Donna McPhail: Column

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I trashed a hotel room the other day. I left towels on the floor, I forgot to "Please ensure the curtain is inside the bath when taking a shower", thereby flooding the bathroom; trays full of half eaten room service orders lay on every available surface and there was a wine glass half full of chardonnay and cigarette ends by the bed. Even by my flat- mates' standards it was disgusting, and she makes the Dingles look like they're suffering from a compulsive cleaning disorder.

When I returned to the hotel a couple of hours later I had to run the gauntlet of appaled chambermaids the entire length of the corridor to my room; at any moment I expected to feel a small bar of complimentary soap hit me on the back of the head.

Not that I consider their revulsion at all unreasonable in theory - I've been unfortunate enough to work as a chambermaid myself, in a scuzzy hotel in Paris. Not only were the clientele unhygenic, but they did it in French. The experience taught me two very important things. Firstly how to say "someone's puked up on the floor in room 24" with a perfect Parisian accent, and secondly (innocent virgin that I was) that for some reason there are people in this world who like to take their clothes off, get into the "69" position and urinate long and hard over both each other and the bed. (I advise anyone booking into a French hotel to check the underside of their mattress for moistness before parting with their francs).

My beef vis-a-vis my own slut-like behaviour is this: by placing the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door knob of a hotel room, a person is saying exactly that, surely? Do not disturb, do not come in, leave me alone ... you get my drift. Messy I may be, but only in secret. Outwardly I'm as house proud as any other good girl from the suburbs. If I had a cleaner I'd make damn sure my house was spotless before she got her grubby mitts anywhere near it. Likewise with hotel rooms; having spent months picking up other peoples' dirty underwear for next to nothing there's no way I'd put anyone else through it.

So why do chambermaids insist on ignoring the very notice that hotels provide for privacy? Is it some kind of challenge? Many a time I've had a cleaning-trolley dolly just barge right into the room at the crack of dawn, not only giving me the fright of my life but condemning them to the very offensive sight of me, drunk and naked and comatose. Putting the safety chain on doesn't stop them either. If a good solid shove from the outside doesn't force it off its screws they simply try to squeeze their extremely small brain through the gap as if to see what they're missing.

If that fails to wake me - and really piss me off - they immediately phone me up from another room to ask me if I'm aware that I've put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on my door. Maybe some reverse psychology is needed; next weekend I'm going to turn the sign over to PLEASE SERVICE MY ROOM - I bet I don't see them for dusters.

Conversely, the one hotel employee I can't get hold of for love nor money is the night porter. Night porters don't like me. This is because they're all men in their fifties or sixties with two main hobbies; growing hair out of every conceivable orifice and despising women who can down a whole bottle of wine on their own and then phone down for another. It's not a man/woman thing, it's a git/lush thing. Lone women are a rare enough sight in hotels as it is - well, if they're not working, if you get my meaning. Sad fact is any woman on her own in a hotel bar is deemed to be working. That's why I order from room service, and that's why I resent being looked at as if I'm not good enough to be paid to have sex. Especially by some crumbly old toss-pot who couldn't afford me if he collected all the old phlegm rattling around in the back of his throat and sold it for genetic experiments. Ha! Have a shite day.

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