Even though we basically travel very little, ever since the first warnings about a national bedbug epidemic came out a couple of years or so ago, I have been operating on a tense basis when checking into a hotel. A couple of years ago we made two trips to the East Coast, which always involves at least four days on the road going and coming, with a minimum of six or seven different places to stay. And that meant that every time we checked in anywhere, before bringing in the suitcases and unpacking, we pulled the bedding back and inspected the mattress for sinister signs of sinister bedbugs. The fact that in all those stops we never encountered problems only means that we were lucky, and vigilant.
So when we made our most recent trip, to San Antonio, it was check-carefully-as-usual time, and the beds seemed just fine. On the other hand, at a point after a busy day, when we were lounging about, I noticed on top of the white bed cover some little dark-brown flecks or bits or whatever one would call them, all quite tiny in size. By that time, we had unpacked and pity-patted all around the room numerous times, so the terrifying thought struck me that we were doomed. Doomed to take home nasty little bed-buggies to our home, doomed to have to forfeit our beloved mattress at home, just plain old doomed. Just in case I was mistaken, I dampened a tissue and wiped away those little brown flecks, tried to relax, stretched out again with a watchful eye, and after a bit, I looked again, and there … were … some …more … flecks. At that point, completely horrified, there was nothing more I could do, so I decided to try to distract myself as much as possible and make some coffee with one of those one-cup-at-a-time thingies that hotels provide as a presumed amenity nowadays. The coffee proved undrinkable, possibly because it had been in the basket there since the hotel was built several years before, so I poured it out and we availed ourselves of some packaged goodies from the hotel ‘market’, which were overpriced but easily available.
That night, while waiting for sleep to come in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room in a city several hundred miles from home, something in the day’s activities kind of clicked for me, and I put the coffee and the flecks together, and realized that I had not had an encounter with bedbugs, I had had an encounter with coffee grounds spilled in the carpet by the sink where the coffee maker thingy was, said grounds then picked up by our socks and deposited on the white bed cover, more than once, a testament to the slack vacuuming techniques of the staff certainly, but not something that would doom us. At least not this time!