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October 9, 2012

"There's an elephant in my bathroom!"


Above, the water closet mise-en-scène that greeted friend and reader Paul Biba last week when he checked into his room at the Hampton Inn in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a stop on his cross-country solo bike trip.

Paul told me that though as a rule he doesn't leave a tip for the maid, he made an exception in this case and dropped a fiver on the sink.

What an enterprising, clever person is the woman who thought of taking a few seconds extra to fold washcloths on her route into this whimsical heffalump.

I'm betting Paul is not the only person who breaks his or her rule upon encountering this unexpected delight and leaves a little cash present behind.

There is genius and creativity everywhere: it is all around us, if only we give it a chance to breathe and play.

If I'm an employer in the Las Cruces area, I'm dropping everything today and making a beeline for the Hampton Inn to meet this maid and offer her a job in my company at twice what she's making.

You say "joe, that's nuts —  you don't know if she can read or even speak English!"

Doesn't matter: A mind like hers transcends such mundane skills and offers a whole new view of the world to whomever she happens to encounter. 

That's priceless.

October 9, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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1. Google "towel folding origami"

2. On tipping: When a pizza by delivery has a 'delivery charge', do you still tip? If so, Why?

Posted by: stcoleridge | Oct 10, 2012 1:50:02 PM

I've not been on a cruise, as I'm still too young ;-) but it would be a challenge to find an upscale hotel in Thailand that doesn't have towel animals.

Posted by: Fred | Oct 9, 2012 11:11:49 PM

I always tip the housekeeping service. They are not well paid and even if I don't trash my room, they have to clean up after lots of people who do.

Posted by: Whmom2 | Oct 9, 2012 4:03:27 PM

The reason for having a rule against tipping a maid is that what a maid does is partly what you are paying for. It would be like paying the chef to make your meal, even though clearly putting it together is part of the cost of the food listed on the menu that you order.

And not to downplay good service, but towel animals are de rigueur in certain hospitality settings, such as cruises. So, it is entirely possible that the maid learned it from the hotel management, from previous employment or from a family member that works on cruise ships and so forth. It isn't necessarily a sign of creativity.

Example: http://i.imgur.com/mNLS4.jpg

Posted by: Scott Jenkins | Oct 9, 2012 10:51:43 AM

Why would anyone have a rule against tipping the maid? They are probably the worst paid and worst treated of all hotel/motel employees. Maybe if you are poor guy cycling across the US...but the maid is the one person in the hotel I always tip. In my life I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about $5 here or there any longer. It wasn't always that way. I am very aware of the difference $5 can make to someone who has to struggle for gas or bus fare.

Posted by: Charlotte K | Oct 9, 2012 10:33:36 AM

Dare I ask: How do you know it was a woman?

== PT

Posted by: PT | Oct 9, 2012 10:27:32 AM

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