Abe's NoseA couple weeks ago my family and I took a trip to Springfield, Illinois. Before we left, I made reservations for two nights at a hotel that I chose based on room occupancy allowances (we have five people), TripAdvisor reviews, price, and a history of good luck with that particular chain.

When we checked in they told us that the hotel was undergoing renovation, but we didn’t think much of it. It was already well past our little ones’ bedtimes, and as long as there was no overnight construction, we didn’t mind if some rooms weren’t complete. We were looking forward to settling in for the night, but when we stepped off the elevator on our floor, we were met with chaos. Doors were open, exposing half-redecorated rooms, and drywall dust covered the hallway. When we opened our door, there was no countertop in the “kitchenette” area, there was drywall dust on the carpet, and cardboard left sitting in the bathroom.

My husband went down to complain, and they gave us a new room but not before warning that none of the rooms had the kitchenette countertops. Our second room was at least dust- and cardboard-free, and it was too late to change hotels so we decided to make the best of it.IMG_0236

After we had gotten the kids settled into bed, we realized the new deadbolt wasn’t properly aligned so it wouldn’t lock. But again, we decided to just deal.

I heard my husband get up a few times in the middle of the night but I ignored it and went back to sleep. In the morning, though, he told me what he had been doing.

As a former fireman, he couldn’t sleep. The open room doors bothered him because they’re supposed to be closed at night for fire-containment purposes. (If a fire starts in one room, a closed door can keep it from spreading to others.) He walked the entire hotel and found 34 doors left open. He always walks the exit routes so he knows where they are in case we need them. When he did, he found equipment (including ladders) stored in the stairwells, which is not allowed per fire code. In an emergency, people could trip over the equipment or even knock it over, blocking other people’s escape.

IMG_0248He apologized to me, but said he couldn’t stay there another night and we needed to find a new hotel. He said, “I really wish I could be ignorant about the hazards here, but I know too much and this isn’t safe. I wish I didn’t know or didn’t care, but I do, and we can’t stay here.”

He thought I’d be annoyed by his “pickiness,” but I understood. It’s the same way I am with car seat safety. In a way, I wish I didn’t know or didn’t care about the importance of car seats. In a way, I wish I could just go ahead and let my kids ride without seats when they’re “just going around the corner” because the risk of something happening is so small. But I know that a small risk (of a car crash or a hotel fire) is still a risk I’m not willing to take.

So that morning, my husband called the local fire department, who said they would send an inspector out. We also talked to the manager, who was shocked that doors had been left open, and agreed that the hotel really should have shut down during construction. (The parent company had insisted on keeping it open.) She cancelled our reservation for that night and refunded all of our money for the previous night.

I don’t know what happened as a result of the fire inspection, but I do know that I’ll happily indulge my husband’s fire-safety obsessions as long as he continues to indulge my car-seat ones. We’re a little crazy like that.