The truth is, though, the whole atmosphere was a little more tactful than this carpenter's daughter is accustomed to. For example, it took me quite a while to locate the ATM, which had its own spacious room behind a heavy wooden door with only the smallest and most discrete of signs identifying it.
I didn't get into real trouble, though, until I unexpectedly needed to make a purchase that apparently upper class women do not discuss in public. There were several shops in the building, including one that advertised "sundries", so I didn't anticipate a problem. But a quick turn through all of them turned up nothing. After a review of the map of the resort confirmed that I hadn't missed any shops and that I was a good half hour from town, I went to the front desk and asked whether there was a drug store on the premises.
"No, I'm sorry," the young woman behind the counter said. "But the sundry shop does carry items like..."
She trailed off. She looked away.
I was raised in a barn (well, a small industrial town in Illinois) and I was in a hurry. I filled in "feminine hygiene products?"
"Yes," she confirmed with obvious relief. "That's what I was going to say, but I was looking for something more...delicate."
Then, she continued, "But they keep them behind the counter."
I thanked her and hurried back to the sundry shop. I've never bought drugs, but I think this might be what it's like...if your dealer is a nervous novice. I approached the cashier and said, "The lady at the front desk said you had feminine hygiene products back there?"
She quickly looked around to make sure no one had heard. Then she gestured me behind the cash register and opened a cabinet at floor level and completely concealed by the counter. I made my selection and started back around the register to pay, but she whisked the package out of my hand and into a bag before I made it around the corner.
(The tissue paper is a nice touch, don't you think?)
Underneath the fancy wrappings, of course, these were the same products that I casually toss into my grocery cart every month. Until last month, I thought everyone else did, too.
I'm not sure how the refined professionals at the Ritz-Carlton would feel about my telling this story in public, complete with the vulgar use of "feminine hygiene products" on at least two occasions. I'm thinking of it as a public service, though. Ladies, if you're wandering the hallways of a swanky resort in minor crisis, just ask at the sundry shop. But for God's sake, keep your voice down!