|Software Projects - why are they hell?
|No need to see...
The temperature of a hotel room is designed to kill. It is either set to the same temperature as Siberian wastelands during the ice age, where the perfectly preserved corpse of a mammoth is stored in the wardrobe, or the room is slightly hotter than the surface of the Sun; your luggage melts as soon as the door is opened.
But it's not enough for the hotel to test your ability to suffer extremes; no, they have to test you psychologically by providing a temperature control that's completely ineffective. It appears to be obeying your instruction; the fan becomes maddeningly loud. Soon you notice that although the air is moving, there is no change in temperature. All you've done is to either increase the wind chill factor, or created your own version of the sirocco, the hot wind that drives men mad.
As you finally enter your hotel room, after having to go back to reception because the first card key didn't work, you see the bed has a note on it, describing the delights of an "evening turndown service". How sad do you have to be to use this? Why would anyone want some poor, underpaid, hotel worker to folder over a bed sheet and place a cheap chocolate on the cover? Why not go the whole hog; get yourself tucked up in bed with a story, a milky drink and a teddy bear?
It's hard to see that the shower curtain wants to kill you. They all look innocent, but after a while you can spot the tell-tale signs of a killer shower curtain; something in the way it hangs; the blank plastic stare...
It's not until you have to use the shower that you realise the true horror. Once the water's on and you step into the bath behind the curtain, it does nothing for a few moments, lulling you into a state of lowered awareness. Suddenly it pounces, attempting to envelop your unprotected body in its plastic, clammy embrace. You're forced backward, into an increasingly narrow gap between the curtain and the tiled bathroom wall. At first panic; flailing limbs, irrational thought. But this is what it wants; you must calm down. You can avoid its grasp - reduce the water pressure and then open the curtain a little. Soon its power will wane and you can survive another day in the hotel room...
I'm always given a hotel room between the insomniac and the sex machines. The person on one side, who spends all night watching obscure sports, played only in Turkestan, while slowly emptying the mini-bar. Then, on the other side are two people whose sole aim is to document an unwritten chapter in the McKinsey report. And always, they are screamers.
If there is no internal noise, then the fallback is a gang of drug dealers, or possibly pimps, carrying on loud negotiations outside your hotel window. How could Leamington Spa host such a den of crack and illicit sex? I don't care; I want to sleep...
Assuming that the silence of the night has been otherwise disturbed, the hotel itself ensures that guests are awakened early. You know; the thump, thump, thump of newspapers being cast to the carpet at 0530 by some porter who is aggrieved at being awake, and wants to make sure that everyone else knows it.
I look forward to hotel breakfasts, a triumph of hope over experience, I know. The only time I allow myself a fry-up; that crispy bacon, succulent sausages, plump white and gold eggs. Ah, harsh reality. You are presented with an array of dried and wilting foodstuffs, some of which could have indeed been bacon, or possibly sausages. Toast is provided by a machine with a strange conveyor belt, except that your toast is stolen while you are trying to attract the attention of one of the arthritic waitresses to order tea, which when it arrives looks like a particularly weak specimen of urine. Tears fill my eyes, I cannot continue...
Breakfasts are bad enough, but they are something it is hard to avoid - where else are you going to eat at that time in the morning? On the other hand, you have to be extremely masochistic to actually eat dinner in a hotel. I suppose they work on the basis of a captive audience, relying on people too tired or unimaginative to go somewhere that actually values food. I admit, in a weakened state I have eaten dinner in hotels. Every time I have regretted it, and sworn on the Gideon bible (helpfully provided in every hotel room) not to repeat this mistake.
The waiters view your entry into the restaurant with all the enthusiasm of a condemned prisoner meeting his executioner. The waiter glumly proffers a menu the size of the bible, but only offers mere variations on steak (gristle, overdone), pizza (too much cheese, too little else) and pasta (micro-waved, the centre still cold).
What's the problem with hotels providing plugs with the sinks? Simple, low tech, easy to replace. But no, all hotels use some kind of complicated lever system which uses a metal plunger to seal the sink. It was probably designed by a Frenchman, the same guy who is responsible for the gear changing mechanism in a Renault 19. And the result of all this high-tech? A sink that leaks, sometime slowly, sometimes so fast that the pressure drop it causes induces a nosebleed.
In order to perform a simple ablution like shaving, the sink requires a continuous stream of hot water to replenish that which is being expelled into the maw of the hotel plumbing system. After two days of watching an endless stream of hot water disappear, I did once complain about a such a useless sink - in the US where I expected they might actually be willing to do something about it. Well, they did; after two hours of banging and swearing by the hotel engineer, I had a sink that leaked only half as fast. After this, I didn't bother to complain any more.
The TV remote doesn't work, but you don't find out until you try and turn the TV on once you are actually in the bed. Well, maybe the TV is powered off. So, you get out of bed, and attempt to figure out how to turn on the TV manually. It seems the TV needs to be power-cycled before the manual program changing buttons on the front panel have any effect. You begin to freeze; certain parts of your body begin to retract. In vain, you try the remote again; even within a centimetre of the infrared sensor, the TV completely ignores input. Well, there was bugger-all on anyway...
The day arrives to leave the hotel. Early in the morning, as a barrage of newspapers are thrown against the hallway carpet, a bill is thrust under your door. Awoken far too early, you are now set up for the day - grumpy and tired. You know the bill is wrong; it's missing today's breakfast and the call to collect your email. With sinking heart you realise you're going to have to queue up at the desk to check out...
I can't blame hotels alone for this, but inexplicably, at peak times, there are the fewest number of staff. Not content with ensuring that only one person is actually assigned to a shift at key times, the hotel also guarantee that the staff member on duty is also (a) a trainee, or (b) weird, or (c) incapable of putting new paper in the printer, which runs out at the peak checkout time (again), and who starts crying as you finally reach the front of the queue.
Hotel pillows have just the wrong plumpness; one is not enough and you end up staring backwards into the headboard, while two are too much - your neck is bent at 180 degrees.
In virtually every hotel I've stayed in, the free end on the loo roll has been carefully folded into a point, as if someone was interrupted while trying to building a paper aeroplane. This ritual must have been handed down for generations of hotel keepers, but it's a complete waste of time. I'm not going to use a piece of loo paper that's been fiddled with by someone who has probably got some terribly skin disease, so it's ripped off and dumped into the bowl. So, a plea to all hotel staff - please don't spend time practising origami on the loo roll; your audience is unappreciative.
|Software Projects - why are they hell?
|No need to see...