In the Travel Zone

Dear Hotel Guest, Due to the popularity of our guest room amenities, our Housekeeping Department now offers these items for sale: Alarm Clocks, $25, Coffee Maker, $50.00, Hairdryer, $45.00, Pillows, $25.00.

And so on. The little plastic sign sits on a counter in my room at the airport hotel. Its price list includes most everything in the room that might fit in my car. A set of sheets costs $60.00. An ironing board $30, with another $30 for the iron. After the price list:

Each guest room attendant is responsible for maintaining the guest room items. Should you decide to take these articles from your room instead of obtaining them from the Executive Housekeeper, we will assume you approve a corresponding charge to your account. Thank you.

Somehow the message doesn’t make me mad, doesn’t arouse my defenses, doesn’t tempt me to find something not on the list to steal. Instead the little sign makes me smile. No small accomplishment. I offer silent congratulations to the writer.

After unzipping my carry-on, digging out pajamas and toothbrush, undressing, entering the tiny bathroom, stepping into the tub, and reaching up — I stop, hand suspended in mid-air.

No shower curtain!

For a moment I’m at a loss. My hand falls to my side. There’s the curtain rod. There are the rings, spaced across the rod. There’s the shower head. There’s the knob. Here am I. We’re all ready for the next act — and yet, no curtain.

I think about calling the desk. They would insist on providing a shower curtain. I’d have to get dressed, wait for the shower curtain guy to show up, then after he hangs the curtain and leaves, get undressed again. I’m tired and grubby after the long bus ride from Port Townsend to SeaTac. It’s late. My watch alarm will go off tomorrow at 3:45 AM.

I’m in the travel zone. I don’t want to wait for a guy with a shower curtain. I just want to take a shower and go to bed.

But if I don’t call the desk, will I end up buying a shower curtain? I get out of the tub and check the list. Shower curtains not offered for sale.

In the end, I take my shower, aiming the spray toward the wall, mopping up afterward. For some reason, the whole episode leaves me feeling pretty good — cheerfully  self-reliant and ready to sink into sleep. Before boarding the shuttle bus in the morning, I’ll mention the missing shower curtain at the desk. But for now, this is all I’m prepared to do, here in the travel zone.

With blessings for all tired pilgrims, and thanks for small surprises on the road,


About Margaret D. McGee


  1. Brad Offutt says:

    Margaret, I’ve seen similar signs in motel rooms, and like you, I didn’t get mad or upset. But I did think about how much stuff motels must lose to “guest theft.” The missing shower curtain might have walked off with somebody who put being cute above being honest. So then it hit me how much any pilgrimage depends on “the shower curtain guy” and others, unseen until we pilgrims need them. Some of them are special people who make the “travel zone” bearable, or even … fun! So blessings for them too.