Slices of Life...One of the worst inventions ever
Some inventions are too good to be true. Hotel pool towels aren't one of them. I'm referring to the thin, white terry cloth impersonators with the distinguishing blue stripe down the middle that possess the absorbency equal to less than half of o...
Some inventions are too good to be true. Hotel pool towels aren’t one of them.
I’m referring to the thin, white terry cloth impersonators with the distinguishing blue stripe down the middle that possess the absorbency equal to less than half of one side of a Q-tip. Heck, I need two of ’em to dry off my elbow - and that’s before I go into the hot tub.
Inventions often come out of necessity. Historically, towel theft was a common and big problem for hotels. I myself can’t see the logic in it. Why swipe your credit card for a hundred or more bucks for a one-night stay and then swipe a $10 towel? Doesn’t make sense. Then again, neither does pinching a half-ounce of shampoo or body lotion - and nobody’s ever done that.
Besides, if you are like me, there wouldn’t be room in your jam-packed suitcase for the bulk of a towel - or towels if you are hoping for a matching pair to hang proudly in your bathroom at home. The blue stripe would coordinate with almost any decorating scheme.
Logic or no, hotels battled with stolen-towel syndrome, and sought a method to combat the situation. I imagine an inventor (let’s call him Abe Sorbency) contemplating a way to keep terry cloth fanatics from stealing hotel pool towels.
“I know,” he said. “We’ll make them ugly and nonabsorbent and half the size of a normal towel - completely undesirable. No one will even think about taking them home.”
I understand most of the rationale. Tiny, thin towels are cheaper to purchase. Hotels are in the business of making money. Ka-ching!
How or why Abe stumbled on the blue stripe design is a mystery, however. Maybe it was his least favorite color. Maybe he associated blue with the water in the pool. Maybe he was a fan of seersucker. Maybe he wanted to make sure the super-thin towel wasn’t mistaken for the white one-ply toilet paper used by most hotels.
Whatever the line of thinking, the iconic hotel pool towel was born. What it lacks in absorbency, it makes up for in numbers. Thousands, perhaps millions, of these ugly, quasi-effective cloths have been distributed to lodging establishments across the country. They’ve become as familiar to a hotel stay as miniature bars of soap and plastic ice buckets.
On numerous occasions, I’ve attempted - without much luck - to wrap one of the blue striped bandanas around my posterior. Their size leaves much to be desired; they were definitely not designed with the average-sized mom in mind.
As hotel patrons, we aren’t left with much choice but to make do with the shabby rectangular cloths passing themselves off as towels. We could bring our own from home, but that would further complicate the full suitcase situation, not to mention create more laundry - and that’s never a good thing.
So after splashing in the pool or relaxing by the hot tub, we grab a few and drape and wrap and do our best to cover the parts that really need covering and perhaps dry off a bit in the process.
I suppose it’s not so bad and things could be worse. Hotels could stop supplying the towels altogether. Or (shudder) they could start charging for shampoo.
C loquet writer Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.