Friday, December 28, 2007

Man vs. Mild

I spent last night at a Holiday Inn Express in Tarboro, North Carolina. When I awoke this morning, I switched on the television and found myself observing an episode of Man vs. Wild. Bear Grylls was roughing it in the wilderness of southern Alaska, braving dangerous terrain, savage weather, the ever-present threat of bear attack, and the arduous battle to keep warm and fed until rescue. I was impressed. But at the conclusion of the episode, I stepped into the shower and became aware of the almost eerie juxtaposition between Grylls' predicament and my own.

As hot water cascaded down my body, I found that the hotel’s complimentary amenities did not include a vial of shampoo. Sure, I had body lotion and conditioner—but using conditioner without shampoo is like squatting in a forest of the Chugach Mountains and trying to flint-strike a fire without kindling. Pondering my conundrum as soothing steam rose around me, it was too late to hike down to the front desk—my only option to forge ahead with a shampoo-less rinse. Predictably, the ordeal left my hair as matted and unmanageable as Alaskan reedgrass. Bear Grylls may have had to glissade down the side of a glacier, but he didn’t have to endure an improperly washed coif…

When you consider the myriad other perils I faced in that Tarboro hotel—a slightly malfunctioning heater that plunged room temperature to 68°, a lumpy pillow, the noisy occupants across the hall, a mini-fridge set all the way down on the floor instead of knee-high on the bureau, and the looming threat of an errant wake-up call—you can see that a night in a hotel can be just as harrowing as a night in the wild.

So the next time you're traipsing through the forest and find yourself face to face with a 900-pound grizzly, Bear, consider what it's like to experience an incompetent hotel clerk who can't tell time...

(Photo of Bear Grylls copyright The Discovery Channel.)

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