My 12-year-old daughter and I recently spent 3 days in an upscale hotel in Santa Cruz, California. On the beach, in the sun, turn down service and chocolates on the pillow; a major splurge. Witnessing a phone conversation at the front desk, it was clear that the clientele was demanding and entitled, and the hotel staff was dealing with them as gracefully as possible. But they were driving me crazy too.
Does anyone know how to close a door quietly? Can you lean over and pick up your own garbage? Do you have a polite inside voice? Does anyone know the difference between private and public spaces?
The first night my child and I ventured down to the hot tub and pool. The pool was warm, the hot tub bubbly and inviting under the coastal moon. Sharing space with us was a family with three teenage girls. The father was in the hot tub, chewing out one of the girls for some social faux pas or another. Loudly. We could hear his voice echoing off the asphalt. The mom flinched in a corner of the hot tub, embarrassed, apologizing with her eyes. On and on he went. Driving his point home, not bothering to tone it down after we arrived, even though he could clearly see everyone in the vicinity was uncomfortable, darting looks at each other. Unpleasant, and a great way to alienate your teenage daughter. I was sympathetic to his plight, but don’t you have a room where you could do that? Finally, the girls escape to the beach below, and peace pervades. But I wouldn’t get in the hot tub with that guy.
The next day we went to the pool in the afternoon (my kid is part dolphin.) It was full of kids, bouncing, screaming, and throwing balls around, surrounded by parents and older siblings lounging in myriad chaises with drinks in their hands. Standing smack in the center of the pool was a young couple having an argument as if no one else was around. From my post far away from the screaming kids, I could see him gesturing and read the volume in his voice. The girl is crying, he is angry. My daughter keeps turning to look at me. Has anyone else noticed this? Or are they too wrapped up in their pina coladas? The couple takes it to the hot tub for “more privacy,” where my daughter has escaped – she has been back and forth between the pool and the tub, as is her method of relaxation. She leaves and comes to me to report how uncomfortable she is. The couple is alternately fighting and making out and she is offended by his foul language. Haven’t they got a room where they can do that? Are they so self absorbed they don’t notice or care about the 6-year-olds surrounding them? I fight the battle in my head over whether or not to say something, and they finally depart for the far corner of the deck, kissing and cooing.
Yes, you paid a lot of money to stay in this hotel. Yes, you are allowed to use the shared spaces. Yes, people have disagreements. But this is not your backyard. And I paid a lot of money for a nice vacation too. Please people, some decorum. Some awareness. Some respect. Some ability to see beyond your own little bubble. I’m on vacation, and not in a position where I can put you on a timeout.