial animal carcasses and god knows what else the average guest leaves behind, hotels are usually appreciative if customers remember to put out any actively burning fires in the room before checking out.
This treatment also extends to our rental cars, often with even more disgusting results because we have to pack the same volume of filth into a much more compact space. But I think this is just our way of getting back at the rental car companies for trying to trick us into buying enough insurance to cover a fleet of Fallujah cab drivers.
Rental car agent: "Would you like to purchase the optional, but recommended, collision damage waiver? No? Initial that you decline here. How about coverage for accidents with uninsured drivers? No? Initial here. Coverage against vehicle theft? No? Damage from falling rocks, tree branches or other debris? Vehicle immersed in water? What if the car is commandeered by the authorities to pursue bank robbery suspects? Vehicle left behind during the Rapture while you spontaneously ascend to heaven? Initial here, here and here, and sign here in your own blood, please."
But it's not lost on customers that while rental car companies won't let you drive off the lot without first confirming that the car's exterior has no dings, dents, scratches, dried bird droppings or a single suspicious fingerprint, they make no similar demands regarding the car's inside. As a result, for the duration of your rental, the car's interior becomes a combination garbage receptacle, ashtray, spittoon, nose-wiping station, urinal and, well, let's just say that, "What happens in Vegas, stains in Vegas."
With this kind of customer behavior as the norm, you really do have to admire the hotels' moxie in expecting to persuade guests, out of concern for the environment, to voluntarily forego laundry services they're paying for. In fact, I'm so impressed that I've decided to adopt a similar strategy in my own life by using the global ecological crisis as an excuse to get out of all kinds of things I don't want to do.
"A ticket to go with you to see Cousin Enid's lead performance in the upcoming four-hour concert of Mongolian throat-singing? Why Aunt Agnes, you shouldn't have. Now you know how talented I feel Cousin Enid is, and would never put any stock in what those dozen or so reviewers said after her last performance ('screeching' is such a subjective term, anyway). But driving all the way across town to the old VFW hall will consume an awful lot of fossil fuels, so even though I'm a huge fan of all throat-singing, especially the Mongolian variety, these days the earth just has to come first. You understand, of course."
Who could have ever guessed that while all the environmentalists were desperately searching for ways to stop global warming, the hotel industry would actually discover the key to solving our ecological crisis: outright self interest!
JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.
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© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner