The Mini Bar that Bit Me

Hidden costs

Small bottle of Veuve Clicquot with two champagne glasses, on wooden table.
The infamous bottle of Veuve Clicquot - now on display at Evergreen.

We’re being treated to a night at the 6-star Crown Towers in Perth, Western Australia.

It’s the sort of place we normally drive past and admire. If we attempted to get inside, we’d be escorted firmly to the main entrance and told not to come back. But, tonight, we’re official guests

Rob and I line up at check-in, trying to hide his overflowing overnight bag that refuses to shut because the zip is broken. We carry formal wear for the evening on wire hangers, visible to everyone in the line. I wish we’d thought to buy swanky garment bags like everyone else. Anyway, we’re here. And a highlight is that we’ve been promised a complimentary bottle of champagne by the generous couple who’ve invited us.

I can’t wait to pop the cork!

The lift quietly whisks us to the 15th floor. The views of Perth across the Swan River, and the idyllic blue of the lacework of swimming pools far below us, are spectacular. We bounce on the bed, take photos of each other languishing on the chaise longue and peep in the mini bar. Rob, too hungry to wait for the party to start, selects a packet of chips and munches contentedly on them. I take note of the coffee machine for the morning.

But where is the complimentary champagne?

I look in the mini bar and find a 375ml bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Real champagne, not just an Aussie sparkling white. Although I was expecting a full-size bottle, I decide this must be it. I unwrap the foil, twist off the wire holding the cork in place and give it to Rob to pop. I head into the fancy bathroom for a shower.

While I battle with hot and cold taps, room service delivers our actual complimentary bottle in an ice bucket — 750ml of Verve Tailhan Blanc de Blancs, from France. Draped in a giant white bath towel, I rewire the cork and deftly rearrange the gold foil on the Veuve Clicquot. But no matter how expertly I fiddle, the bottle looks tampered with. We now have to drink 1,125ml of champagne before noon tomorrow or pour it down the sink.

The party upstairs is also awash with champagne.

At the check-out desk next morning, the polite concierge asks if we’d had anything from the mini bar. I say, ‘Yes, a small packet of chips and a teeny tiny bottle of Veuve Clicquot.’ After correcting my French pronunciation, he replies, ‘That will be $75.’

I clutch the counter as the 22 stories of the Crown Towers sway. The concierge’s voice comes faintly to my ears. ‘That’s $5 for the chips, $70 for the champagne.’

Seventy dollars for a glass and a half of bubbles?

Not wanting to experience public arrest, I pay.

How does mindfulness come into this story?

Hidden costs.

We don’t know the hidden cost of things we do or say or think. Then, suddenly, they’re upon us. It’s when the hidden cost of something pops up that mindfulness comes to the rescue.

Eckhart Tolle says there are three things to choose from in all situations:

· Say or do something to change the situation;

· Walk away from the situation;

· Accept the situation completely.

In Crown Towers, once my dizzy spell passes, I realise there is nothing I can do or say to change the situation. The concierge has an aura of polite implacability about him, and he’s backed by Crown Tower rules, state laws governing payment for what one swallows, and (I don’t doubt) several bouncers lurking nearby, disguised as guests. I can’t just walk away because I’ll be pursued and brought to justice. Fully accepting the situation is the only sensible option.

I swipe my bank card without rancour. Although $75 poorer, I have a funny story to tell and have learned a lesson about the dangers of consuming mini bar contents.

This is a light-hearted look at mindfulness, but it’s an example of how it works in everyday situations.

When hidden costs from something you’ve said, done, or thought, emerge in your life, consider these three viable options:

· Say or do something to change the situation;

· Walk away from the situation;

· Accept the situation completely.


With love, Marlane

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