Well this is not the blog post I was expecting to make. Nor are these the pictures I was expecting to upload.
Background: I am in Portland (actually Beaverton now, all will become clear in time) and the purpose for my trip 2000 miles out here from Michigan was to look for a house for my family to rent. Looking for a house is plenty hard enough without having to go through what I have just gone through in the last couple of hours.
So after a hard day of stressing out about what houses were available in what time frame at what price in what neighborhood etc etc, I came back to the hotel hoping to get some sleep so I could get started early in the morning making calls and driving out to neighborhoods to check out the potential houses.
Something I have started doing lately every time I stay at a hotel is check for bed bugs. Apparently there's a big resurgence in the population lately, and we had a bad experience once with a hotel that was swarming with them. But I'll come back to that.
Anyway, one good way to check for bedbugs is to strip the sheets off and check in all the corners of the mattress and under it, and around the edges of the headboard and other parts of the bed. The little guys crawl into spots to hide, and will sometimes leave little black poo markings on the way, so those can be a good indicator that there's a problem.
Anyway, the hotel I was staying at last night, which was the Budgetlodge at 9th and E Burnside in Portland was not real clean. Yeah I was cheap and just got the first thing that I could find that looked reasonable and inexpensive and hoped for the best. I was a little disappointed when I got there and the place stunk like pee, but even that was manageable.
Tonight (yesterday?) while checking for bedbugs I found a dealbreaker under the mattress. No, there were no bed bugs that I could find. I did find this though:
Those look like hypodermic needles don't they? Yes, I think they are! What a surprise! And I bet diabetics don't hide the needles in the mattress when they're finished.
When I saw that little baggie my first thought was "Oh no! Someone left their porn here!" And my second thought was "I should cover this back up and pretend I didn't see it!" But I figured I would never be able to get to sleep without opening the bag and finding out what the hell it was that I was sleeping on top of.
So I did. Gingerly, tenderly, carefully I untied the bag to reveal the secret treasure.
You know I fully accept that maybe I'm blowing this totally out of proportion at this point. And that was kind of my thought, after I dumped out the sharps onto the end table and shot a bunch of photographs of them. So I just walked away for a while. I went down to a bar down the road and had a couple of beers. I tried to rationalize and calm down and just relax. But I was still so very angry. I just couldn't get it out of my head how shocked and appalled I was.
OK so after I tried walking it off I decided to come back to the hotel, back all my stuff into the rental car and just try and get my money back and some sympathy from the front clerk, and some sort of compensation, whether it were a new room in another hotel or anything really. I did not get any of these things.
The clerk on duty at this time was Phil. Phil seemed pretty annoyed at my intrusion. "There's a problem with my room, I need to check out." I said. "*Sigh* what's the problem with the room?" He said all annoyed.
"Well." And I admit I was pretty snippy and angry and assholish. "Here, let me show you what I found under my mattress." and I showed him the photos (still on the camera's tiny LCD screen)
Phil squinted and looked and puffed and huffed, and said he couldn't tell what he was looking at. I tried showing him a couple of different ones. He said one definitely looked like some hypodermic needles.
I told him that was pretty crazy and that I wasn't staying there again, and asked him what he can do for me. He said nothing, and that I would have to speak to a manager, and that the next time a manager would be in would be at 9am tomorrow. I told him to call the manager. He said it was too late and that he couldn't do that. I told him well how about I call the police? He said to go ahead and call the police and that they would just say they couldn't do anything and that it was a civil matter.
He said something about how you can even find needles and bed bugs and all that in 5 star hotels and blah blah blah. I told him oh yes, I definitely have found bed bugs in nice hotels.
At this point I was pretty much beyond upset. "You know," I said. "You haven't even apologized to me."
"Oh I see," he laughed. "Is this a test? You're testing me?" I pretty much lost control verbally at this point and told him to fuck off or something like that. I'm not sorry about that, I was pretty upset. I couldn't take any more and left to go sit in the rental car, and he yelled something out about "Oh now you can apologize to me for saying 'fuck you'!" Feh. So I fled that horrible nasty pee smelling syphilis dart factory, and came out to the suburb of Beaverton, and checked into a room that costs not quite twice what the bed of needles did.
I should say something here about how I don't think that heroin is evil, and that it really just makes me sad that junkies have to coop up in pee smelling hotels and do that crap and hide it, rather than get the help they need.
So back to the thing about bed bugs. We once found bed bugs, at a hotel that we stayed in that will remain nameless. They remain nameless because they handled the situation correctly, unlike how Phil reacted to the whole thing. When I reported bed bugs the clerk on duty immediately apologized and was horrified and said she would arrange to have the rooms at no charge. She compensated us over and above what I had expected, called me a couple days later to let me know they had a guy out and were fumigating. And while that didn't make the creepy crawly feeling go away, it still made me feel good that I was treated as a valuable guest.
Anyway. Yeah Phil, at the Travelodge in Portland at 9th and E. Burnside. I guess maybe there was a test. You did totally fail it. And now I have to deal with going back to your shitty little hotel to argue with your manager about not charging my credit card instead of calling property managers about renting a house for my family. And now I'm not even sure if this shitty little town full of smack is the right fit for my family.
UPDATE 7/11/2009: OK this morning I spoke with Mr Karia, the manager of the Thriftlodge (I incorrectly called it the Budgetlodge, I've fixed that.) He said they've cancelled any charges and nothing should appear on my bank statement. I thanked him for that and asked what else he could do for me. He said there wasn't anything else he could do. I told him that I had to find something at the last minute and he should cover the difference in cost for my room that doesn't smell like pee or have needles in it. He told me that was my decision to go elsewhere and that he didn't make me do that, so he wasn't going to pay up.
I said that didn't make me feel very good about my whole experience, and asked who his manager was. He said he was the only manager and the owner of the establishment. Then he asked me where I found the needles. I told him under the mattress. "Why were you looking under the mattress?" He says. I told him about the bed bugs thing, and he brushed it off, making the excuse that it was standard industry policy to not check under the mattresses and to only change them every 6 months. I told him I didn't care and didn't like the way I was being treated, and none of his excuses made me feel better about any of this.
So I guess that's it. I should be happy that I at least won't be charged for the one night I almost slept there, but I really feel that I was inconvenienced quite a bit and will definitely never stay in another Travelodge or any related hotel again. What a miserable experience. I really hope that someone with some clout notices this and tears down that crappy building. It's really an embarrassment to Portland.
After a night's rest, and clearer thinking about the whole escapade I've decided that I'm not ready to give up on Portland itself, and that I will just try to be more careful.
Anyway, I've submitted a feedback form on the Travelodge website, pointing to this post, but I don't know if that will go anywhere that matters. Now I have to go back to look for more houses and find a place to live.
UPDATE 7/13/2009: Consumerist picked up the story the other day. Have been too busy to update until now. Thanks for all the comments! I appreciate all the insight, including (especially) ones who point out that I was just being a big spaz, and offer other constructive criticism.. So yeah after a nights rest and a meal and a shower I felt better about the whole situation. Still, that place sucks and I stand by that. Lesson learned.
If you don't agree with me, do feel free to leave a comment. But don't be a troll. Unhelpful and non constructive comments will just get deleted.