In April of 2015, I went to Miami with Elizabeth Ellen, Chloe Caldwell, and Mira Gonzalez for a Girls' Trip. We planned to swim, drink cocktails by the pool, get matching tattoos, and have brunch on the Ocean Drive strip. I got my period the moment we got to the hotel. Getting my period wasn’t going to affect any of my plans, and was no big deal, really, aside from the fact that I refuse to pay attention to my body so am always completely surprised when my period comes. As such, I had brought no supplies to Miami with me. I went to Walgreens and bought Midol and a Tampax Pearl Multipack (20 regular, 8 super, and 8 lite-size tampons). I kept the Midol in my purse and left my box of tampons in the bathroom by the toilet, and enjoyed the next two days with no issue.
(above: map showing Walgreens where tampons were purchased in proximity to National Hotel, where we were staying during Girls Trip)
Here is what I remember:
On the third day of our trip, my box of tampons was gone. We all happened to be sitting in the hotel room I was sharing with Mira when I discovered my box of tampons was missing.
“Did someone move my tampons?” I said. Nobody had touched them, apparently.
The housekeeper was the only suspect to me in those first moments. I had never had any contact with the housekeepers, but they cleaned mine and Mira’s room each day we were there.
Maybe it was a misunderstanding of some kind, like the housekeeper had accidentally thrown my box of tampons away somehow, or moved them somewhere weird. I looked around the room, and then called the front desk and asked to talk to housekeeping. But housekeeping was gone for the day, so I explained my situation to the front desk.
“Something is missing from my room,” I said. “Tampons.” They put me on hold for a few minutes.
“We can talk to housekeeping tomorrow and see if they saw it.”
“That doesn’t really help me right now,” I said. “I have no tampons.” They put me on hold again for several minutes and then the call was disconnected.
“Call them back!” Elizabeth said. The girls couldn’t believe I was making such a big deal about the tampons, and wanted me to make a bigger fool of myself. But honestly I would have done it without them egging me on. This was bigger than me or a box of tampons.
I called back. “Hi, it’s me, I just called about tampons.”
I try not to be confrontational with customer service workers (having worked as a barista for five years I understand the shittiness of unsatisfied customers) but I also hate being screwed over by companies, even slightly, and consider it my civic duty to fight the small injustices that these entities subject us to, even if that means testing the limits of a customer service agent’s will and patience. I will keep a Verizon Wireless representative on the phone for an hour and a half until they take off an unfair charge, for example, wasting everyone’s time to make a point and save a couple of dollars.
“We are sending someone up,” the front desk lady said.
“Thank you very much,” I said.
There was a knock at the door and I opened it to find a man holding three individual tampons. It was clear to me on sight that these were off brand tampons with cardboard applicators, which is worlds different than Tampax Pearl. Having a man bring me these crap-ass tampons was more insulting than bringing me nothing at all. Since I started buying my own menstruation products, I have made a point to buy the nicest, best tampons and pads and never hesitate to ingest painkillers. Menstruation sucks and isn’t fair and is a monthly reminder that things are just shittier for women and there’s nothing that can remedy that, so anything that can make that experience even a tiny bit more comfortable is worth the money/effect on the environment/humiliation that comes from calling someone repeatedly about your missing tampons.
“Hi, it’s me, Tampon Girl,” I said.
“We sent someone up,” the front desk lady said. I could tell she was embarrassed for me, which made me feel more indignant, more eager for justice, if not for me then for all the other girls who might have their menstruation products unfairly taken away.
“You sent three crappy tampons with cardboard applicators. As far as I’m concerned, something was stolen from my room. What is your protocol for this?”
“Let me call you back,” she said.
At this point I turned my attention to my three ‘friends.’ They were all laughing. Had they been fucking with me? I probably should have asked before harassing the front desk people. But they swore they had not touched my tampons, that they had no motivation to steal them, that in fact it made very little sense for them to have stolen them. But it also made little sense for a housekeeper to steal them. It isn’t as though I would not notice that the product that kept me from bleeding all over myself at the pool was missing. They each had just as much reason to steal my tampons as the housekeepers.
List of additional suspects and their possible motives:
Mira Gonzalez. I was sharing a hotel room with Mira, so she had the easiest access to my tampons. I’ve never experienced Mira being a shitty person, but she often describes herself as a shitty person, and sometimes you have to believe what people tell you about themselves. Mira was on her period as well, so she had the most need to steal the tampons, but again, we were sharing a room, and stealing them on an as-needed basis would have been much easier and less conspicuous.
Chloe Caldwell. A known (former?) kleptomaniac. People have said things to me like, “Don’t leave your pills out, Chloe will steal them.” Chloe herself has said to me, “I’m going to steal those socks from you.” But I don’t remember being apart from Chloe at any point other than when we went to our separate rooms at night, so I’m not sure how she could have pulled it off.
Elizabeth Ellen. I can think of almost no motivation EE would have for stealing my tampons, but she has been urging me to “write something about the tampons” for a year and a half, so maybe she stole the tampons as a way to fuck with me, hoping I would write about her. EE had also spent a good portion of the day in question away from the group, citing anxiety, giving herself plenty of time/opportunity to go into our room alone and steal my box of tampons.
