I suspect that when most people enter a hotel room, after they put down their bags and other belongings, they probably take some time to look around the room, and check out the accommodations. They might read the room service menu, kick off their shoes and rest on the bed while flipping casually through TV channels. Some ambitious folk might even begin to hang up or put away clothing. Others might decide to make a cup of coffee or help themselves to an adult beverage from the mini-fridge.
Not me. When I walk into a hotel room—just after I put down my bags—I start looking for escape routes. I scout the room carefully and take note of the positions of beds, doors, and windows. I do this, because I imagine—fear, really—that some drunken, or certifiably loony hotel employee might decide to get it in his head that he’d like nothing better than to use his universal key card and his portable chain-cutter (which he obviously carries with him wherever he goes) to gain entry to my room at 3 o’clock in the morning, just after he’s gotten off his shift, or maybe right in the middle of his shift—depending on his mood—to do me bodily harm.
I take in all of the sensory information I can about my emergency exit options, calculate the risks, and then I decide where I am going to lay my head for the night.
Consider, for example, the following scenarios (FYI—no children are present in these fictitious contexts because that would be too horrifying and absurd):
Scenario #1: My husband and I walk in to our hotel room, which happens to be on a very high floor (so, no real threat of someone gaining access to the room from the outside of the building). In this case, I claim the bed pillow farthest from the door. I do this, because I rationalize that if someone were to force his way into the room, he would likely come upon my husband first, sleeping just slightly closer to the door. This would likely startle my husband, giving me time to wake, come to my senses, and run away, without harm, while Liam engaged in a fight to defend my life.
Scenario #2: My husband and I and one other couple stay in a hotel room with two beds, but on a ground-level floor with at least one window. So, now there is both an internal and an external threat. In addition to the deranged hotel employee with the key card and chain-cutter, there could also be a homicidal maniac on the loose outside, with a tool, such as a crowbar, tire iron, or ax, with which he could shatter the window in a thousand pieces and quickly gain entry to the room. In this case, I would claim the bed pillow that was somewhere in the middle of the room—equidistant from the door threat and the window threat. Again, the same logic applies as before. Someone else would encounter the crazy guy first, simply by their proximity to the break-in entry-point, giving me precious, sufficient time during which to make my great escape.
**It should be noted here, though I think it’s pretty obvious, that neither in the moment, nor afterwards, do I give away any hint that I’m having these twisted thoughts or making these devious plans. I must make my decisions rather quickly, before other individuals lay claim to my chosen safe-spots, but also before they suspect my true, conspiratorial intentions. I’m pretty sure my husband and dear friends would not be amused by my selfish scheming in which they must risk and sacrifice their safety—let’s be honest here, their lives—so that I may live on instead.
Scenario #3: Back to just my husband and I, staying in a room as somewhat described above. Window and door threat are still present, but this time only one bed, and no other couple. I’m totally screwed. If I sleep nearest the door and the creepy chain-cutter dude forces his way in, I’m toast. If I choose the window side and the crowbar-wielding serial killer smashes the glass, I’m dead. This one is a total toss-up. Pillow-roulette, if you will. I make a tough decision, and then offer up a quick prayer that I’ve made the right choice, or better yet, that the night simply passes peacefully. And then I proceed to read the room service menu, kick off my shoes and rest on the bed while flipping casually through TV channels, and help myself to an adult beverage from the mini-fridge.