Tuesday, January 02, 2018


Hello, and welcome to your reality, 2018 style: A number of hotels in Walt Disney World are quietly shifting one of their amenities to a more contemporary motif. Gone are the "Do Not Disturb" signs found historically on the door handles of rooms that were full of sleeping, playing, cavorting, tired, depressed, overly enthusiastic guests. Convention has it that these signs were placed on the outside of the door to preclude anyone who had a mind to interrupt any of the sleep, play, etc. would be discouraged and come back once the sign had been placed back on the inside doorknob. That was how the game was played. Heaven only knows how much sketchy behavior took place with only that little piece of plastic to ward off suspecting innkeepers.
This was part of the plan enacted by Stephen Paddock, the murderer of fifty-eight concertgoers on October 1 of this year. When he checked into his room on the thirty-second floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, he put out the "Do Not Disturb" sign. This kept maids, room service, and all other hotel employees from putting their nose squarely in Mister Paddock's business. His business was not gambling or sleeping or snorting or any of those other activities that tend to stay in Vegas. His business was killing, and on that particular evening business was horribly good. Police found twenty-three rifles, one handgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the room once they finally gained entry. There is still no clear motive for this crime, but what remains of Paddock's brain after he put a bullet through it has been sent to Stanford for study. One thing is clear, however: that little placard with the shushing bellhop certainly did its part. No one disturbed Stephen Paddock until he was already firing.
Which brings us back to the Magic Kingdom. Guests will now use "Room Occupied" signs to let housekeeping and maintenance folks know that they are still inside, hoping for a moment of privacy. But this won't keep them hotel employees from entering the room. This might lead to a few more moments in flagrante dilecto, red faces all around and complaints to the front desk, but maybe it will save lives. That is the world in which we live, 2018.
Sleep tight.

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