Thursday, June 3, 2021

Social Distancing.... Or Not

While not many are wearing masks, everyone in Indiana seems to intuitively understand the concept of social distancing.  Shoppers stay respectfully away in the produce aisle.  Doors are held for me while standing as far from the opening as possible.  Park goers ask permission before they take the next swing.

That wasn't the case when friends ventured out to a Marriott property in Northern California.  

They'd been secluded for all of Pandemica.  She's immunocompromised and was unwilling to take any chances.  But there was a new baby and family they hadn't seen so he researched the policies of the various hotel chains and determined that Marriott, his usual choice, seemed the safest.

He was sad to discover that reality was far from the ideal.

In order to access the elevators, they had to cross the lobby.  That's the case in most hotels - you walk in the front door and cross to the reception desk, then waltz across the lobby to the elevators.  My friends had no opportunity to waltz, nor to stroll, nor to loiter or linger.  The lobby was filled with wedding revelers, drinking and laughing and generally having a great time all weekend - with nary a mask in sight.

He complained to the manager.  He complained to the front desk.  He was met with excuses, with sympathy, with incompetence.  No one was empowered to do anything beyond asking the guests to take themselves outside.  They didn't comply and no one forced the issue.

Though they are both fully vaccinated, they're still wearing masks and avoiding physical contact even with close friends.  At dinner last week, outdoors on a patio, we bumped elbows rather than hugging.  She's wary of putting herself at risk, with good reason.  She's been careful for 17 months, and came through unscathed.  They chose Marriott because their policies seemed designed to insure safety.  Swallowing their anxiety about being in a public space, about exposure to the unvaccinated, about being in the world at all, they chose what they thought was the safest option.

Leaving their room, returning to their room, doing anything using the hotel's facilities - it all required a massive leap of faith and an unhealthy dose of fear.  This was not an inexpensive trip.  It was almost impossible for them to enjoy it.

A stern letter was sent to the president of the corporation.  So far, there has been no response.

It's frightening enough to travel these days.  To be confronted with an untenable situation when all they wanted was to bask in the love of family seems cruel, thoughtless, and really bad customer service.   

When the property promises one thing but delivers another, the customer has a right to complain.  When my friends lives are put at risk, I feel the need to post about it.

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