DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please address the protocol of providing toiletries for one's houseguests.
My budget does not permit me to provide a basket of luxury bath items, but I always supply my guest bathroom with a fresh bar of bath soap, an ample supply of my favorite brand of shampoo and conditioner, and other items upon the guest's request.
In the past, I have supplied travel-size shampoo and conditioner, but larger bottles are more economical. Prior to my most recent guest's arrival, I placed almost-full bottles, so I had no reason to believe she might run out of either product during her four-day stay.
After her departure, I was surprised to find the bottle of conditioner gone. I initially thought I must have misjudged the amount in it and that she must have used it all. However, the remaining bottle of matching shampoo was still rather full.
This leads me to believe that my guest either used abnormally large amounts of conditioner during her stay or that she took a mostly full bottle without asking me. In my opinion, either scenario would require communication to the hostess, either a casual mention that one had used the last of the conditioner or a request to take the bottle.
Coincidentally, all the toilet tissue from the guest bathroom was also gone following my guest's departure, including several extra rolls, which I had deemed sufficient supply for her stay, but I am trying not to speculate too much on that one. (My guest didn't notify me of a shortage, and I did not notice it until after her departure.)
Obviously, a missing bottle of conditioner isn't worth a confrontation, so I will probably never know if my guest swiped it. I don't want to think uncharitable thoughts of my guest without justification, however, and wonder if my thinking is in the wrong.
Selfishly, I should mention that I anticipate having to share a bathroom with this person on an upcoming trip, and wonder if I should bring an extra supply of bath products, or simply hide my toiletries when I'm not using them. I have no problem sharing with friends when they ask, by the way. Am I obligated to provide houseguests with take-home toiletries?
GENTLE READER: Couldn't your guest have accidentally spilled the bottle, been embarrassed to mention it, and used the toilet tissue to mop up?
But we weren't going to speculate on that. Anyway, Miss Manners would rather pontificate on the decline of civilization.
This can be seen in the fact that a significant enough number of people steal items from their hotel rooms that hotels find it expedient to provide cheaper items to slip into their luggage. This, in turn, led to the belief that stocking up on supplies (as opposed to using them on the spot, like the towels) is legitimate. It was bound to slip over into private life.
Miss Manners is gratified to find that the travel-sized bottles you used to supply were not acquired that way (or you would not have looked for something cheaper). You and she are probably the only people in the world who consider that these are to be used on the spot, not to restock one's own bathroom.