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Why We Trash Hotel Rooms (A Situationist Meditation on Homes Away from Home)

1. You (presumably well-socialized reader of a humanities institute blog, you) have left a towel lying on the floor.
2. And you could pick it up, you know?

a. A hum beckons you toward the illuminated bathroom.
b. Ultraviolet would reveal other leavings. Not necessarily yours.

i. Especially on the quilt. (Kick it off!)

ii. Why was it necessary for your remote to be sanitized for your protection?

iii. Did you not hoist the mattress and probe for tiny streaks of blood?

c. This is no place for bedbugs.

i. You checked: you balanced cost, location, and convenience with a website’s rating;

1. Which was ideal: 4.7 out of 5.0, gleaned from a dozen traveler’s tales, high but not suspiciously so, a few nasties fixed forever in the amber of bland consumer satisfaction;
2. Realistic imperfections add value.

ii. A review would mention lenticular bedtime horrors.

1. Who live in colonies and display great cunning and acrobatic ability;
2. Who shimmy hot-water pipes to move between rooms;
3. And leave triple welts behind (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

d. You bolt the door and ponder the posted instructions for escape.

i. And think of beeswax sealed larvae in honeycomb sarcophagi;
ii. And long for signs of life, for scuffs and stains and burned out lightbulbs to replace!
iii. But the merciless blue bathroom light beats down uninterrupted from a fixture far tougher than what you could buy at home. (Industrial!)

1. And you grok roots hidden behind a hotel-shaped crust, the tentacles tickling honeydew cash from aphid you;
2. And your befouled towel lies there still, a white wad blazing on the tiled floor.
3. And so you leave it there and resist the minibar’s temptations and resolve to take a handful of the cellophane wrapped soaps with you too.

Better than kicking in the TV

i. Tempting though that may be.

Why? Because we are creatures of habit and our habits deposit tiny layers. Compelled to grind ourselves into the numb infrastructure sustaining us: why else would teen raiding parties so often scrawl their names on walls?

Or coworkers dress an empty cubicle?
Or Scots, build cairns?
Or the mad finger-paint excrement on the walls of their cells?

A trashed hotel room is a tiny furious epitaph.

James McGirk

James Brandon McGirk is the author of A GRAND THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2015) and AMERICAN OUTLAWS (2014); his work focuses  documentation and place, particularly exploring ideas like homeland, third-culture expatriate communities, travel and tourism using a variety of media, primarily creative nonfiction, video and photography.