by Kevin Burton
Checked into the Hampton Inn in Sioux Falls on a Monday, settled into our room. One thing was missing.
We were two days into a much-needed vacation and having a great time, ready to watch the Chiefs-Raiders game on Monday Night Football.
The room was nice, lots of space with a living room of sorts separated from the bedroom. Even the bathroom had two distinct areas, the shower and commode part and the mirror and sink and closet part. The TV was mounted on a swiveling stand so you could watch it from the living room area or from the bedroom.
But as things stood at 5:30 on that Monday we couldn’t watch TV at all, because there was no remote control in the room.
This was a first. I have certainly had to search for a remote before, but never have I been given a room with no remote control at all.
So we went down to the front desk, spoke to the clerk and told her there was no remote in the room. She proceeded to tell us where the remote usually is located in a hotel room.
I am famously bad at looking at someone and guessing how old they are, so maybe I’m wrong. But I’m going to guess that I have been checking into hotel rooms and locating remote control devices for longer than she has been alive.
She gave us a remote that didn’t work. We returned to the front desk and got one that did. Day saved.
But no remote control? How could this happen?
The previous couple blessed with room 425 – we’ll call them John and Marsha – were having a little disagreement over what to watch on TV.
John wanted to watch ESPN, to the exasperation of his wife, because he always watched ESPN. Just this once couldn’t they watch something, anything, else? They were on vacation for goodness’ sake!
As John busied himself arranging his clothes, searching for restaurants on his smartphone (everybody has a smartphone), she flipped over to Animal Planet, then Food Network. Marsha made a note to try that 23-ingredient soup recipe when they got home, maybe cutting it down to seven or eight.
When John returned, he noticed that Marsha had changed the channel and was wrapped up in some food show, taking notes of all things. He was mildly irritated, but soon enough she was distracted and looking though tourism magazines and pamphlets. He turned the baseball playoff game back on and sighed.
John relinquished control when he fell asleep during the fifth pitching change and then Marsha watched a movie.
This clicker warfare continued until on the last night John turned the TV off and packed the clicker in his briefcase, reasoning correctly that Marsha would never find it there. On checkout day they didn’t watch or think about TV, and the remote traveled home to Toledo with them.
This left the Burtons in danger of missing Monday Night Football.
Not buying it? Not plausible? OK try this on for size:
One of the housekeepers – we’ll call her Stormi Knight – cleaned the bathroom of room 425, fluffed the pillows, replaced the coffee packets, the regular and the decaf, and checked her watch.
It was 1 o’clock, not shift change, not time for lunch, but time for her favorite soap opera Keepers of the Dawn.
She didn’t love her job, but she did love her children. So she put up with arrogant managers and hotel guests who looked past her as if she weren’t there.
She would put up with long hours and low pay, but that didn’t mean she had to miss her soaps!
Who was ever going to know or care? She would do her job, clean the rooms, on task and unnoticed. But she would take the remote from the first room and keep it on her because you never knew where people would put them. You never knew if guests would notice and object, if the remote wasn’t left where they had it.
She would bring her own remote, click on the show, do her cleaning then wait for a commercial. She would move on to the next room, and the next, careful to turn the TV off before leaving.
Was the mayor’s daughter pregnant or not? If so, who was the father? Stormi would do her job all right. But she’d go home having satisfied her need to know, daytime fiction, keeping boredom at bay.
At the end of her shift, she would slip the remote behind the toilet paper in the supply closet, leaving the visitors from Kansas in the lurch.
Ridiculous you say? Well if you have a better explanation, I’m all ears.