Grandpa Webb's blog

Monday, 20 January 2014

I'm a little bit out of my comfort zone

Grandma and I are at a hotel for the weekend. We got a discount because it is off season and we booked late, but the room is quite good, not too cramped and although it overlooks the car park, it isn't situated over the dustbins or anything nasty.

Grandpa WebbEverything seems fine as we unpack our suitcase and hang our stuff in the wardrobe. Except for one thing: from somewhere in the room there is a fairly muted, but insistent buzzing sound. We turn off the air conditioning. It's still there. We check the extractor fan is off in the en suite bathroom. It's off.

We telephone reception. A man appears. He checks the en suite, checks that the air-con is off, and then says it is probably the Jacuzzi in the room above. He leaves. 

The buzzing is still there. I go down to reception and while I am about to negotiate a change of room, the phone rings. It’s grandma who has tracked down the buzz, which is coming from a small refrigerator built into the dressing table. Relief all round, particularly after the lady on reception says there isn't a Jacuzzi in the room above because we are on the top floor.

The man reappears, prises the dressing table away from the wall, and switches off the fridge. Peace at last.

Fancy a cup of tea? As well as the refrigerator, there's a sliding shelf built into the dressing table and on it is a small kettle, a teapot, two cups and assorted teabags and sachets of coffee. I fill the kettle, click the switch and put it on its power supply. Nothing happens. No red light, no heat. Nothing. The power point is plugged in, and it is switched on.

"The kettle doesn't work," I tell grandma.

"Never mind," she says. "We can't bother reception again. We'll get a cup of tea in the bar if you really want one."

I write a note for the chambermaid. Nothing complicated. Just KETTLE DOESN'T WORK in big capitals on a sheet of hotel paper and leave it on the dressing table. That should do the trick.

I decide to take a shower. It's been a long trip and I need to freshen up before an evening meal. In the bathroom are small bottles of body wash, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. I get in the shower and start soaping myself with what turns out to be body moisturiser.

How can you make a mistake like that? Well, it's quite easy. Like most of my friends in my age group, I use glasses for reading. I don't wear them while I am taking a shower, and the writing on these bottles that tells you what's inside is so minuscule, even if I had my glasses on, I would need a magnifying glass to see it clearly.

Grandpa WebbI know they have to put a long list of ingredients on the bottle and a warning about not getting the stuff in your eyes, but surely what’s inside is just as important. As it turns out I end up washing myself in shampoo, but at least I smell nice when I have finished.

When I get home I measure the size of the type. The identity of the stuff inside the bottle is in letters about 1mm high. In printer’s language that’s around 3 point, which is extremely small. Too small for me to read standing in the shower.   

Next morning the chambermaid ignores the note about the kettle. She demonstrates to grandma that there is nothing wrong with the kettle at all - what you have to do is turn it to a special position on the tray so the on/off switch sits in a little recess. 

I'll tell you one thing. Now I have passed the entrance exam I will be going back to that hotel again. I wouldn't want to risk going to another one and having to learn something different.

I suppose you could call it a sort of loyalty scheme...

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