The Sensitive Mini Bar

I spent this last Saturday night at the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The room was nice, albeit on the small side (as most New York hotel rooms are). But it was clean, despite the bedbug stories I came across on the Internet and, typical of the W brand, it was ĂĽbermodern. Besides the minifridge, there was also a minicounter offering a variety of goods, from candies and chips to an umbrella and prophylactics. A card warned the guest that the items on display were electronically marked and if you happened to move one of them, you’d be charged. I remember when I first came across such a device at the Venetian in the early 2000s. Back then it was just the fridge that was electronic (I learned this when my friend Buck told me he’d been rearranging it to make room for drinks he’d bought). But the W’s minicounter looked as if items were ready to be knocked off if you turned the wrong way while negotiating those tight corners. My prediction of the next innovation: Minicounters and fridges that charge you using retinal scans. Look at the jar of cashews and you’ll be billed $9.95.

In any event, that is how I explained to the wife why I was charged for the prophylactics. “Honey, I moved it by accident!” (I’m kidding.)

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