Friday, May 23, 2008

Nasty Hotel Glasses - A True Story

If you watched the expose on dirty hotel glasses that was on the news a few months back, you'll understand my wary attitude towards all things hotel-oriented. Even in 4 star hotels nowadays, we take extra precautions. Hubbs and I wear slippers instead of going barefeet on the carpet. We do not use the glass drinkware in the rooms, and we never sleep on the coverlets or the large decorative pillows that adorn our bed.

However, until about 10 minutes ago, I figured that we were just being overly cautious, and there was in fact nothing to worry about.

I stand corrected.

Last night, while Hubbs was watching a Blue Jays game with his conference-goers, I had ordered up room service, including a bottle of Mike's Hard Cranberry, which came up from the hotel restaurant with a wine glass. Knowing that the restaurant glasses go through an industrial washer, I felt safe in using the wine glass for my booze.

This early afternoon (1:00 p.m.) when I finally left my room, I had left said glass on the desk in the room for the housekeeping staff to take away with them when they cleaned the room.

Imagine my alarm, then, when I returned to the room a mere 2.5 hours later to find the same wine glass, back in my room, with a "Clean" cover over it. I found it hard to believe that the hotel had actually run this wine glass down to the industrial dishwasher in their kitchen or basement, and brought the same glass back up to my room. The more plausible explanation? The housekeeper washed and rinsed my wine glass from last night using soap and lukewarm water from the tap. The latter possibility would not have actually yielded an officially "clean" glass, but one that was probably infested with microorganisms from the sink and the cleaning supplies used by the chambermaid.

I called down to the front desk immediately, hoping that they could provide a more acceptable explanation than my own, which is hardly acceptable at all.

The reception girl forwarded me to her manager, who then explained to me that drinking glasses are only washed in the industrial-strength washers upon check out, or up to 3x/week on certain "wash" days. Housekeepers allegedly keep a bottle of dish detergent on their cart, and they will clean the glasses in the room using the tap water from the bathroom sink and the dish detergent during the other days of the week, particularly if the people in the room are staying there for longer than one night. The manager further explained to me that they also provide wrapped paper cups for those guests who do not wish to use the glassware due to the expose on the news.


I don't know about you, but GROSS!!!!! I can hardly believe that the other drinking glasses in my room are clean now that I know they only go down to be truly "cleaned" a few times a week, at best. How can I possibly know that the glasses in the room were actually replaced with clean ones when I checked in, given the ease with which a housekeeper could simply wash and rinse those same glasses in my sink? How can I know that the wine glass was cleaned with sufficiently hot water and soap so as to remove germs, and what certainty do I have that the glass wasn't cross-contaminated by the bacteria on the hands of the housekeeper who had likely just finished cleaning my toilet or changing my sheets (presuming these were changed at all)?

I can't know, and I have no certainty of any of this. As a result, I refuse to use any glassware from hotel rooms from here on. I'd much rather buy my own glasses or bring my own paper cups. The risk of contracting e.coli or some other nasty germs is a gamble I refuse to wager.

Oh - and this hotel is not some budget hotel either. It is a 4-star property that belongs to a well-known N. American chain. If you wish to find out which hotel I am talking about, just leave me an email addy in the comments and I'll let you know.

I am so disgusted.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Ramblings of an Airporter, or Flying and Finance


So Hubbs and I are presently sitting in the boarding area, awaiting the boarding of our flight to TO. Strangely enough, there are very few people around us. We arrived slightly ahead of the boarding time, so we weren’t expecting major crowds. However, right now I think we are one of 8 people who are waiting for this flight.

Is it that 6:20 in the evening is a poor time to be flying? Could it be that our destination is 2 hours ahead, which means we would be landing at 11:55 at night as opposed to 9:55?

Frankly, I am hoping for an empty flight. The emptier the better, in fact. Hubbs and I love each other, but would prefer a seat between us while we’re traveling. I tend to end up in the middle seat whenever we travel together, and I am very aversive to the elbows and knees of strangers making contact with me. Hubbs, with his own strange issues with flying, prefers the window seat, so I usually have to make one of two choices: sit in the middle seat and be beside him, or sit in my favoured aisle seat and risk having a stranger be stuck between us.

