Sometimes I don’t know what American hotel chains are thinking. Consider this increasingly commonplace hotel scenario. You check in, get your keycard, lug your bags into the elevator and up to the room, use the key card to access the room, open the door, and . . . .
There are strange voices coming from inside the room. Murmuring, distinctly human voices, but at a volume where you can’t immediately make out what the heck they are saying. Then you go into your room and discover that the TV is on, set to a channel where people are talking, and you have to walk over and turn it off.
Why is this the latest trend? It’s inexplicable. You used to go into your hotel room and, in many cases, find that the TV has been set to a music channel. But now the music welcome has been junked, and it’s always a TV channel where people are talking. Sometimes it’s the channel that carries those long vignette ads for the hotel chain itself, and sometimes its the local NPR station. But it’s almost always human voices in the background these days.
Why is this so? I suppose somebody thought that the sound of human voices in the room would make the weary lone traveler feel a little less isolated on his or her trip. Or maybe they just figure they’ll hit you with a few seconds of free hotel advertising time during the time it takes for you to drop your bags, march over to the TV set, wrestle with the remote, and figure out how to turn the TV off.
This has become standard operating procedure in most hotels, so you’d think I’d be used to it — but I’m not. Instead, I inevitably think as I open the door — “Hey, have I gone to the wrong room?”