The Ice Man Cometh

What is it with Americans and ice? Do they eat the stuff? Do they put it in the bath tub to lower the water temperature?

Our New York hotel room is three doors away from the corner. Around the corner there is another door before you get to the ice machine for our floor.

It’s a nice ice machine and seems to work well.

The problem is that each room has an ice bucket. A large ice bucket.

The ice bucket is made of a hard plastic and has double walls for insulation. That means it acts like a drum.

So when you go to the nice ice machine, put your bucket under the spout and press the button, a small avalanche of ice cubes rattles down the chute and crashes into your bucket with a noise like thunder that is ampified by the double-skin drum into the sound of a building collapsing.

This would not be too bad if it wasn’t for the American obsession with ice.

After a hard day’s work being a tourist, you are just drifting off to sleep knowing that you have to get up early to do it all again tomorrow, when you are startled awake by the sound of a building collapsing next door.

“What the…?” Oh, it’s somebody at the ice machine.

You settle, then ten minutes later the thunder crashes and the building collapses again.

And it goes on. There seems to be a procession of people going to the ice machine, filling up bucket after bucket with ice. Some nights it goes on until 1.30 in the morning.

You can ignore the car horns and police sirens, they are mere whispers in the distance compared to this. It’s obvious that some people go back several times, because there are far more crashes from the machine than there are rooms on this floor. What are they doing with it all?

Even Reuben noticed. Usually a sound sleeper,¬†he decided to check in to our hotel one night rather than have to drag himself back first thing next morning. He had done a late interview round the corner at the Ed Sullivan Theatre with one of Letterman’s guests, and had an early morning appointment next day over the road at Carnegie Hall. The stand-by room rate was about the same as a taxi home and back again.

By one of the coincidences that follow Reuben around, he got the room next to ours. There is a connecting door between the two rooms. Although it was locked, we could hear Reuben muttering to himself every time the ice rattled and crashed into someone’s bucket.

Everytime it happened he got more and more cranky. By 1.30 am he was hopping mad. That’s when I thought, “Oh-oh! Reuben is upset”.

He doesn’t get upset often, but when he does you can bet he won’t take it lying down. But Reuben’s mind doesn’t work like most other people’s.

Around 3 am I had just gone to the bathroom when I heard Reuben’s door open and his unmistakeable footsteps go past our room. He was going to the ice machine.

I don’t know what he used for an ice bucket, but it must have been huge – maybe one of the large rubbish bins from the foyer. Whatever it was, it sounded like the mother of all ice buckets because the crashing seemed to go on forever. No one could have slept through it.

When it stopped at last, Reuben lurched up and down the corridor, rattling the can and calling out in his best Quasimodo voice , “Anybody want any f#*%ing ice?”

Silence was the only reply.

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One Response to The Ice Man Cometh

  1. nigel morley says:

    Americans do have some strange cultural practices and perhaps the manufacture of ice is a symbol of prosperity?
    Nice web page and book club!!

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