A piece on Donald Trump’s new Trump International Hotel & Tower in Dubai brings us a bed bug sighting in the New York Observer’s Style section:
Which brought us to the host, developer Donald Trump. “The building is going to be something the likes of which has never been done before,” he said of the soaring, sailboat-style glass tower, which recalled to this reporter the Cooper Square Hotel now looming over the Bowery.
Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, suggested the posh accommodations would be “very comparable to the best you have in New York, and vice versa.”
Any fear of bedbugs in Dubai? (See The Observer’s Summer Phobias report on page C1.)
“Everything’s brand new out there, so I’m sure they don’t have bedbugs,” his lovely wife, Vanessa, interjected.
“Most of it didn’t exist five years ago, so there’s probably not too much of an issue with bedbugs—and certainly not the places we’re staying,” the younger Mr. Trump said.
“No, you won’t have any—I promise,” Trump père said with a wink.
They probably don’t have any right now, if the place is brand new. But then people move in and in time, even in the poshest environment, someone is going to bring in a bed bug.
As for the future, hopefully Mr. Trump has his bed bug prevention and management plan ducks in a row.
Among NewYorkers’ summer phobias such as public urination, lightning, and bolting carriage horses, the Observer identifies a fear of picking up bed bugs:
Speaking of Duane Reade, my girlfriend and I were there on a recent Saturday afternoon, buying a can of Pronto bedbug-killing spray. We’d just scored a couple of end tables at a sidewalk sale, and despite the fact the sellers lived in an immaculate brownstone, we couldn’t help shake the thought that any secondhand goods purchased in or around New York might be a vessel for those tiny, blood-sucking vermin that have induced psychological terror across the five boroughs.
How did it get to the point where some of us can’t even go to a flea market without worrying that it might have, well, actual fleas?
Um, well, maybe because it’s now true that they might have bed bugs!
Picking up bed bugs in an end table from a Park Slope stoop sale is not an irrational fear, and has got to be much more likely than being run down by a runaway horse in Central Park.
(If it were not so, you would be reading horsecarnage.com).
The article goes on to try and reassure us with the latest HPD statistics:
According to Neill Coleman, a spokesman for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, it’s hard to assess the true threat. He said there’s been an increase in the number of bedbug complaints and violations over the past several years (in fiscal year 2004, HPD had 537 complaints, versus 8,840 complaints and 4,243 violations so far in fiscal year 2008, records show), but he also noted that bedbugs make up only a fraction of the more than 500,000 violations the department issues each year.
There are over 16 times as many official bed bug complaints as there were four years ago, and nearly half result in violations. It seems like bed bug cases are multiplying fast.
Of course, for those who assume someone with bed bugs would call 311 to report them as a housing violation, those numbers might seem “manageable.” My own observations suggest the vast majority do not call 311.
But the Observer clearly thinks there’s no cause to adjust your behavior in order to avoid bed bugs.
Still, people like Emilia Rich, 28, of Greenpoint aren’t taking any chances. Her phobia started last year when two small red bumps appeared on her arm, and a co-worker suggested they could be from bedbugs (false alarm). Now she gets freaked out whenever she sees mattresses on the curb on garbage night, so much so that she walks to the other side of the street. As for furniture, she’s sticking with IKEA.
“Buying furniture at a stoop sale?” Ms. Rich said. “That’s not even an option!”
Smart thinking, Emilia.
You don’t have to live in a state of constant panic, but avoiding New York City stoop sales during the current bed bug crisis is probably a good idea.
Not having bed bugs when you think you do is good luck, but it hardly means you should not have some concerns about picking them up.