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Cell Phone Chargers are the No. 1 Item
 Left Behind by Hotel Guests
By Michelle Machado, The Record, Stockton, Calif.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

May 27, 2006 - STOCKTON -- About 5 million Californians are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend, and some of them will leave behind more than rumpled bedsheets and soggy bath towels in vacated hotel rooms.

There's such run-of-the-mill stuff as clothes, shoes and pillows.

"Cell phone chargers are No. 1," said Florida Iturralde, front-office manager for Fairfield Inn Marriott in Tracy.

And then there are the odd finds -- items that should be missed immediately, such as false teeth and prosthetic limbs.

"Pretty much everything you can think of has been left here," said Angel Lopez, a guest services representative for Comfort Inn of Stockton.

Comfort Inn maintains a pages-long log of the left-behind items that crowd a walk-in closet.

The 122-room hotel used to hold lost-and-found articles for 60 days; it now keeps them for 30.

The closet "would be so packed, we'd have to climb over stuff to get to the back," Lopez said.

Some forgotten items are small -- jewelry, contact lenses -- but others are hard-to-miss-in-a-room-inspection kinds of objects that range from stereos to strollers and playpens to PlayStation consoles.

Absent-minded hotel guests also have walked away from pool cues, portable poker tables and a host of other, more personal, adult toys.

Rebecca Garcia, who has worked at La Quinta Inn in Stockton for 21 years, said the hotel holds even X-rated items for 90 days.

Except for photos, most remain unclaimed.

When a guest calls and identifies a forgotten item, La Quinta picks up the return mailing costs, she said.

Best Western Executive in Manteca also ships left articles but only COD.

Shellie Stapleton has worked its front desk for three years, during which housekeeping staff retrieved a cast-off wedding dress from a vacated room.

Whether the dressless bride decided she'd never need the gown again or wanted no lasting wedding-day reminder remains a mystery for Stapleton.

Best Western guests also have left a veritable smorgasbord of food in the hotel's rooms.

"One time, someone left three or four huge salamis, the deli kind that are about 2 feet long," Stapleton said.

Last month, housekeeping staff opened a mini fridge packed with pickled asparagus, presumably from the Stockton Asparagus Festival.

For two weeks, the spears sat unclaimed in the larger motel refrigerator before being tossed in the trash.

And then there's the forgotten stuff that makes hotel managers lose their appetites.

Eight years ago, when Banu Dhami was training to be manager at Days Inn of Stockton, housekeepers found several bags of blood in a room.

Staff immediately contacted San Joaquin General Hospital, whose label was affixed to the transfusion bags.

"We didn't want anything to do with it," Dhami said.

Contact reporter Michelle Machado at (209) 943-8547 or mmachado@recordnet.com

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Record, Stockton, Calif.

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