Have you noticed that certain things are missing from hotel rooms lately? I am not suggesting a rash of thefts – I mean items that were once routinely found and no longer are. Specifically, I’m referring to towel bars and Gideon Bibles.
Why newly renovated or built hotel bathrooms frequently have no towel bars is beyond me. I understand that a bathroom missing this necessity initially looks sleek and uncluttered. However, that is only until one uses one’s towel. At that point, what are you supposed to do with it? Drape it over the tub or plunk it next to the sink? Neither option seems terribly attractive.
Not only is the option unattractive, it also seems contradictory. While I dislike the policy that asks me to save energy by reusing my rumpled towel and informs me that only towels on the floor will be replaced, not having a towel bar makes the floor look tempting . Surely even people who are greenophiles hurl their towels to the floor in disgust when they can’t find a better place for them. In fact, faced with a modern-looking bathroom minus a towel bar and despite the fact that my mother drilled into me that one does not throw towels on the floor, my husband and I tend to request extra towels and toss more than our fair share downwards.
The missing Bible probably affects fewer people. We notice it because in preparing speeches in a city we are visiting, we sometimes want to see what the English translation of the Bible says. For years, we have counted on popping open the bedside table’s drawer and pulling out a Bible. Alas, it is frequently no longer there. The Bible’s presence dates back to 1908, when the Gideon Association, founded by Christian businessmen in 1899, decided that placing Bibles in hotel rooms would enhance their mission. For decades, the Gideons have presented Bibles to hotels, and they estimate that about 25% of visitors read them.
No more. Many hotel chains no longer distribute the Bibles. Standard room fare is more likely to include coffee makers and hypo-allergenic pillows. Some boutique locations associated with major chains even provide courtesy condoms.
I believe in free enterprise. Hotels cater to their paid guests and Christian businessmen are no longer the large demographic they once were. Nevertheless, the missing Bible saddens me, reflecting as it does, society’s changing values.