Human Bed Warmers Invade Britain

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal, January 27, 2010

Maybe it’s just the extra hard workouts I’ve been doing lately, but I really love my bed.

It’s a place of respite and it’s always the same. I never have to wonder how it’s going to feel, or who else has been in it. It’s just me, my pillows, sheets, blankets, and jammies—arranged exactly the way I like them.

I think other people feel this way, too. That’s why a new service being offered by Holiday Inn in Britain has me a little perplexed, not to mention a tad grossed out.

According to MSNBC.com, the hotel chain is volunteering a human bed-warming service. The story says, if a guest requests it, a staff member will dress in an “all-in-one fleece sleeper suit” and slip into your bed before you’re ready for it, making it all nice and toasty for your arrival.

Holiday Inn spokeswoman Jane Bednall said it’s  “A bit like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed.”

Also included in the article was the claim that the “warmer” would be fully clothed and vacate the bed before the guest arrives. Hair is supposedly covered, but there was no confirmation if the person warming the bed would have showered first. I think I speak for humanity when I say, “Ugh.”

“Florence Eavis, Holiday Inn spokeswoman told Reuters that the ‘innovative’ bed-warming method was a response to Britain’s recent cold weather and marked the launch of 3,200 new Holiday Inns worldwide.

“She could not explain why the beds were not being warmed by hot water bottles or electric-blankets, but admitted the human method was quirky.”

Quirky is one word for this. Creepy is too.

In concert with Holiday Inn, Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Center, claims a warmer bed helps people sleep better.

“There’s plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop,” he said. “A warm bed—approximately 20 to 24 Celsius—is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep.”

All of this raises the question: Really?

It also begs a couple of other questions: What’s next?  Someone to warm the toilet seat before I sit down?  A staff member to chew my food for me?  Maybe an employee to sit in my bath water to make sure it’s just right?

Here’s an idea, Holiday Inn.  If it’s really that cold in Britain, why not opt for those electric blankets or hot water bottles you mentioned? Or better yet, some extra fuzzy blankets?

Maybe Brits are fussier about these things than Americans. Or maybe it’s just a matter of individual taste. But I like my bed a little cool when I climb aboard. My own body heat warms it up. And here’s the real plus: I never have to worry about a stranger’s hair, body odor or fluids taking over my personal space.

Of course, Holiday Inn is a hotel. And who’s to say what really goes on in hotel rooms before guests arrive? It could be anything, and probably is.

Sometimes when I’m staying in a hotel I have to try and not concentrate on what happened there before I checked in. And even though some places do a fine job of making it feel like home, let’s be honest—it isn’t.  And the thought that someone I don’t know has been in the bed I bought for the night to ‘warm it up,’ makes me want to sleep in the car.
Occasionally before I crawl into bed, I’ll put my laptop computer under the covers to warm my feet. Spouses are also good for, well, heating things up.

Holiday Inn’s groundbreaking methods are not for me, but will no doubt be used by some.  Meanwhile, when I hit the sheets, I like to recognize the scent of lotion or shampoo as my own, thank you.

And in a hotel, short of sterilizing everything before use, I’ll settle for a whiff of fabric softener.

The staff? They can stay behind the front desk.

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Notes From A Believer

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal, January 13, 2010

There’ve been some difficult days lately. You know the kind.

My efforts felt minimal, but were the best I had to offer, the money didn’t stretch very far, and as hard as I tried to make people see things my way, they couldn’t or wouldn’t.

In short, I was not enough. And one day last weekend the planets must’ve lined up just right adding to everything else in the fray, and I experienced a melt down—a day of falling apart. I felt out of control and people around me were confused.

The good news is, it was only one day. I plunged headlong into the new week, ready to take on my life. I was in defense mode. That’s why what happened next caught me off guard.

One morning I woke up experiencing what I can only describe as grace, covering me like a cape, a blanket made wholly of unconditional love. The feeling was palpable, almost tangible. Its warmth stopped me cold. My first thought? What did I do to deserve this infusion of goodness? I hadn’t been doing enough. Why the outpouring?

That same day I got to see a rare, early Whatcom County morning on the way to work. January drizzle gave way to breaking light over Mt. Baker and into the hills of Bellingham. Driving down Vista, I felt that grace again. My emotional armor was no match for the gift I’d been given. Softening prevailed.

The coral and purple ribbons of sky were show stopping, and reminded me of a thought by someone called Father Joseph, that was passed along to me at a time I needed it:

“One of God’s arrangements is that after winter there should come beautiful spring days. It happens every year. And it happens in every life.”

I’ve also observed that sometimes I’m given peace, knowledge, and comfort prior to a difficult phase in my life. Kind of like someone bestowing me with a lovely gift to soften the blow of soon-to-be delivered bad news.

Either way, it only strengthens my faith that I’m not alone, or forgotten.

Even though he does a lot for himself now, sometimes I do little, unexpected things for my teenage son that I know he’ll like. I make him hot chocolate, buy his favorite candy bar, or bring home Subway’s Meatball Marinara sandwiches. I tell him I appreciate his help, or that his hair looks good that day.

It’s fun to see his face light up. But it’s not because he earned it, it’s because I love him and I want him to recognize that affection in ways other than my paying the mortgage or bringing home the groceries.

I think God gives gifts in ways like that. It’s simple. I exist and that’s enough for God. I don’t have to do everything right or always be on my best game to deserve goodness. Sometimes it’s just a manifestation of love.

I’ve experienced too much in my life to ever deny the existence of God. I see the proof everywhere.

Last week’s present was more icing on an already beautiful cake.

Dear Jay Leno:

Somebody has to have the guts to say it, so I will:  It’s past time for you to step off.  Frankly, you’re making a bit of a fool of yourself.  I know you’re a comic and used to people laughing at you, but this time it’s not ha-ha funny. It’s just sad.

It’s Conan’s turn.  He’s waited very patiently. He’s done right by NBC. The torch was passed. And now you want it back, so the network is willing to ditch the best Tonight Show host since Johnny Carson just so you can get what you want. If you wield this much power at NBC, why not take the high road?

I’ve gotta be honest here, Jay. You’re really not that funny. True, your very early days were pretty good. Your stand-up routines on Late Night With David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Johnny were, well, ground-breaking. You used to be amusing. Now? Not so much.  I don’t know what happened and I really don’t care. All I know for sure is you pander to the lowest common denominator and go for the cheap laugh. It’s getting old, Jay. Way old.

Then, there’s Conan O’Brien. He would be the first to own up to his silliness, his low-brow style. But he’s got something you don’t: Class.

Have you even read Conan’s thoughtful (not to mention humorous) public statement?

The courteous, fair, kind, (insert positive adjective here) thing to do would be to bow out, let Conan have his day, his months and years on The Tonight Show, like you had. Do you remember when ABC was quietly courting David Letterman to do his show in place of Ted Koppel’s Nightline? And do you remember that Dave said no because he liked Ted Koppel too much and felt Nightline had merit?  Say what you want about Dave’s personal life, but that move was a slice of career genius and personal integrity, garnering respect all around.

Will you please do the same thing? Just say “No.”

Please go back to your acres of collectable cars, your piles of money, and leave the funny to someone else who actually has it.

While the media dissects and analyzes Conan O’Brien and his decision to not placate NBC, the real bad guy here is you.

Your time is up. Take it like a man. Work on other projects. But give Conan his due.

Sincerely,

No Fan Of Yours