Sunday, August 23, 2009

Death at the Sheraton

A couple of weeks ago, I had a poll on this blog asking people this question--if they knew there was a murder/suicide in their hotel room, would they stay in it? Most people said no. Well, it wasn't a lot of people, but I don't think a lot of people follow this blog. If they do, they're keeping awfully quiet about it. Hint, hint.

When I was in Baltimore at school, I stayed at the Sheraton. I knew that a man had killed his two daughters, his wife, and then himself on the tenth floor. When I checked in, I was put on the tenth floor. It was kind of fitting, considering what I'm writing about. But, I was totally freaked out. Was I in the room? I couldn't get a straight answer from the staff, who were told to stay quiet. Understandably. Later, I found out that I wasn't in the room, but the place still creeped me out.

I'm currently writing about this experience for my thesis. I remembered something I'd read by David Foster Wallace in his essay, "Up Simba" for Rolling Stone. Wallace frequently mentions suicide in his writing, and last year he killed himself at home. His wife found him. Anyway, here's an excerpt from "Up Simba," about Wallace's experience on the 2000 McCain campaign trail.

"Rolling Stone, who is in no way cut out to be a road journalist, invokes the soul-killing anonymity of chain hotels, the rooms’ terrible transient sameness: the ubiquitous floral design of the bedspreads, the multiple low watt lamps, the pallid artwork bolted to the wall, the schizoid whisper of ventilation, the sad shag carpet, the smell of alien cleansers, the Kleenex dispensed from the wall, the automated wake-up call, the lightproof curtains, the windows that do not open—ever. The same TV with the same cable with the same voice saying “Welcome to ___________” on its menu channel’s eight-second loop. The sense that everything in the room’s been touched by a thousand hands before. The sounds of others’ plumbing. RS asks whether it’s any wonder that over half of all US suicides take place in chain hotels."

I can't seem to find any statistics to back this claim up. Although, there was a study done about Vegas hotels. It seems a lot of people kill themselves there. Gives new meaning to the marketing phrase, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

Apparently, that can include your body.

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