Hubbs is busy typing on his laptop right now, and so the epitome of geekdom might be a picture of the two of us, seated side by side in the airport, both on our respective computers.

While we were waiting in line to clear security, Hubbs had turned to me and suggested that henceforth, we should fly in business class. I believe my first reaction was to laugh. The second, which followed immediately after, was to point out reality to my dear hubby: we’re not made of money and business class costs nearly double (in some cases, more) than economy class.

It does seem, however, that flight prices are on the rise…again. I read somewhere today that certain airlines to the south of us are going to start charging $15/checked bag. Say what?! Must be the rising fuel costs, although if you think about it, if airlines jack up their prices in response to increasing gas prices, won’t that simply cause fewer people to travel by flight, or to travel, period? If fewer folks travel, then many centers that rely on tourism as a source of profit would lose money, and those centers would end up downsizing in many of their service industries, leading to lay offs. That would prevent even more people from being able to afford the luxury of a flight, and the vicious cycle would contribute to the recession that has already begun in the U.S.

Bottom line: screw rising prices. Keep spending, people. I’m no economist, but if everyone kept spending, the flow of currency in society would at the very least reduce the impact of a recessive economy. It might even cause a reversal in the process, and lead the economy to an upturn.

That seems to make sense to me. Does that make sense to you? In any case, we’re heading to TO, and I do plan to spend some cashola while I’m there. Nothing extravagant, but consider it my contribution to a healthy economy ;)

(Written Wednesday)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Canoe-ing - or The Finer Side of Life

Since we are heading to YYZ, Hubbs and I figured that we should go out for at least one nice meal. His schedule, however, is pretty limited, since he is gone literally all day Thursday and until almost 7:00 pm on Friday.

I had the privilege of choosing where we would be dining. After much internet searching and
deliberation, I chose Canoe. This is a posh restaurant located inside the TD Tower on the 54th floor of the building. Though it's not as high as the revolving CN Tower restaurant, this place offers some pretty stunning views of the city and/or the lake near the tower. Canoe has also been rated the top restaurant in TO by my favourite review site - Tripadvisor ;)

I must confess that selecting this place was a little indulgent, even for me. The entrees start at about $40, and the apps start at $17. We may even end up going the route of the tasting menu, simply because it will allow us to try more goods for about the same cost.

Canoe, so I've read, attempts to serve up good ol' Canadian meats and produce. They also try to pair up your delicious fare with appropriate vino.

I'll be likely writing up a review on this once we go. I cannot wait! The only times that Hubbs and I have done the tasting menu thing have been on our engagement night (at Lumiere in Van) and at Tojo's (also in Van). We rarely go to uber-nice restaurants (let's face it, how many really exist in E-town), so this will be a complete treat for us!

I'm so excited I could jump up and down and clap!!! Whee!!!!

Eye Wish


This has not been a very healthy season for us. First it was my pink eye, then it was asthma and acid reflux, then eczema, and now Hubbs has contracted my bad luck and developed his own eye allergies.

Is there excess pollenation happening this spring?! Was there an abundance of leftover snow mould from the spring thaw?! Why are our bodies going haywire?!?

Though I've now recovered, in most part, from my ailments, I am still dealing with weird eye symptoms that are particularly bad during the evenings. Dry eye, perhaps. Or allergies. Or eye fatigue. I'm not sure which of these it is anymore. But for Hubbs, his suffering has (unfortunately) only begun. The poor guy is sneezing, running at the schnoz, and his eyes are itchy and red and teary. I wish he could be spared the ugliness of spring allergies. I wish both of us had good, symptom-free eyes and healthy bodies.

If only I had decided to go into Med instead of education! :( For someone as seemingly frail as I am, I should really surround myself with doctors who can diagnose me and prescribe me something on a near - weekly basis.

I hope Toronto doesn't trigger something worse for Hubbs and I! Yikers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tipping - A Rant


I want to know why certain services expect, nay, demand, a tip, when other services do not. It seems hardly fair, nor reasonable. Don't get me wrong - Hubbs and I are good tippers, averaging 15-20% whenever the situation calls for gratuities - but in principle nobody should actually be tipped, or else everyone should.

