I’m Sorry About The Do Not Disturb Sign Thing

I’ve recently noticed that the Do Not Disturb signs in hotels almost always have the same message on both sides. The old signs, with a message on one side to the housekeeper that the room was ready for cleaning, are rare.

While this isn’t a change that’ll end the world, I feel somewhat responsible for the fact that it became necessary. I regret my part in causing it.

English: Common Do not disturb sign of a hotel

Bitte Nicht Storen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I flip other people’s “Do Not Disturb” signs to the “Please Make Up This Room” side.

It started when I was a kid. I’d noticed the sign in a hotel room my family shared. On the way to check out, I flipped my first sign. What could be funnier than some person having a hotel housekeeper walk in on them sleeping? I didn’t know, so I picked a door and changed its “do not disturb” to “make up this room right away.” It was an impulsive, childish thing to do.

Once we were on the road, I told my parents what I’d done. Perhaps it seems odd that I did that. There was some logic in my decision to tell on myself.

I think, as a rule, funny stuff isn’t funny unless you share it. I shared with my mom and dad. They did not see the humor in what I’d done. There are exceptions to every rule.

My parents corrected me. They told me that changing do not disturb signs wasn’t funny. A long time passed before I pulled the sign stunt again.

Once A Sign Flipper…

Decades later, I was in a hotel. I had a class to teach in the morning. A loud party erupted in the room next door. Knocking on the wall didn’t help. Neither did calling the front desk. The party ended around three.

At five-thirty, I went to work. I re-set the alarm clock for six-thirty, turned it up and leaned the speaker side against the wall. There was an alarm setting on the television, I set that for quarter to seven and turned the volume up to eleven. And the icing on the cake was flipping their sign on my way out so the maid would feel free to drop by.

I don’t know if the housekeeper arrived in time to disturb them. I’d like to think so.

An Apology


Not Prawns, Pawns. (Photo credit: James F Clay)

The housekeepers are the innocent victims of my mischief.

As a kid, I didn’t factor that in. I only saw the “humor” of the room occupants being surprised by a stranger in their midst. My ethics have progressed beyond those of an eight-year-old. Sure, the progress has been gradual; some progress is better than none, I think.

So, in addition to apologizing to the entire hospitality industry, I want to apologize to the housekeepers in every inn I’ve ever spent a night in. They’ve been the unwitting pawns in my childhood humor and adult attempts to right hotel wrongs.

I’m sorry.

…Always A Sign Flipper

My dad told me long ago that a leopard doesn’t change his spots. I know he was trying to teach me a lesson about other people. However, in this case, I have to say grrrrrr…or whatever leopards say.

I’ll still flip a sign now and again. When I do, it is usually when I’m traveling with friends. I don’t have any idea why I find it more acceptable to traumatize a hotel maid by exposing my friends to them. I’ll need to do something about that.

Maybe a leopard doesn’t change his spots, but he could cover them with a sweatshirt…right?


30 Comments on “I’m Sorry About The Do Not Disturb Sign Thing”

  1. I think you were justified in flipping the party people’s sign, but yes the housekeepers were more of the “victim” then the occupants. Luckily most of them don’t speak English so hilarity still ensues.

  2. Debbie says:

    Shame on that front desk for not tending to the party next door and putting a stop to it. I’ve never believed that a hotel room is a place for a rambunctious party!
    But obviously, your parents didn’t protest sufficiently to “young Oma” when he confessed to the first tag-flipping. Because if they had, he’d have stopped that stuff long ago!
    Hotel guests need a better way to communicate with the housekeeping staff, anyway. Some rooms don’t even have those tags. Perhaps if guests, upon check-in, were to acknowledge when they want their room cleaned??

    • omawarisan says:

      Well, the folks weren’t watching me anymore when I started back up again.

      I like the idea of specifying when you check in if you want the room serviced. I rarely change my sheets every day at home.

  3. I love this about you.

    Don’t feel too bad for the maids. Now they have those extra latches, so he or she is spared some awful sights, but the occupants are awakened.

  4. Every time I see one of those signs I will think of this post. So wrong and so funny! Now excuse me, I have to double check and make sure someone has not flipped my “Do Not Disturb” sign on my hotel room door 🙂

  5. This is too funny– at least until I happen to find myself sharing a hotel with you… 🙂

  6. No flipping. The guest on the other side of the door might be traveling with two Dobermans, and place the Do Not Disturb sign on the door because she is leaving her Dobe’s out of their crates while grabbing a quick mid morning shower. While showering, housekeeping enters her room, and are greeted by two surprised Dobermans soon followed by a naked women racing out of the shower screaming like a soaped up banshee slipping and sliding while grabbing her dogs. This is not going to be a sight that housekeeping can un-see. And yes their was a double latch on the door that went unnoticed until after the invasion. Going forward, double locks were always in place and signs were never trusted for obvious reasons. I will not send my mother this post.
    Noisy hotel guests deserve whatever comes there way.

  7. Laura says:

    You are a terrible, terrible person.

  8. Daile says:

    Shame on you! But kind of hilarious. Just don’t ever do it to me. I usually have a ‘Do not Disturb’ sign when I’m on holidays and need a sleep in. And I would be super pissed off if a housekeeper burst in on me because the sign is basically my invitation to walk around sans clothing.

  9. Is this equivalent to removing the sign all together? I’m not admitting to that practice, just wondering ….

  10. Katie says:

    They say John Wayne Gacy got his start flipping signs.

  11. omawarisan says:

    Some guys don’t know where to stop.

  12. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    My mother stole some of those signs. She used them at home for a long time. I never did get breakfast delivered to my bedroom, though.

  13. Too bad you never got to stick around long enough to witness the hilarity ensue.

  14. Lizi says:

    Wow, you too? Solidarity. Just don’t tell my parents.

  15. Betty says:

    The party people definitely deserved it. I’m going to have to remember that for Vegas next year. But the others, the innocent? I’m a bit shocked that you do this.

  16. Having spent more than one summer working in housekeeping, may I say there really isn’t much a maid has not seen. In fact I confess to, upon occasion, flipping a sign so I could roust the people inside, clean their room, finish my shift and still get in some beach time. I love what you did to the party people. My only thought is that I wish I had thought of it on any one of the occasions I was in a similar dilemma.

  17. Tony McGurk says:

    Awesome idea with the alarm clock & tv. I’ve been in that situation but never thought of your payback idea. I will remember it for future instances. When I was between my last job redundancy & my current job I had a part time job as a motel cleaner. I once accidently got the wrong room number & walked into a room on a rather attractive young woman.. Luckily/unfortunately she wasn’t doing anything that a man-maid may have been shocked/entertained by

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