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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Travel Diary of a Germaphobe

I totally get the idea behind placing a phone in the hotel bathroom within easy reach of the toilet. I mean, Murphy's Law dictates that no matter how long one has waited for that important call from the concierge confirming the arrival of a business associate, the phone in the hotel room will only ring once the plane is well on its way down the runway and aborting take-off is no longer an option (like the way I've kept the metaphor within the travel genre?).

With that said, I can't possibly be the only one who has considered the logistic difficulties of cleaning this convenient commode-side handset (that is, if they even try!), right? Right?!

Make no mistake, my company usually books me into the most posh (and secure) properties in whatever city I am visiting. But yesterday (Shabbat), I was stuck in the room with nothing to do but read and snack on complimentary hotel fruit and blueberry muffins that Zahave packed for me.

So when housekeeping showed up and asked if they could tidy up the room, I asked them if they minded if I stayed put on the comfy sofa in front of the window while they did the room.

They were very accommodating and even asked if they could order up an assortment of local newspapers for me (I accepted gratefully).

It was only once the two women began cleaning the bathroom that I decided to check if my suspicions were correct. This was accomplished via the full wall glass window that divided the bathroom from the sleeping and work areas (for the curious, there is a mechanized privacy shade that can be lowered in case more than one person is in residence and either of them possesses even a shred of shame).

Sure enough, the two women went about scrubbing, bleaching, disinfecting and polishing every last surface in the bathroom... except the telephone.

In fact, not only did they not make even a token effort to clean the phone, one of them noticed that a previous guest had left the cord a bit tangled, so she picked up the handset with the rubber glove she was wearing to protect her skin from whatever chemicals (and pathogens), were in the toilet bowl she had just been scrubbing, and carefully untwisted it and replaced the handset in the cradle so that the now-tangle-free cord was wrapped neatly around the rest of the phone body and well above the floor.

After the last of their chores was completed and fresh flowers and fruit had been placed in the vase and bowls (this time, thankfully without the rubber gloves), one of the women handed me the bundle of Indian newspapers that had been delivered at their request and asked if there was anything else they could help with.

I was tempted to ask about the phone, but I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get the question out past the spasm of dry-heaves that was now convulsing my body. I just smiled and shook my head.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is skieved out by this.

As an afterthought, I'd also be curious to know if anyone else out there travels with a bottle of Purell alcohol hand sanitizer in their carry-on?

Posted by David Bogner on March 27, 2016 | Permalink

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Yup. I do. And I have been known to -- ahem -- clean certain fixtures in public restrooms before using them. I've developed a way to do that without touching the surfaces directly. Once that's done, I feel I can use them with peace of mind.

Posted by: Rahel | Mar 27, 2016 9:46:50 AM

Do you remember Douglas Adams' hitch hiker trilogy?

Do you remember the spaceship wherein Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent met the captain with the clawfoot tub?

Do you remember that among his passengers were all of their original planet's telephone sanitizers?

Do you remember that their original planet's population was destroyed by a plague spread through unsanitized telephones?

It makes perfect sense to carry Purell if you are traveling from Israel.

But I tend to fly out of the US, where carrying Gels onto an airplane makes you a terrorist.

Because the TSA would NEVER think to ask a sensible question like "do you plan to blow up the plane?"

Now you know to sanitize the phone.

Posted by: Rich | Mar 28, 2016 4:30:20 AM

That phone is perfectly positioned. It is impossible to imagine any spray or remnants falling upon it. Why not test it out by placing it against your face. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Mar 29, 2016 6:41:26 PM

It's certainly true that flushing the toilet sends up a plume of aerosols, and the first thing I do is buy a spray can of disinfectant, hopefully less perfumed, and depopulate the telephone.

Speaking of those sanitary rubber gloves, I once watched a be-gloved waiter wiping their nose with their sanitary rubber glove.

Posted by: Eliezer Eisenberg | Apr 6, 2016 11:22:47 PM

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