My butt pines for my couch. I write this from what may be the nicest hotel room in which I’ve ever slept, watched HBO and flossed my teeth. Yet my butt and several other parts of my body feel morose. My butt and I have spent hundreds of nights in hotel rooms. We spent $3 to stay in the Rancho Motel, next to the railroad tracks outside Bakersfield. The room had no TV or private toilet, but it included amenities such as making your own bed with a woolen blanket from the Korean War. My butt and I have stayed about everywhere else, hanging out with roaches in a converted 11th floor tenement in San Francisco, stocking the room refrigerator with pie and Diet Coke at the DC Marriott, and wandering around the lobby of the Disney Wilderness Lodge under the protection of the 70-foot-tall totem pole. There’s something charming about a hotel room. At the same time, a hotel room differs from my living room in a way that makes my butt and me want to vandalize the place.
I think my butt and I can help the hotel industry. We can reduce the “this room is so unlike home that I want to carve stick figures into the wretched landscape print over the bed” factor. The key lies in amenities. Hotels have added some great amenities over the years, such as wireless internet and cable TV. They’ve replaced the surplus chairs once used by the KGB to interrogate spies. Hotels now have automatic check out, breakfast buffets with little individually-wrapped muffins, and containers of free water with orange slices floating in it. We don’t deny that hotels have accomplished a lot. But things could be better.
For example, refrigerators are a great addition. But come on, when you open your refrigerator at home, how often is it completely empty? Almost never. When you open a hotel refrigerator, you’re exposed to frigid desolation, like Antarctica without the penguins, who look cute but would happily bite you in the crotch if they could. If hotels really wanted you to feel at home, they would put something in the refrigerators, like Oreos and milk. To enhance the homey feel, they might include some bologna and a crusty bottle of ketchup.
Another great amenity would be Valet Plus. When you check into the hotel, you’re probably driving a rental car that would embarrass a Guadalajara taxi driver. Maybe even a Toyota Yaris, which is the worst car I’ve ever driven, so bad that I kept looking on the back of it for the name “Hasbro.” With Valet Plus, the hotel valet would take away your rental car, and when you come back he would have replaced it with a car like the one you own at home. That way you’d know where all of the buttons and dials are, which side of the car the gas cap is on, and how to preset the radio. Or the hotel could provide the option of bringing you a far better car than the one you own, maybe a Mustang convertible or an Eclipse Spyder, which Hertz does rent by the way.
My butt and I don’t know about you, but we have pets at home. In fact, we have a lot of pets, and we miss them when we’re gone. Well, we miss having them lay next to us so we can pet them and hear them make happy grunting sounds. We don’t miss having to feed them and clean up after them, and we don’t miss it when they send a Christmas ornament we’ve had for 30 years shattering to the floor. What’s the solution? We suggest that every hotel have a petting zoo. That way you can pet some rabbits and goats and alpacas as much as you want, and then leave them in the lobby when you’re ready to return to your room and watch Big Bang Theory. You should have the option of bringing a pot bellied pig back to the room with you so it can sleep curled up against your head, if you like that sort of thing.
Hotels have added a number of handy, personal amenities such as coffee makers, blow dryers, and sewing kits. My butt and I have noticed one addition that puzzles us. When we open the closet door in a hotel room, we often find an ironing board hanging on the back of the door. We don’t want to demean unwrinkled clothing, but how often do you go to a hotel and really, really need to iron? Ironing boards just take up space that could be used for something more useful. Just imagine that you open that closet door to put away your jacket and instead find a complimentary ninja hanging from the back of the door. That is a useful amenity. We admit that we don’t have a ninja at home, and you may not either, but the complimentary ninja’s utility is undeniable. You can send him to business meetings to intimidate your customers and coworkers, leaving you free to go to the movies. He can infiltrate a nice restaurant and steal the most expensive meal for you, bringing it back so you can eat it in the peace of your room’s almost-comfortable armchair. And he can fade into the shadows outside your room at night to assassinate any unruly children shrieking down the hallway. We would go out of our way to make reservations at any hotel providing a complimentary ninja.
Finally, we’ll address the most annoying of all hotel room issues, since it strikes at the soul of what it means to have your own domicile. We refer to undocumented television channel arrangements. We have never stayed in a hotel room in which we could figure out how to switch the TV to a channel we wanted to watch. Many hotels provide no guidance on this at all. Others do provide a list of TV channels on a laminated card, or maybe in a fake leather hotel directory folder, but we have yet to find such a guide that was accurate. For Americans, nothing says “you’re not the master of your own existence” like the inability to find the channel you want to watch. Despite all of the hotel’s efforts to make you feel welcome, this is like a spiked collar they slap on you to remind you that you’re in their home, not yours.
To address this problem, we suggest the Television Caddy. The caddy would stand or crouch just over your right shoulder while you’re watching TV, providing you advice much like a golf caddy. You might say, “I want to watch ski jumping on ESPN2. This laminated piece of paper says that’s channel 41. What do you think?”
The caddy would squint at the TV, glance at the paper, and test the wind coming out of the cheap air conditioning unit under the window. “I think if you try a 41 then you may end up on the Oxygen Channel. Under these conditions I’d go with a 68.”
With the caddy’s help you’d safely hit ESPN2 on channel 68, which wouldn’t be showing ski jumping after all but would instead be covering the World Lumberjack Championship, which is about as good. Now you would feel that life is back under your control.
Do you hear us, hotel industry? You’ve done great work, but you have a long way to go to make us really happy. The first hotels to adopt these amenities, or others such as a Best Buy on every floor and urchins in the courtyard at whom you can hurl pennies, will dominate the market. And now, my butt and I will head downstairs to the spa for our Swedish massage and our anointing with hot oils and myrrh.