Hotel guest finds Do Not Disturb sign disturbing
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.
[I'll close with my own regular plea to always tip the cleaning staff. Even if you hole up in your room and never encounter them, a minimum of $2 for each day of your stay is thoughtful.]
Dear Amy: I recently discovered that my husband has been on several dating sites.
He said he was bored and wanted to see what's out there.
He has since deleted the accounts.
What do you think?
-- Worried Wife
Dear Worried: There is no crime in being bored and idly Googling old romantic connections -- to see how badly they have aged. (I hope I'm not the only person who has done this.)
What your husband has apparently done is to sign up for several dating sites. Even if he is only browsing the sites without registering, he still has to surrender his phone number or email address -- or sign in through a third-party site like Facebook -- to do so. He is handing over potentially valuable personal data.
Most importantly, he says he is bored. This calls for some follow-up on your part.
Don't panic. Do talk about this.
Dear Amy: I am a licensed clinical social worker. I strongly disagree with your advice to "Upset SIL." A year ago, she and her husband thought they saw photos of naked young girls on his brother's iPad.
They should not speak with the brother, but instead make an anonymous report to the child abuse authorities and let them investigate.
If they confront him, it's possible he would deny it and then delete the material.
Let's hope it is something very innocent. They will find that out. On the other had it could be a lot more and if the material is there it could lead to a ring of child pornographers.
Thank you for encouraging them/her to take action. So many children are hurt because people don't. This is one area where anonymous reporting is OK and may be for the best.
-- Social Worker
Dear Social Worker: This couple had been thinking and talking about this for a year. Thank you for clarifying how they should react to their suspicions. I completely agree.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)