Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smoke gets in my... room?

CC license - David Hegarty 
For those of you unlucky enough to actually know me, you know that I am not a smoker, and I really am not partial to the smell of cigarette smoke.
When asked at a restaurant if I want smoking or non-smoking, I would invariably answer with "Non, VERY non" as I wish to taste my food and since a large part of taste is actually smell I want to have clean air to breathe and smell instead of smoke from someone's after dinner burner.

Since I travel a lot I get to spend a lot of time in hotels rooms under various circumstances.  a recent stay underscored the fact that many people, smokers and non-smokers alike, do not understand the ability of cigarette smoke to go where it is not welcome.

I had checked into the hotel over lunch and been assigned a room on the 3rd floor.  When I went to the room to drop off my luggage (and scan for bed bugs) I noticed that the hotel had recently sprayed something in the hallway to mask a scent.  Probably Fabreze or something of that sort.  If I had not been focused on getting back to the client site I might have taken a moment to ponder this observation, but I did not.

After working with the client for the day I headed back, dropped off my stuff, and headed out to dinner.  My nose tried to get my attention, but my stomach was just a bit louder and demanding at that moment so it was ignored again.  (Sometimes my brain really needs to learn to listen to the rest of me more.)  I had a wonderful repast and headed back to the room to start on my mid-term test for my online class.  As I stepped off the elevator I immediately noticed something off... I smelled cigarettes.  Only faintly, but I did smell it none the less. As I sat down to start my 90 minutes test, I found that the scent in my non-smoking room was becoming stronger by the minute.

"How could this be?", I wondered.  I was checked into a non-smoking room and thus should not be smelling cigarette smoke. My test was a timed test and I could not afford to take the time to deal with this situation, so I reached over to the control for the heater and cranked up the fan to blow fresh air on me while I tested (why do they always put the desk right next to the noisiest device in the room?) and went back to failing my test (for a intro course the material was far from intro).

After the test I decided to talk with the front desk and headed out to find out about moving rooms.  As I exited my room I ran smack dab into a cloud of cigarette smoke that I could have cut with a dull butter knife (why use one of my good ones on that stuff?) and stank to high heaven.

A quick review of the rooms on my floor turned up that about 66% were non-smoking, and the rest were smoking rooms, thus the reason for the cloud of smoke in the hallway.  I can just imagine what it would have looked like if one of the smoking rooms suddenly opened their door.

A quick discussion with the front desk had me moving to a room on the second floor, and a revelation that they are in the process of converting all the rooms to non-smoking.  Surprising information to follow... the smoking rooms were not making them much money (they are the last to book) and they have to move people frequently because of the smoking.

My thoughts on all this?  Why do people insist on thinking that cigarette smoke is smart and knows not to cross over through the trellis that separates the smoking and non-smoking areas in a restaurant, or to stay on it's own end of the floor in a hotel?  Why do they assume that telling people to smoke outside is going to keep the smoke from coming in every time someone enters the facility, especially since thy put the smoking area right outside the door? Separation requires physical, impermeable, surfaces like a wall or a door to keep smoke from going through to the other side.

Did you know that the presence of a smoker in a house is a sure guarantee of the early demise of your computer?  That's right, your computer.  Years ago, when I was still working on hardware, we could always tell when a smoker was working at a computer because the scent would be stuck in the plastics, and if you opened the system you had to let it air out.  But unfortunately, computers are also incredible air filters.  If it is in the air,it will be in your computer.  Dust, dirt, bugs, and smoke all settle in there and form a very thick tar-like residue that kills your PC quicker than anything else.  We hated cleaning those computers, it was more work than any other cleaning project we had on a PC.

After that night I had to remind myself to always check if I am on the smoking floor, and too put in a note on my reservation that I do not wish to be on the same floor as smoking rooms.  If it were me, I would be sure to note on the room selection page of hotel sites when the rooms in question are on a smoking floor.

But then nobody asked me. ;)


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