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Hotels should make clear if pocketing food, tissues is OK
A well-traveled reader claims that his spouse is one of
the world's great hoarders when they're on the road.
"If we're eating breakfast at a hotel and they serve
us three rolls," he explains, his spouse will eat one roll and slip the
other two into the backpack for later. If there's an all-you-can-eat breakfast
buffet, his spouse will take a few extra packaged cheeses for lunch.
"It's saved us many a meal," the reader writes.
But the spouse doesn't stop at the dining table. In hotel
rooms, the spouse will walk out with the Kleenex box or toiletries.
"We don't take towels or such, but food or
toiletries?" His spouse, he writes, is a master.
"So here's my ethical question: Where should a
traveler draw the line? If you paid for the room, can you take the Kleenex? If
you've paid for breakfast, but don't eat that much, can you save food for
lunch? What are the limits?"
In the past, readers have asked similar questions. One
admitted deliberately going to a local all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant while
they were still serving breakfast -- but just as they began setting out lunch --
so he could partake of each. He wanted to know if this was a kosher practice
(straddling meals, not the meal itself). As long as the restaurant hadn't
posted any notice that patrons were only paying for breakfast or lunch, I said
he'd done nothing wrong.
Several other readers have asked about taking home the
toiletries set out for their use in hotel/motel rooms. As long as these items
were intended for their personal consumption, there's no harm in keeping them.
In fact, I pointed out, some hotels have formed relationships with
not-for-profit organizations such as Clean the World and the Global Soap Project to
send unused shampoos and soaps to developing nations. Travelers can contribute
themselves if they wish.
But what of the world-class hoarding spouse? If the
couple is served three rolls and eats only one, there's nothing wrong with
saving the other two for later. It seems akin to asking for a doggie bag.
Taking a handful of Kleenex to use while out traveling and away from the hotel
seems a fair practice, as well.
But taking packaged food from a buffet table with no
intention of eating it during that meal, and removing a full-size box of
Kleenex from a hotel room goes beyond the intention of the provider. Granted,
my reader's spouse is certainly not the only person to do such things; the
hotel where the couple stayed probably anticipates the cost of such activities.
If so, the right thing would be for the hotel to make
clear to patrons that they're welcome to take a piece of cheese or fruit with
them for the day, or pack the Kleenex. Or guests can simply ask at the front
desk or in the dining area if it's OK to take extra. They shouldn't have to
wonder if it's OK or not -- even if they believe everyone else is doing it.