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The Column

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Bathroom
2/9/03

I have spent much of the morning staring at my hotel's complimentary bottle of water and wondering why it is not complimentary at all. Drinking it would have resulted in an automatic charge of $5 to my credit card, which is still mad at me from the last time it was charged.

The hotel refers to this water as a convenience, while I refer to it as a paperweight; that's all a warm undrinkable bottle of water on my desk is good for. The do-not-disturb-esque sign that still hangs around the water's neck informed me that the water will be refreshed daily. Since water doesn't spoil, I'm a bit confused. And since Aquafina isn't fresh to begin with, how can it be refreshed? Most importantly, do they sell the day-old water on the street, marked down to an inexpensive $3.50?

Ironically, the second half of the Aquafina slogan is "we promise nothing," which is exactly what water costs you when you are provided simultaneously with a faucet, a glass, and opposable thumbs.

I pondered all of this to occupy myself while trying to pass the time in my room. I finally went out to a local grocery store and purchased my own, slightly smaller bottle of Aquafina and placed it next to the other two to confuse the housekeeper. I even left a note around its neck.

"For your convenience, the other two bottles of Aquafina have mated. Should you choose to consume their offspring, your credit card will be charged 89 cents, which is the actual price for a bottle of Aquafina."

The humor was lost on my housekeeper, whose only English word is "houskeepee!" which is as much of an English word as the bottles of water are complimentary. I thought of calling the manager and telling him I had a problem in my room just so that someone who spoke English would come upstairs and have a chance to see just how clever I can be when I'm bored.

The water in my shower this morning was free, which is probably because the pressure was so low that not much came out by the time I was done. The extra small towel I was provided was perfect, since I wasn't all that wet.

The "big" towels are too small for the standard "wrap and tuck" maneuver, the hand towels are literally the size of your hand, and the bath mat is the only regular sized piece of terrycloth in the room. Except the "big" towels are so small that you never know which towel is for the floor and which is to wrap around half of your waist. I think I may have accidentally chosen to wrap myself in the bath mat, since my towel only reached from my hip to my bellybutton, whereas the big hotel towel usually reaches from my hip to two inches past my bellybutton.

Hotels make things smaller so that they save money when people steal them - an idea that also explains the soaps and shampoos. Though I wonder how many people staying at a classy hotel would steal a full bottle of Head and Shoulders. And if I did swipe it, couldn't the hotel just charge my credit card? If a $1 bottle of water costs me $5, I can only imagine how much extra money this place could make off of a stolen $6 bottle of shampoo. I'd get home and my credit card would be maxxed out, which is very convenient for my creditors that want an excuse to repossess all of my belongings. Hopefully, they'd leave a do-not-disturb-esque note around my neck.

"For your convenience, we have taken your credit card. Should you want it back, your credit card will be charged five dollars."

The shampoo has no note about it being refreshed, which makes me think that there's a big vat and a funnel somewhere in the bowls of the hotel. Actually, I don't think that at all. They probably throw it out, but I wanted an excuse to print the phrase, "bowels of the hotel."

The one thing I really don't understand in all of this is why the bathroom is the only thing that is theft proof. In the main room, there are hangers, two phones, an alarm clock, framed pictures, magazines, a coffee maker, an ice bucket, and 14 layers of bed sheets. Though the TV is nailed down. The apparent problem in hotels is people pilfering the bathroom supplies and 32-inch electronics, and hiding them in their luggage and/or piano cases. Or perhaps foldout pockets on suitcases have gotten impressively large.

Beyond five-dollar water, the other complimentary features of the hotel include a locked minibar, a room service menu with overly inflated prices, and the wonderfully ironic free option to watch pay-per-view.

Not everything in the hotel room, however, will cost you. The coffee and tea is free to any guest, and located next to the very expensive warm water. For your convenience, of course.

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