Cleanliness and the Queen of Sheba

There are very few chances to go for a serious walk (nor do I desire) with temperatures that reach 104F in mid afternoon.  In order to get in at least a few thousand steps a day I avoid the elevator. It is not working all that well anyways and people wait for a long time. I am usually down faster by foot, taking the 50 or so steps up or down to my fourth floor room each time I go somewhere, for breakfast, for lunch, for swimming or out.

The hotel does not seem to expect its clients to take the stairs – they are hidden behind an ill closing door with a piece of paper taped to it that says ‘emergency exit.’ Clearly, no one expects this to ever be used for that purpose, and if it would be, no one would mind the mess.

The stairs are covered with dark brown ‘moquette;’ a filthy looking floor covering that has not been cleaned in a long time. Staff use this way of connecting between floors to bring food up for room service, or laundry down to be washed, and anything else. I don’t think they are allowed to use the guest elevator and there doesn’t seem to be a freight or staff elevator.

The people who use the stairs have been dropping things like wrappers, beer cans, pieces of paper, parts of equipment, and whatnot for a long time. The filth bothered me, mostly because it is not necessary – there are sweepers and even vacuum cleaners in the hotel. How much effort would it take? I finally decided to say something to the reception desk staff.

That evening when I came back from a visit I noticed a man with a vacuum cleaner on the stairway. There are no receptacles on the stairways (a clue). He had to plug in the long cord in a receptacle in the hallway of the guestrooms. Even the designers of this building obviously didn’t think a receptacle for a vacuum cleaner was needed on the stairways (vacuum cleaners did exist when this hotel was built in the late 80s).

This morning, I walked down immaculate steps, all 50 of them. It made me smile – such a difference to be in a place that is cared for. I told everyone I met on the stairs how happy I was about the clean stairs. They smiled politely but I suspect they probably wondered why that was such a big deal for me.

This hotel is full of things that are like that – neglected and dirty, yet no one seems to notice. I was imagining a walk through with a new owner and pointing out the things I would change (rip up rather), and the list was endless: broken or chipped doors, mildewed walls and floor coverings, cigarette burns on tables, bird poop, paint spots and mildew on the lawn chairs, broken cabinets, paint spots from working without drop cloths, broken faucets, missing toilet seats, missing ceiling tiles, patched up electrical cords, being rerouted across windows or simply dangling, dirty walls, the list goes on and on.

Someone was trying to clean the turquoise outdoor wall this morning, up to the 2nd floor (the brush handle extension didn’t go up further) but it was too late for a simple scrub – it needs a very strong power washer and a new coat of paint. I wondered whether the cleaning was inspired by my request. It was kind of sad to see the good man try but neither he nor I saw much of a difference between the washed and unwashed sections.

On the front of the hotels 4 stars are still showing but one is on its way down and the ‘l’ of the word hotel is gone. If this is a four star hotel I am the Queen of Sheba.

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