Okay, I admit it: I am a thief. Every time I stay in a motel, hotel or guest house, I take the shampoo, conditioner, soap and body lotion. Fifty, maybe one hundred, bottles and bars of individually packaged cleansing agents — ranging from high-end organic to cheap chemical solutions I would personally never use — fill my luggage and overflow into my Jeep. I even take the no-name mouthwash.
Sometimes I dream of displaying these items in my guest bathroom as I have seen my aunt Barb do with her soaps from Norwegian and Finnish hotel chains. Then I remember I live in a 500 square-foot, one bathroom apartment in New York City. Other times, I consider giving baskets as gift to friends who have too many bathrooms and not enough people to fill them. But then who would really appreciate a bathing basket of Quality Inn and Motel 8 shampoos and soaps?
In reality most of these hermetically sealed soaps and shot-glass sized bottles end up under my sink in a plastic shopping bag. There they rest, along with assorted other items I rarely, if ever, use. Why then am I collecting them?
The best answer I am able to provide is this: I want to feel as though I am getting my money’s worth. If I spend $59, $89, $109 or more on a room for the night, I want to believe that I maximizing my money. If all I do it sleep and shower, I think I am not getting the most out of the situation because I then have to spend money on food, soap and other essentials.
If, however, in addition to resting my weary bones, I get free breakfast (and take extra for lunch), take a dip in the pool, maybe get a cookie at check in, well then, I think I have gotten a deal more for the same amount of money. “Deal” being the key word.
So that’s the rationale, but here’s the problem: these bottles and bars are just more junk I really don’t need. And besides, I consume too much as it is. The last things the landfills need are more tiny soap bottles, wrappers or used tidbits from my travels.
Maybe instead of taking these things at the conclusion of a stay, my practice should be to leave an extra soap or two at the next few motels. At the very least, it might amuse the cleaning staff and maybe even save the next person from a life of soap thievery.