Think about it. Servers at a restaurant expect a tip. Your hair stylist expects a big tip. The housekeeper at the hotel, the valet parker, the concierge / door people, the cab driver - they all demand a tip, even if said demand is unspoken.

What makes these services so much more "tip-worthy" than, say, registered massage therapists, or tutors, or dental hygienists, or my bi-weekly cleaning service, or accountants? These professions and people also offer a service, and an individualized one at that, so the argument that the stylist or server presents a specialized personal service is moot. What, then, sets apart certain service providers as those who deserve a tip?

It is getting more ridiculous now as a few more companies have started jumping onto the tipping bandwagon. Several local coffee shops now have tip jars at their tills, as do quite a few fast food joints. People who are no longer providing an individualized, personal service are even expecting a gracious "gift" on top of their outrageous prices.

What gives?!?

If these people are feeling underpaid for their work and require additional monetary supplementation, should they not simply charge a more fair, reasonable rate that can sustain their existence? I mean, roll that tip into the price of the haircut, or meal, or hotel room! Sheesh. The alternative would be for all of us who provide some sort of service to start expecting tips for a job well done. Maybe I should have a tip jar at my desk at school. Maybe your local supermarket should have tip jars in each of their departments. Perhaps the mail delivery person should ring doorbells with one hand open, in anticipation of some gratuity.

Tipping is a ridiculous concept, and one that makes little sense given its unequal distribution among professions. Frankly, my RMT (who has to work hard to dislodge the knots in my back every few weeks) is far more deserving of a tip than the server who barely cracked a smile when roughly thumping down the glasses on my table. The patient dental hygienist who has to scrape the gunk off my teeth is also far more worthy of a gratuity than the girl behind the counter who fills up a paper cup with coffee for me.

Tipping stinks. I wonder where I can sign up to opt out without getting spittle in my food?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Hubbs is going to a summit in Toronto, courtesy of Microsoft, and therefore I am tagging along (as all part-time employed wives do when they suffer from separation anxiety). :)

We'll actually be spending most of our time in Mississauga, which I think is close to TO (but I can't be entirely sure, since my knowledge of ON geography is pretty sad). While
Hubbs is networking and learning more about stuff that I know nothing about, I will be shopping the cool stores and malls and enjoying some R & R at the Sheraton during the 3 nights and 3.5 days that we're there.

I'm excited since I haven't been that far east yet, but at the same time I refuse to get my hopes up about the city, since few cities that I've visited (including Anaheim) have lived up to the standard of the best city in Canada - Vancouver! I find that after a while any other city's novelty wears off and at the end of the day, it's still just a city.

That said, I'm still happy to be able to visit a new city and to take a much needed break from the chaos. When it comes to the travel bug, it's once bitten, twice a year that one must travel. ;) For me, anyway ;)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008



For the next little while, my blog rantings will likely be sporadic. May and June are the busiest and ugliest months of all for teachers, and unfortunately I am not exempt from this chaotic season of the academic year.

Add to that many expectations surrounding parental visits, Mother's Day and Father's Day, familial birthdays, and the like. It is little wonder that I find myself melting into my bed at the end of the day and hostile to the idea of getting up at 5:00 every morning.

It never ceases to amaze, how adulthood brings with it so many obligations and demands from all sides. As a "smug married," the sides simply multiply. There is only so much of Hubbs and I to go around, and this seems to be such a constant surprise to others, even though we have never been unclear about our time constraints and hectic schedules. It seems like nobody is listening, and everyone is selfishly hoping that our schedules will suddenly clear up or we will make the exception for them, because they are somehow more special than every other person who is also insisting on our time and attention.

The idea of becoming reclusive grows ever more appealing by the day. The temptation to vent electronically via this medium, and by so doing potentially alienate people whom we care about, is also ever present and attractive, but entirely infeasible. Which is why I need to follow Thumper's mother's rule of social etiquette about staying silent rather than speaking ill of others.

I'll let you know when we have navigated our way out of these pushy, demanding times, and my outlook is more pleasant and less frustrated. Until then, be prepared for some cryptic (and infrequent) musings, or perhaps a plethora of posts on my new obsession, the Twilight series (which provides me with escape, one that I welcome at the end of a rough and demanding day).