Don’t drink the water!
Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 8:01 pm
Word of caution: If you’re in an expensive high-end hotel and your mama raised you with some common sense, don’t drink the water. It’s a trap. It’s a test to see if you’re naive enough to follow the herd. Whatever you do, don’t do it. Unfortunately, I did. I drank the water and I’ve lived to tell this cautionary tale.
It was a hot and sunny day. I had just checked into a beautiful resort hotel in southern Arizona where I would be speaking the next day. As the desk clerk checked me in, he asked a simple question, “Would you like the key to the mini-bar?” I knew what was in the mini-bar. The mini-bar was filled with $5 Snickers bars, $6 mini-bags of graham crackers, $8 cans of Diet Coke, etc. My reply was simple, “Are you kidding? I was raised by parents who carried boxes of Raisin Bran into Super 8 Motels all over the United States. No, thank you. I definitely do not need the key to the mini-bar.” While proudly carrying my own bags to the room, I smiled with sweet satisfaction knowing that in my suitcase right between my curling iron and black dress pants was a small can of generic peanuts, an appl, and a too-ripe banana from home. (Bananas had been on sale at 29 cents per pound) I had beaten the system. Mama would be proud.
As I entered the room, it was warm and stuffy. There was a large bottle of water on the bathroom sink. I gleefully opened it and downed its contents within a matter of minutes. After a good night’s sleep, I happily fulfilled my mission at the conference. While rushing to the airport late that afternoon, I glanced at the empty bottle and noticed a tiny label with miniscule writing on the side, “This bottle of water is $7 and will be added to your room charges.” SEVEN DOLLARS? I’ve worn outfits that cost less than that! Had I not been in a rush to the airport, I would have spoken to the management right then. The more I thought about the $7 water, the more aggravated I became. While looking out the window of the airplane, I didn’t think about the speech or the conference. I thought about the water. I plotted my course. I couldn’t let them defeat me. It was the principle of the thing.
The next day I composed a gracious e-mail to the hotel manager. I tried to find positive things to say about his facility and his corporation. The hotel staff was friendly. The conference facility was large and beautiful. However, I found that it was a bit ridiculous to place a bottle of water on the bathroom sink and then charge $7 for drinking it. It should have been placed in the mini-bar with all the other over-priced items. I also mentioned that the price of the hotel room for one night was more than the monthly rent on our first apartment and that they might consider just giving water away. You know ... as a humanitarian act of goodwill. When the manager replied to my e-mail, he said that my host (the company who paid for my room) didn’t balk at the water charge and that as long as it didn’t come out of my pocket, he couldn’t see what the problem was. Truthfully, the manager’s attitude is what’s wrong with America. Waste is waste, regardless of who foots the bill. A painful lesson was learned that fateful day in Arizona ... a lesson I’m willing to share. If a hotel room costs more than the monthly rent on your first apartment, don’t drink the water.
For more information, visit the Web site lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.14.09
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View