Ralph G. Green spends a good chunk of his corporate working life peeking under hotel mattresses. He could tell you stories about the things he finds there.
Green, a man who once tossed "Mama" Cass Elliott out of an Arlington, Va., Quality Inn for being a complete slob, also looks behind the drapes and under the night stands. He could tell you stories about the things he finds there, too.
But when Green inspected the Comfort Inn in Linthicum this year, he found nothing particularly interesting. For the management and staff of the 195-room hotel, that was great news. As a result of stellar inspections in May and August, the hotel won the highest honor that its franchise parent, Choice Hotels International, can confer: the gold hospitality award.
Green, the regional franchise director, gave the front office, the housekeeping and the maintenance staffs top grades. Everything was just about perfect, right down to the tuck of the sheets, the spotless bathroom tiles and the desk clerks' etiquette. This makes the Linthicum Comfort Inn, which opened in 1987, one of just 21 hotels to win the gold award out of 1,600 Choice Hotels International hotels that participate in the program under the names Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Sleep Inns and Roadway Inns.
Christine Hunt, a housekeeper from Brooklyn said, "I went home and I said 'Hurrah, hurrah, we got the gold.' My husband said 'What kind of gold?' " "Terrific" was the reaction of Don Gianetti of Glen Burnie, the chief engineer in the maintenance department.
"It felt like all we were working for has come to something," said Steve Hardy, the manager of the front office department.
The award was occasion for a ceremony at the hotel yesterday. A number of candidates in this season's elections were scheduled to appear as corporate executives handed out a gold plaque and gold pins to the staff.
Among the Choice International officials there was Green, who inspects 74 hotels twice a year in Maryland, Delaware and part of New Jersey.
That includes Atlantic City. That's where he found the $1,500 cash under the mattress at the Quality Inn.
As part of his regular inspection, Green lifts the mattresses and takes a look. On this occasion, he lifted the mattress and "all these 20s started trickling down." It may have been a windfall, but it cost the hotel two points for "debris under mattress."
That was the case at the other hotel in New Jersey where Green found a revolver under a mattress.
Then there were the assorted hypodermic syringes, the newspapers under the mattresses and the men's magazines under the night stands.
None of this at the Comfort Inn in Linthicum, said Green. The housekeepers get to the stuff before he does.
"I don't think I've ever found anything here," he said. "Here it's minor things. Maybe a maid forgot to vacuum behind a night stand."