Traveler's Tales

Push My Buttons

by James Ledbetter

A few years ago at a San Francisco dinner party, the table was discussing hotel gross-out stories. You know the ones: Some newsy TV show brings an ultraviolet light into a hotel room to show disgusting stains on the bedspread, or an undercover video camera catches a maid wiping bathroom glasses with a nasty-looking rag.

My friend Whitney said that the first thing she does when she checks into a hotel is wash the TV remote control. “You never know what kind of disgusting person was using it to watch porn,” she said. “And you know they never clean them.”

This struck me at the time as funny and a little extreme — why not the clock radio or the phone? But it’s stayed with me and, sure enough, on a recent stay at a Holiday Inn Express in Abilene, Kansas (which was overrun by a convention of greyhound breeders), I noticed that the TV remote was shiny white-and-teal instead of the usual black. It stood proudly in a little cardboard caddy labeled Clean Remote, which boasted that it was "designed to make it easy for our staff to clean and disinfect properly.”

This could be a tacit admission that in the past staff didn’t clean them. And it just goes to show that one woman’s neurosis is another man’s market opportunity.