DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the letter about hotel workers and how we're not baby sitters. You stated that we members of the hospitality industry make guests feel so "at home" that they "forget" they truly aren't. This is so true!
I am shocked how often parents leave young children in rooms unattended. They assume if the door locks behind them, the child is contained and safe. Not true! Many times, toddlers with limited speaking ability open the door and end up roaming the floor or the lobby. Once they're discovered, they can't tell us what room they came from or who their parents are. It's frustrating trying to locate the absent parents in the gym, spa, restaurant, shop or bar.
I want to make sure your message that hotel staff cannot be baby sitters and conduct business is repeated even more sternly. This includes parents who have left a child napping ("just for a minute!") and now the child awakens, frightened that Mommy and Daddy aren't there, and leaves the room to find them. Thank you, Abby! -- HOTELIER IN ORLANDO, FLA.
DEAR HOTELIER: When I printed that letter, I had no idea it would touch so many nerves. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I travel 10 to 12 times a year, and I can see what the writer is talking about at almost every hotel I stay in. I was in a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C., recently. A couple had their 2-year-old with them. The child was running wild all over the restaurant, which had a large 2-foot-deep fountain next to it. The staff repeatedly requested that the parents keep their child near them and received no support.
Needless to say, the child wandered over the bridge by the fountain, crawled through the railings and fell in face first. (It was about 10 feet from where I was sitting.) I jumped in and pulled the kid out while the parents and staff just watched. Do you know those parents never even thanked me? They just took the child and finished eating! -- DAVID IN LAKE JACKSON, TEXAS
DEAR DAVID: Just when I think I've heard everything, I receive a letter like yours. That child may have been drenched, but the parents were all wet.
DEAR ABBY: I have worked at a hotel in northern Minnesota for three years. We often host kids' sports teams and their parents. The parents regard these tournament weekends as a private getaway and often leave their children alone in the hotel while they're out drinking and carousing. With no supervision, the children run up and down the halls, make noise and disturb other guests.
Thank you, Abby, for urging parents to pay more attention to how their children behave at hotels. It's not only for the benefit of other guests, but also for the safety of their young ones. -- DESK CLERK
DEAR DESK CLERK: You're welcome.
DEAR ABBY: Here's how the Atlantic City casinos dealt with the problem, which had become monumental. We had children crawling on the floors, running races, sleeping under shrubs -- you name it, we had it.
After some horrendous acts against children a few years back, rules were set up to deal with unattended juveniles. Signs were prominently posted that read, "We care. Unattended children will be turned over to the Atlantic City Police Department."
If, in a reasonable amount of time, the parent or guardian of the unattended child can't be located, the police are called and the child turned over to Youth and Family Services. The result? There are very few unattended juveniles roaming the casino lobbies or hallways. -- READER IN BRIGANTINE, N.J.
DEAR READER: An effective solution to a serious problem.