Welcome to Portland, check under your bed! Friday night Michigan resident Frank Escamilla rolled in to town to look into buying a house in cheerful Stumptown. He stayed at the most budget-conscious place he could find: the Thriftlodge on East Burnside and SE 9th.

"The whole building smelled like urine, especially in the rooms. It was pretty gross," says Escamilla. Things quickly got worse. Just to play it safe, Escamilla decided to check under his mattress for signs of bedbugs. No bugs droppings in sight, but wedged between the two boxsprings supporting the mattresses he spotted a black plastic bag. Gingerly, Escamilla picked up the bag and dumped it out on the bedside table—out rolled a cotton swab and three hypodermic needles.


Thriftlodge - full of pricks. Taken by Frank Escamilla.

"I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. I flipped out a little," says Escamilla, who walked down the block to Green Dragon and tried to chill out over a drink. Getting pricked by those needles would have put Escamilla at risk for contracting serious diseases, like HIV/AIDS.

In the end Escamilla decided to what any respectable Portlander would do: he blogged about it. And then checked out of the Thriftlodge and checked into a much more expensive hotel out in safe, safe Beaverton. After some tense negotiations, Escamilla got his money back for the room.

Thriftlodge manager Shan Karia says he was surprised to see needles, but his staff has found them before in rooms. "We've found them in the dressers, it happens in the industry," Karia says, apologizing for the incident. The Burnside Thriftlodge's cleaning policy is to only check under mattresses once every three months.