*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
There was a fire. Several families were displaced by the blaze. A young woman who lived on the second floor with her newborn baby narrowly escaped with her life.
The new mom was just nineteen years old. She jumped from a second-floor window with her baby in her arms to evade the fire, injuring her ankle in the process. Besides the sprained ankle, she and her baby were unharmed.
A local charity stepped in and paid for all the families affected by the fire to stay at the hotel where I worked. These were clearly not people accustomed to staying in a hotel.
The folks who had survived the fire took up one entire wing of the second floor of the hotel. They were a bit noisier than our typical guests, but they'd been through a lot.
As I walked down the hallway with my housekeeping cart on the morning after these guests had arrived, my path was blocked with piles of sopping wet towels and plastic bags filled with trash. If guests couldn't run down to the front desk for fresh towels or bring their bags of trash to the trash room at the end of the hall, they usually just left them inside the room for the housekeepers to take care of during our rounds.
Tossing trash and wet towels into the middle of the hallway was something I hadn't seen before.
I wasn't sure which room the towels and trash had come from. So I picked them up and stashed them on my cart.
The next day, it happened again. Towels were scattered along the corridor. Overflowing trash bags leaned against the wall. The hallway was impassable.
As I was cleaning up the mess, the couple with the newborn baby opened the door to their hotel room. The young dad popped his head out. "We put our dirty towels and trash in the hallway. Is that cool?"
"Oh, we'd prefer if you kept things like dirty towels and trash in the room until the housekeeper comes to collect them," I said in my brightest voice. "Or, if you want, you can bring the trash to the trash room." I pointed at the door with the words TRASH ROOM painted on it. And you can bring your wet towels to the front desk, and they will give you clean ones."
He nodded his head.
The next day, the hallway was filled with trash and sopping wet towels again. It continued until they moved out weeks later.
It wasn't just a matter of having a cranky housekeeper, me, not wanting to do more work. Another hotel guest could have tripped over the constant debris in the hallway, and for a couple of guests who were victims of a fire, they sure didn't recognize a fire hazard when they saw one.
What would you have done? Comments are welcome.
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