I don’t like bugs, and by that, I mean all kinds of bugs. Bugs give me the creeps, even the supposedly cutesy kind like the ladybug. Irrational or not, I suspect I have some sort of phobia around bugs and insects. So when I travel, I’d prefer not to see them, least of all in the hotel room. I am grateful that I have yet to encounter a bed bug scenario in my travels.
A Close Encounter?
Earlier this year, I stayed at a large chain hotel on the outskirts of New York, which will remain unnamed. My Dad, who had been seeing more bed bug stories in the news, cautioned that I should check for bed bugs when I get to the hotel. I said I would.
We booked two (connecting) rooms. When I got to the room, I did my usual inspection to make sure nothing is amiss (i.e. flush-able toilet, working faucet) and then a cursory inspections under the bed, behind the headboard, and then under the covers. I was impressed by the hotel. Everything seemed to be well kept and clean. No signs of bed bugs. No shenanigans whatsoever.
I had started to say, “See? No bugs…” when I picked up one of the white pillows to adjust it higher. And smack on the bed hiding under the pillow was a medium sized bug, black against the white sheets, a few centimeters long and with many legs.
I shrieked. Did I say I really hate bugs already? I have no idea what kind of bug it is, but I really don’t care to know either.
To The Rescue
My fellow companions came to see what the fuss is about and one of them promptly took care of the issue. But, it’s sight I can’t un-see; that thing was on my bed under the pillow.
“Crap”, I said aloud, “There’s no way I could get a good night sleep now.”
A lot of other thoughts ran through my head.
“Do I need to switch rooms?”, quickly countered by, “It’s late and some of us had already settled in.” Also, “there’s no guarantee a new room won’t have bugs either.”
My mind briefly went into overdrive for a split second and I even thought, “If there is one bug, they may be more…” And then an even more disturbing thought, “What happens if a bug crawls into your ear while you’re sleeping?” Eeeeek!
My dear sister, whom I was rooming with that night, must have sensed how bothered I was at that moment. She reluctantly offered to switch her bed with mine. I was grateful and promised to do another inspection on all the beds. I also resolved to switch rooms if I find anything else.
Fortunately, I found no other bugs, so we settled in for the night.
At checkout the next day, I let the staff know about my encounter in a casual conversation and they were empathetic. Just to be clear, I don’t blame the hotel, per se. Bugs are a natural part of the ecosystem, so I don’t expect a bug-free zone. However, it’s one thing if the bug is on the wall or near windows. It’s something else altogether if it’s under the pillow. It’s actually quite an unpleasant discovery for guests to find bugs that way.
I wanted the staff to know in hopes that maybe their housekeeping could be more vigilant about keeping those crawlers at bay and off the beds.
Morals of the story
I think I have the best sister in the world.
You don’t think finding bugs in a hotel could happen to you, but it can – even in a good quality hotel.
Obviously, my advice is to try not get too paranoid — this coming from someone who probably will be checking under all the hotel pillows from here on out. That said, it’s probably a really good idea to always inspect for bed bugs (or any type of bugs) before you settle into a hotel room.
You really don’t want to get settled in, only to later find a bug hanging out with you on your bed. Trust me, that’s a surefire way to ruin a good night’s sleep.
Are you bothered by bugs? Or would you rather not inspect and find out?