The Mini Bar

My first business trip is coming up next week. I’m going to NC.

I’m also on a diet, so I have special needs. My nutritionist suggested I call the hotel and ask if they have a fridge in the room. I complained that it would be full of alcohol and snacks, but she said I could ask them to remove all that stuff. I didn’t know you could do that!

So I call the hotel and get a girl with the sweetest Southern lilt in her voice–couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19.

I go, “Do you have refrigerators in the rooms?”

She goes, “Yes sir. Refrigerators in every room.”

“Do the refrigerators have booze and snacks in them?”

She goes, “Sir, no. We don’t have nothing like that around here. No, sir.”

This is exactly the answer I wanted, but she says it in a way that makes me think she thinks I wanted booze and snacks in my refrigerator. Maybe it’s that lilt in her voice, but I start to feel a little self-conscious, a little guilty. I start to feel like maybe I should explain about my diet, the nutritionist, the fact that this is my very first business trip and that my wife usually deals with snacks. Instead I just say, “Great!”

Then this sweet (surely) innocent girl repeats, “No sir. Not around here.”

Now I’m starting to wonder if my colleague has booked us rooms at the Jerry Falwell Hotel. I should have asked for a fifth of Jack, a gallon of cheap wine, and a big bag or Doritos just to see what she would say.

Is NC part of the Bible Belt? Do I have to be on my best behavior here? Why is there no mini-bar? I thought mini-bars were sort of standard equipment for most hotels.

Err, I think lots of hotels don’t have mini-bars. I doubt that it’s generally because of anti-alcohol policies. More likely, the hotel rooms weren’t designed to accomodate them, and/or the cost of maintaining them (space used, repairs of the fridge, electricity, cost of maid checking and replacing stuff, dispute resolutions with customers, and yes, the occasional overly intoxicated traveler causing problems) is perceived, in many cases, to exceed the benefits of having them (extra profits and satisfying certain travelers who want them).

NC is definitely the bible belt. Much of the State is dry.

The Jerry Falwell Hotel is in Virginia I believe.

They’re not. The end!

Lots of hotel chains now have small fridges in them for use by guests. You typically find them in the middle-of-the-road chains that cater to families and the budget business traveler. Instead of mini bars they have small shops in the lobby that sell snacks and toiletries. Some of the higher end chains still have minibars in the room.

Also, you may have watched Deliverance one too many times. You will find that people in North Carolina are friendly and, for the most part, are just like you. It’s highly unlikely that you wil be lynched, and/or ridden out of town on a rail.

Unless you’re Canadian, of course.

Where in NC are you going to be? If you’re in the Triangle area, let me know if you need any information on what (not) to do.

Ha! The last time I was in NC I was 5 and they wouldn’t let me or anyone in my family swim in the pool because my dad’s skin was a few shades darker than they liked.

Hell, I’m only 46.

I had no idea. I don’t travel all that much, unless I’m going to visit family, and then we typically stay at someone’s house. When we do stay at a hotel, we’re probably not looking hard enough to find a good deal (assuming only the biger, more expensive, chains have mini bars). Interesting!

I hope you have a better experience this time. I’ve been to NC four or five times on business over the last few years and I absolutely love it. Beautiful state and they have some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Yeah, you may be overthinking your conversation with a hotel desk clerk.

Last time I was in NC, I was in Charlotte, which was a very nice city, nice people, my only complaint was lots of smoking, but duh, it’s North Carolina. :P

I think there’s a mall in Winston-Salem where you can still smoke.

In ~1967.

Well played sir, well played.