IT was reported the other week that a US company has invented a washable microchip to track robes, towels and bed linens stolen from hotel rooms.
Theft apparently costs the industry millions each year. A Honolulu hotel, which introduced the technology, claims to have reduced theft of its pool towels from 4000 a month to just 750, two figures I found deliriously far-fetched.
For those who manage to smuggle their towel through the hotel lobby like sweating drug mules, I can see a reality TV show: Hotel Cops. Fugitives are brought to justice in their homes: “Hands up! We have reason to believe you have an illegal hotel towel in your possession!” Then from another room, “Oh my god, Brian, come quick,” as they kick over a garbage bag filled with mini-shampoos. In the background the music score: “Bad boys, bad boys… what ya gonna do when they come for you.”
My own hotel theft story is even better than this. For my wedding we flew my fiancé’s eccentric parents to Melbourne and put them in a luxury hotel for two nights. His late parents, as I have written before, were Holocaust survivors and already had a very strange relationship with the world. Eva, for instance, would keep cupboards full to the brim of canned tomatoes, beans, asparagus, just in case the Nazis invaded Bondi. They had never flown before, having come to Australia by boat.
But they took to hotel life like ducks to water. When it came time to leave, the bill for two nights came to more than $1000. We couldn’t understand, given we’d paid the accommodation in advance and taken them out for meals. The mini-bar tab listed two bottles of Moët, countless bottles of wine and mini-spirits, chocolates, nuts, and four towels. “Mum, Dad, you don’t drink alcohol! What happened here?” We opened the heavy suitcases and there were the items. “What are you doing?” we yelled.
Eva was totally baffled. She said, “Dey were so kind to us. Dey give us all of dis food. We didn’t want to be rude.”
We pay hotels enough to stay in them. Should we be entitled to keep a few souvenirs?