Life Advice



Hotel guest finds Do Not Disturb sign disturbing

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am currently staying in a hotel, and in order to prevent the cleaning staff from trying to come in during my midday shower, I hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside of the door.

The sign in this hotel depicts an unraveled bow tie draped over the door handle. Other places I have stayed have used neckties on their signs, too.

I wonder how the families staying at this place explain that imagery to curious children. (I'm picturing a persistent 4-year-old then demanding a necktie from daddy at home because she wants to keep her little brother out of the room.)

Am I wrong to want an end to frat house humor on my hotel room door?

-- Disturbed by Do Not Disturb

Dear Disturbed: To answer your parenting question first -- it's hard to imagine a child expressing persistent and prurient curiosity about a necktie graphic on a hotel "do not disturb" sign. But if a child ever did wonder why a necktie was depicted, a parent could easily answer, "I don't know why the hotel did that," Or, "In the olden days when most men wore neckties, college students would sometimes hang their necktie on the doorknob when they didn't want their roommate bursting into the room and disturbing them." Of course, a parent could also answer with the less-varnished truth: "This is supposed to be a sign that people are having sex inside the room."


Before receiving your question, I had never pondered the implicit message in this depiction of a necktie on a door knob. The necktie is definitely code for: "sex might be happening," and -- speaking as someone who travels mainly for business -- this imagery (at the very least) is too cute by half.

At the very worst, it is sexist and offensively retrograde. I'm (now) in your camp.

If you want to make your opinion known, you should snap a photo of the offending sign and email the photo to the hotel's corporate office, along with an explanation of why you find it offensive, and a request that they change their signage. I'm interested to learn what readers think.

The most accurate "do not disturb" placard depicting the reality of MY (and most people's) travel would show a person hunched over a laptop, with a half-eaten hotel burger within arm's reach, racing to meet a deadline.


swipe to next page



David M. Hitch Tim Campbell Cul de Sac Joey Weatherford Ed Gamble Non Sequitur