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Every hot dog has its day.
By Ian Jarrett ~ The Grumpy Traveller
Sunday, 24th July 2005
 
The Grumpy Traveller has a confession to make. In an earlier existence as a journalist on a national newspaper in England, I took my wife and our dog to stay at a wonderful old hotel in Dunster, a village in Somerset.

As it was a working trip, my newspaper was picking up the tab for the hotel, so I discreetly asked the receptionist to ensure that the account was made out in my name only.

Mr and Mrs Grumpy and Fido on the account might have alerted the company's accountants to ask why they were paying for a spoiled golden retriever to stay in five star luxury.

At that time, of course, you could arrive at an English country hotel with a pack of bloodhounds and no one at reception would blink an eyelid.

Mr and Mrs Grumpy, along with our dog, settled in for the night in front of a roaring log fire, with a bottle of French Bordeaux for us and a packet of Bonio Bites for Fido.

Next morning I paid the account and noted with some satisfaction that the bill was made out to me.

It was only the following week, back in the office, when I sat down to write up my expenses claim that I noticed the word ‘Dog' on the bill, accompanied by a small charge.

After pondering this item for several minutes, I wrote the word Hot next to Dog.

Easy, if asked, I had ordered a late night hot dog in the room.

The item was never queried and on a scale of one to 10, this would have rated no more than two on a reporters' scale of expenses chicanery.

I was reminded of the Hot Dog deception this week by a survey carried out by hotel chain Travelodge and recruitment firm Office Angels. The two companies interviewed PAs and secretaries about the claims they had submitted on behalf of their bosses

Among them, a £20,000 bill to respray a private helicopter, and a claim for two tonnes of dried white bait to secure a Zimbabwean hunting licence.

The only thing that surprised me about these claims was that they were considered excessive. I think they were so inventive they deserved to be paid.

The executive who resprayed his helicopter probably wanted to match the colour to that of his girl friend's green eyes.

And what's a couple of piles of smelly whitebait when you get the chance to take a few pot shots at big game – perhaps even a president – in Zimbabwe.

Now if only I had thought of whitebait instead of hot dogs…



IAN JARRETT is based in Fremantle, Western Australia from where he travels frequently in Asia on assignments for travel magazines.

He is a member of the BamBoo Alliance, a group of leading travel writers in the region. He can be contacted at ianjarrett@mac.com
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