I’m a big fan of Mark Hurst and his This Is Broken website. But today’s
entry, to me, speaks much more about the ridiculous level of American self-entitlement
than it does about bad design. Hurst stayed at the Marriot
Monterey, a big hotel in a part of California which is both environmentally
fragile and evironmentally aware. Hurst’s complaint?
At the Marriott Monterey…
… the only way I can finagle new sheets every day, in this $200+/night hotel,
(a) read the card and
(b) remember to put the card on my pillow every morning.
Otherwise they reserve the right to give me the same sheets each day.
(If they’re saving water as a result, shouldn’t they give me a price break?)
The language about the price of the room (which seems utterly normal for this
kind of hotel in this kind of location to me), along with the language about
wanting a "price break" for the water they’re saving, makes it clear
that Mark thinks this is a cost issue: that the main incentive here is to save
money. The idea that saving water and electricity might be a good thing anyway
doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind.
I don’t know Mark very well, but I’ve met him a couple of times, and he certainly
doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who changes his sheets every day at
home. (Does anybody do that? Donald Trump, maybe?) In fact, I daresay
that if I told him that I changed my sheets every day, he’d think me
very wasteful, and/or obsessive-compulsive to a point nearing outright mental
illness. So why does he seem to think that any halfways-decent hotel should
change his sheets automatically?
Obviously, if sheets are dirty, they should be cleaned. If a guest requests
new sheets, he should get them. And new guests get new sheets, always. But I
see no reason for a hotel guest to expect a level of wastefulness and environmental
unfriendliness which would be outright shocking to most Europeans.
Let’s just think of everything that Mark is expecting on a daily basis as a
default setting here. The bed to be stripped, and all sheets (used once) to
be scrumpled up into the laundry. Then the sheets from hundreds of hotel rooms
to be washed – a massive operation, involving vast amounts of water, electricity,
and nasty bleach. Then all those sheets to be dried, and folded, and stored,
and then made into new beds. Never mind the cost of the water, how much labour
does Mark think all this involves? How much does he think a reasonable wage
is? Why does he feel that he is entitled to all this? Because he’s paying $200
a night for a room in a full-service hotel in one of the most expensive parts
of the world?
Different places have different levels of environmental consciousness. Britain
is somewhere between Germany and California; California is somewhere between
Britain and New York. If Mark goes to a hotel in Germany, he won’t find the
hotel apologising for not changing his sheets every day, because the hotel doesn’t
think that’s anything to apologise for. They won’t change his sheets unless
they’re dirty, and he won’t notice or care. And that’s not broken: that’s as
it should be. And Mark needs to get over himself.