Recently Spouse and I stayed at a hotel chain in New Hampshire. The hotel was well taken care of and the food was excellent, in particular each evening’s decadent desserts. We did, however, experience the latest phenomenon in our society’s quest to cram as much stuff into as little space as possible: hotel amenity shrinkage.

 While attending the annual columnists’ conference we found ourselves facing a shower stall big enough for a 10-year-old to stand perfectly still. After the first morning, we compared notes on how to wash without leaning on the door and finding ourselves sprawled out on the bathroom floor. 

That morning, I had carefully positioned a washcloth inside the stall, knowing there was no way I’d be able to rinse any part of me without some help. This shower didn’t have a square inch of extra space and – worse than that – there wasn’t even a small corner pedestal that you could plant your foot on and reach down to lather and rinse. I finally concocted a method where I squeezed suds onto the tops of my feet from my washcloth and sort of rubbed the lather into my toes with the other foot. Not satisfied with this scenario, I stretched as far down to the shower floor as I could, more or less swiping my feet with the washcloth. The washcloth zigged, my left hip zagged, and the hotel shower door popped open. Steam was rolling out as cool air rushed in and water saturated the floor mat. My soapy fingers lunged after the handle and slammed the door shut. Once I finally rinsed off, I opened the shower door to the watery mess my hip mishap had made. I tossed my clean towel on the floor, tippy-toed to the shelf under the sink and grabbed another one to dry off with. It was a soppy start to my day.

 Later in the day I searched out the hotel restroom during a break in the conference. Once I positioned myself, my leg was pressed against a cold metal frame jutting out from the wall on one side of the stall. The contraption contained seat covers on the top and two rolls of toilet paper on the bottom. It was about two feet long and maybe four inches out from the wall. They couldn’t think of a better design that wouldn’t make you feel like you’re trapped behind a metal barrier while you’re taking care of business?

The other strange thing was that a small utility door next to the shower was open when we arrived. I had noticed it when we first got to the room and figured someone had forgotten to close it. Had I realized nobody had an actual reason to open it in the first place, I would have been more appreciative of the fact that Spouse was painstakingly shutting the wretched door each time it popped open. Eventually he and his ever-present bottle opener managed to fix it from flinging open on its own, a victim of misalignment. How is it that men always have some kind of MacGyver-ish paperclip-nail-file-qtip fix when they’re not home? On our last day, I happened to notice the bathroom light switch plate was slightly crooked. Good thing I didn’t mention it or Spouse would have been realigning it with a toothpick and the hotel key card.

 Even though that door-not-staying-closed theme seemed to be in the forefront, our room was quite nice. We had a king-size bed that I swear could have slept eight, a large desk, a decent sized refrigerator and one of those requisite, cushy lounge chairs with a seat cushion that you need a crane to get out of, and which could easily swallow a small child.

I would still give this hotel a good rating because for the most part it was a comfortable stay and I can overlook minor discomforts like almost flinging myself through a shower door. But as soon as they start shrinking the dessert portions, I’m outta there.

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