I get paranoia. I don’t get it, insofar as I understand it, but I get it exists. And I get it exists to quite probably the most unjustifiable levels in about half a forever. There’s probably about half a dozen diagnoses that could cover it. Perhaps if a few of them were applied at just the right time to just the right people, we wouldn’t have yet another list from the Department of Homeland Security on just what to look for in a potential terrorist while you’re doing exactly everything a good non-terrorist is supposed to do during your hotel stay. Which, apparently, includes such sound advice as to keep a lookout for anyone who might be leaving their vehicle unattended too close to the hotel–without, you know, defining such critical language as “too close”. Oh, and be careful how much you don’t use the hotel-provided telephones or wi-fi. Oh, you’ve got your own cell phone? Don’t wanna pay the too much for in-house net? Terrorist!
Fortunately, the article also provides us with a handy dandy little instruction set so we don’t end up on the DHS’s not loyal enough list, presumedly while we’re keeping an eye out for folks who might not know better. Which is good, since my own attempt at doing same got about as far as “loyal citizens stay the hell home”.
So, to be a standup, non-terrorist citizen, here’s what you need to do:
Pack for two weeks if you’re staying for two days. Park your vehicle a safe distance away from the hotel, perhaps across the street or at another hotel. Leaving your vehicle dangerously unattended, walk directly through the main entrance with hands open and displayed in a non-threatening manner.
When registering, present as many forms of ID as possible. Be sure to mention where you work EVEN if no one asks. Brag if you have to. Hand out business cards to the staff. Let the desk clerk know that your stay here is no secret and that your room number should be given to anyone who asks, including those who don’t ask. When asked if you have a room preference, answer with a bright, but unfrightening, “I’ve never had a ‘preference’ in my life! I’m easy to please and an American citizen!”
Head directly to your room, carefully avoiding eye contact with doors marked “Employees Only.” Immediately unpack all of your luggage. Make several phones calls using ONLY the in-room phone. Call the front desk several times so as to avoid appearing suspicious. Return to your unattended vehicle and clone yourself using existing, but non-potentially-dangerous technology. Make no sudden movements and keep your ID and passport displayed prominently. Return one of yourselves to your hotel room, again using the front entrance in a non-threatening, flag-waving manner.
Stay in your room. Use the provided wi-fi. Avoid sites that use any form of encryption. Be careful not to stay in your room too long. When venturing out for something to eat or a non-suspicious conversation with the suspicious staff, avoid stairwells, hallways, exits/entrances, and connecting roads. On second thought, just stay in your room. This will make it easier to avoid being caught up in the middle of a personnel shift change.
If you must leave your room, smile and wave at each and every security camera. Lift your shirt to display lack of weapons, explosives or identifiable scars and tattoos. If purchasing anything from the hotel, use only credit cards, checks or DNA. Return to your room using the most surveilled route. Use the in-room phone to order room service. Turn down the delivery when it comes, stating that you’re trying to keep visitors and deliveries to a minimum. Apologize for not having any cash to tip with, but explain that this lack of cash directly contributes (not monetarily, of course) to the safety of everyone in the hotel. Repeat this apology to housekeeping when they arrive, being sure to answer the door before they get to the second knock. Try to ignore their just-out-of-earshot griping about having to clean around the scattered contents of four large suitcases. Smile in a non-threatening fashion and shrug as if to say, “LOOK AT HOW MUCH I DON’T HAVE TO HIDE.”
If you find that, despite your careful planning, your stay is going to be extended indefinitey, switch hotels. Pack all of your belongings carefully. Police the room for any stray socks, unused condoms or stealable toiletries. Turn the coffee maker OFF (if applicable). Leave in an unhurried fashion, but don’t dawdle. Return to your attended vehicle and (most likely) dead clone. Drive to another hotel, preferably one a non-suspicious distance away and repeat the process. Once you return to your hometown, turn yourself into the nearest authorities for a thorough post-travel debriefing.
On second thought, I don’t care if loyal sitizens stay home. The smart ones who’d rather not deal with Homeland Security sure as hell do. I’ll be cancelling my not fully formed vacation plans now.