You awaken in a strange, darkened room, perhaps to the shrill jangling of the unfamiliar alarm of a clock-radio that you don’t know how to turn off. You stumble to the bathroom, hoping that you do not crash into furniture that is not where you expect it to be. Moments later, as you check your iPhone or Blackberry, you become dimly aware that you need to get ready for the morning meeting. This necessarily means your shirt must be ironed, because it is impossible to pack a man’s dress shirt in a suitcase without the shirt become wrinkled, and wearing a wrinkled shirt to your meeting would be . . . unseemly.
You must use the iron and ironing board squirreled away in the hotel room’s closet. You fumble with the ironing board, lifting it from the hooks that allow it to hang suspended against the closet wall. You open it and hear that high-pitched screeeel of metal on metal, a sound that is made only by the act of setting up a hotel room ironing board. Perversely, you are comforted by the annoying, yet familiar, noise. You retrieve the iron from its slide-in storage rack and plug it in, perhaps struggling with either the miles of cord found in half of American hotel irons or the balky, push button/feed out/scroll back cords found in the other half. As you slowly, clumsily perform these simple tasks, you realize that the morning fog is beginning to lift from your slumbering brain.
You check the temperature of the iron, and the sizzle of hot metal against your wet index finger feels good. You place your shirt on the ironing board, dragging it so that the collar and shoulder of the shirt are hard against the squared end of the ironing board. You iron the plain fabric of the back of the shirt first, your ironing strokes becoming more assured as you progress. You move the shirt around the board as you go along. By now, the cranial synapses are engaged. Be careful you don’t plunk the pointed end of the iron into the row of buttons with too much force! Snap that sleeve and smooth it to make sure that the act of ironing the top fabric doesn’t leave unwanted creases on the bottom side! You’ve done this hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times before.
And then you are finished. You confidently snap the shirt as you remove it from the ironing board and place it back on its hanger. It looks fine. You unplug the iron, and as it cools you close up the ironing board, anticipating that sound yet again, and lift it back onto its inner-closet hooks. Finally, the iron is snapped back into its closet holder.
You have successfully completed the morning’s first chore. The hotel room shower beckons.