Check out macht traurig (engl. Originalversion der Kolumne in der htr vom 08.08.2013)
I think for a while. What words always make me feel as if a cloud has raced over the sun? ‘Check Out,’ I say finally.
‘Check Out?’ Genevieve looks surprised, before deciding I’m making a joke.
On the other hand, ‘Check In’ are two of my favourite words. Just reading them on a hotel website fills me with anticipation. My life can – and probably will – change at 2 pm on a Thursday afternoon, when I take possession of a keycard, revel in fluffy towels and toiletries, hang my clothes in a blissfully uncluttered closet, and lie back with a complimentary mineral water to browse the hotel information booklet.
– ‘A’ is for Aperitif and Atrium Bar
– ‘B’ is for Beauty Centre and Babysitting Service
– ‘C’ is for Check Out…
And at that point my heart sinks. There’s no escaping the knowledge. At 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I will be ejected from this helpful discreet no-stress hotel family and catapulted back into a life where coathangers are wire, drawers are too full, shampoo bottles are empty, no one listens when you say ‘Do Not Disturb’, and on your doorstep there are piles of dead leaves and old plastic bags instead of complimentary newspapers.
The moment I read the words ‘Check Out’, I go back into the bathroom, feeling anxious. Because, if you’re anything like me, five minutes before checking out you’re in a state of chaos. All the clothes you hung up so neatly on arrival are strewn on the floor, receipts are scattered over the room as if a gale has blown through – and your hair is dripping wet.
And then, if you’re anything like me, you realise that you should always, always, travel with your own hairdryer. That monster with the puffing power of an industrial-strength leaf-blower and the roaring heat of the Meltemi winds in Greece in July, blasting your hair bone-dry in just three minutes, leaving you with two minutes to take care of receipts and clothes, close your suitcase and open your door to the maid just as she knocks.
But because your hairdryer weighs as much as a small overfed child, you’ve left it behind. After all, it’s an odd hotel that doesn’t offer ‘hairdryer’ as one of its amenities. But when you check out the bathroom you find one of those hideous plastic boxes attached to the wall, with a sort of tube protruding from it, looking like some antiquated piece of equipment from a dental surgery. When you turn it on, it’s so loud that you’re deaf for the rest of the day but somehow it has zero effect on your hair. After twenty minutes your head is about to explode, while your hair is as wet as when you first stepped out of the shower.
And when you turn the roaring ‘dryer’ off, you find that hotel staff have been knocking angrily at your door for the past twenty minutes, and Reception has been calling to ask if you intend to stay for another day, and you must rush out of your new life with still-wet hair and very hot cheeks, leaving a trail of receipts behind you.
‘Check Out,’ you repeat more assertively to Genevieve. ‘The saddest two words in any language.’