Of Soap and Dysfunctional Communication

dial-soapHave you ever worked hard to communicate something important? With great effort you spend time agonizing over the perfect words to communicate your important thoughts. You carefully think through what you are going to say, choosing your words carefully….

When the big moment comes you pull it off and voice your thoughts precisely as intended. Uttering those words should be a glorious moment. A thing of beauty that lifts a weight of burden off your shoulders.

There is only one problem. After delivering your magnificent oratory, the audience’s response slaps you with a harsh reality: They have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.

Their reply is somewhat remotely on the same subject, but that is about it. Further, they seem to think you don’t know what you are talking about, yet have full confidence that they understood you perfectly.

Further, they seem to be under the impression that they are now helping you by blithering on about something that is somewhat related to your point–but they have clearly gotten the impression that you are an idiot and things that are glaringly evident to the rest of the world need to be explained to you in detail.

The idea that you actually had a point–an important reason for bringing up the subject beyond idol chat–never dawned on them.

Oversimplified Example:

  • Me: When an equal amount is taken from equals, an equal amount results.
  • Other: I like Splenda better than Equal. It is in the cabinet next to the sugar. 

This is an oversimplified example, because I am referring to circular conversations.

Circular conversations me want to jump off a bridge.


Why is this on my mind today? I thoroughly lost my shit with B last night after such an incident with dysfunctional communication. I will attempt to type her an email momentarily, and may publish it in a follow-up post to this one.

But the situation reminds me of a humorous chain email I once saw about soap. One that is worth passing on.


The following is handwritten exchange between a hotel guest and his maid(s) via handwritten notes.

GUEST: Dear Maid, Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way. Thank you. ~ Guest

MAID 1: Dear Room 635, I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off.  I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested.  The 6 bars on your shelf I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind.  This leaves only the 3 bars I left today which are my standing instructions from the management. I hope this is satisfactory. ~ Kathy, Relief Maid

GUEST: Dear Maid — I hope you are my regular maid, Apparently Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap.  When I got back to my room this evening I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet.  I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won’t need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc. Please remove them. ~ Guest

Maid 2: Dear Mr. Guest, My day off was last Wednesday so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management.  I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was.  I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience.

I did not remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. ~ Your regular maid, Dotty

MAID 3: Dear Guest, The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder informed me this A.M. that you called ham last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service.  I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. Thank you. ~ Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

GUEST: Dear Miss Carmen, It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 7:45 A.M. and don’t get back before 5:30 P.M.  That’s the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night – you were already off duty.  I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap.  The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bathroom shelf. In just 5 days here I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me? ~ Guest

MAID 3: Dear Mr. Berman, Your maid, Kathy, has been instructed to stop delivering soap to your room and remove the extra soaps.  If I can be of further assistance, please call extension 1108 between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M.. Thank you. ~ Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

GUEST: Dear Assistant Manager, My bath-size Dial is missing. Every bar of soap was taken from my room including my own bath-size Dial.  I came in last last night and had to call the bellhop to bring me 4 little Cashmere Bouquets. ~ Guest

ASSISTANT MANAGER: Dear Guest, I have informed our housekeeper, Elaine Carmen, of your soap problem.  I cannot understand why there was no soap in your room since our maids are instructed to leave 3 bars of soap each time they service a room. The situation will be rectified immediately. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience. ~ Martin L. Kensedder, Asst. Manager

GUEST: Dear Maid 3, Who the hell left 54 little bars of Camay in my room?  I came in last night and found 54 little bars of soap. I don’t want 54 little bars of Camay.  I want my one damn bar of bath-size Dial. Do you realize I have 54 bars of soap in here? All I want is my bath-size Dial. Please give me back my bath-size Dial. ~ Guest

MAID 3: Dear Guest, You complained of too much soap in your room so I had them removed. Then you complained to Mr. Kensedder that all your soap was missing so I personally returned them – the 24 Camays which had been taken and the 3 Camays you are supposed to receive daily. I don’t know anything about the 4 Cashmere Bouquets. Obviously your maid, Kathy, did not know I had returned your soaps so she also brought 24 Camays plus the 3 daily Camays.  I don’t know where you got the idea this hotel issues bath-size Dial.  I was able to locate some bath-size Ivory which I left in your room. ~ Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

GUEST: Dear Maid 3, Just a short note to bring you up-to-date on my latest soap inventory. As of today I possess:

  • On shelf under medicine cabinet –
    • 18 Camay in 4 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
  • On Kleenex dispenser –
    • 11 Camay in 2 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 3.
  • On bedroom dresser –
    • 7 Cashmere Bouquet in 1 stack of 3 & 1 stack of 4,
    • 1 hotel- size bath-size Ivory, and
    • 8 Camay in 2 stacks of 4.
  • Inside medicine cabinet –
    • 14 Camay in 3 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
  • In shower soap dish –
    • 6 Camay, very moist.
  • On northeast corner of tub –
    • 1 Cashmere Bouquet, slightly used.
  • On northwest corner of tub –
    • 6 Camays in 2 stacks of 3.

Please ask Kathy when she services my room to make sure the stacks are neatly piled and dusted. Also, please advise her that stacks of more than 4 have a tendency to tip. May I suggest that my bedroom window sill, which is not in use, will make an excellent spot for future soap deliveries. One more item, I have purchased another bar of bath-size Dial which I am keeping in the hotel vault in order to avoid further misunderstandings. ~ Guest

Years ago, this was circulated via email as an actual conversation that was published in the London Times. In truth, it is apparently part of a book called A Hotel is a Place by Shelley Berman. Lord knows his recounting was probably not far from the truth…I’m guessing anyone who has ever talked to a wireless carrier can relate.

What is the most frustrating dysfunctional communication you’ve had?

4 thoughts on “Of Soap and Dysfunctional Communication

  1. Hahaha. The guest and the maids. Wow. If that is somewhat true, some hotel lost a customer. These kinds of conversations are so frustrating when they happen I’m already beyond that remembering. So, I will save you the read. My experiences of them aren’t as fun as the above…

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