There was another knock on the door, and this time it was a woman (possibly the woman I talked to on the phone) extending her arm to give me a brand new box of Tampax Pearl tampons in size Ultra, the largest size Tampax makes for very heavy flow days (see chart). I don’t know why this offended me. I guess the implication was that I was really on my period. Which, fair.
Anyway! I got my tampons. Crisis averted. End of story.
For some reason I keep talking about it
“What if an employee got her period and just went searching empty rooms for tampons,” Mira said today, almost a year and a half after the incident, because I’m still talking about it. I was honestly surprised that Mira was still patiently entertaining theories about this.
“Why wouldn’t they just steal like 3 or 4?” I said.
“I wish we could call other people who stayed there that night and ask if their tampons were stolen.”
For some reason, this comment made me remember that when we posted photos in Miami on Instagram, weird promotional accounts would comment on our photos using South Beach hashtags. I went on my own Instagram account and found my Miami photos, then clicked the hashtags in the comments. The hashtags these promoters used were useless to a confusing degree (#Story #Liv #Mansion), so I decided to search people who had tagged themselves at National Hotel, and then scrolled down approximately sixteen months. It took forever to scroll that far! And then the images ended abruptly in July 2015. I don’t know why. I tried to get help from Instagram Help Center but kept getting a weird error message before I could finish typing my question.
So I just went through Chloe’s, Mira, and my own Insta pics (EE doesn’t have an account) looking for clues.
This is me and Mira enjoying vacation on our periods.
Why are they laughing? Because they stole my tampons together?
This is the night me and Mira tried to get black out drunk on sugary drinks and Chloe and EE shared I think one glass of wine. Chloe captioned this: “Us two on the left [Chloe and EE] don’t Actually take our shots but we pretend to.” So… technically they are both lying in this photograph. Or something related to lying.
This is EE and Chloe hanging out in their room without me or Mira. I don’t see any tampons anywhere. They look like they’re having fun.
Me and Mira, still on our periods! Menstruating women can have fun, too.
I checked Twitter, and noticed that Mira has tweeted an image of part of our text exchange about the tampons from earlier today.
The thing that stands out to me the most about this is that she says “OUR tampons.,” as if they belonged to both of us. Not sure if this proves she stole them and therefore feels ownership over them, or just felt that they were hers too because she was using them because we were sharing a bathroom and because, as stated previously, Mira was also on her period.
Something else was still bothering me
I asked Mira to comment on the fact that Elizabeth had been away from the group for several hours that day, and had then randomly gotten a third hotel room so she could have her own room.
“What if she took our tampons.. as a prank…. But then it went too far and she couldn’t admit it was her,” Mira said. Again with the “our tampons.”
“Yeah, and then she saw how mad I got and was like, oh shit,” I said.
“Like she thought we’d just be confused but then we were too menstrual to be anything but furious.”
Mira had a good point. I could see Elizabeth carrying out some poorly thought out prank and then watching in horror as it is being taken super seriously and affecting hotel staff, and being forced to keep the whole thing a secret to save everyone the embarrassment and discreetly throwing away the tampons on a different floor of the hotel. But to be honest, I really can’t imagine a scenario in which Elizabeth would waste an opportunity to embarrass me.
“Did you steal my tampons?” I asked Elizabeth.
“I always said it was Chloe. She stole [my daughter’s] toothpaste and I would have never known except criminals always confess or brag about their crimes.”
Chloe hadn’t bragged or confessed or even responded to my text asking her what she knew what happened to my April 2015 tampons.
“Maybe it was a man who worked at the hotel and hates women,” EE said.
This was similar to what Mira had suggested, that someone who worked for the hotel might have had a habit of stealing tampons from guest rooms. Maybe there was something to it. So I ran a few searches on Yelp and Trip Advisor to see if anyone else had complained about missing or stolen tampons. I searched the keywords “tampon,” “stole,” “steal,” “period,” “menstruation,” and “condom” and came up with zero results.
But then I realized that not everyone writes an online review whenever something happens to them. I wrote a Yelp review in case someone else ever needed to know that my tampons were stolen from National Hotel.
Chloe? Chloe didn’t respond to my texts about the tampons all day, so obviously she was somehow guilty, or at least unwilling to defend herself.
This is Chloe’s gorgeous mugshot.
But then Chloe finally responded, and it changed everything
“I do steal things so I get that fingers are pointed at me,” Chloe said. “If I did it I’d admit it. It was Mira. Gut feeling.”
She also tried to tell me she didn’t use tampons, which I think is a lie. But she seems kind of irritated that I was taking her time up with this, so I didn’t press her to say more.
I had to believe her. Not the thing about Mira. And definitely not the thing about her not using tampons.
I had to believe she didn’t steal my tampons in Miami in April 2015.
Not because she’s my friend. Well, actually, yeah, because she’s my friend. Because if I can’t believe my friend when she tells me she didn’t steal my tampons, then I’m forced to believe that she stole my tampons for no reason other than to fuck with me, then lied about it for sixteen months, then tried to blame our other friends for it.
And the same goes for Mira and Elizabeth. I have to believe that none of my friends are that psycho and/or determined to mess with me.
I have to believe that the housekeepers would honor their solemn oath not to fuck with hotel guests. I have to believe that no housekeeper would purposefully cause a woman to be without tampons at a time when she most needed them, on vacation in Miami.
I hereby proclaim that everyone is innocent. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if there is no valid explanation. Even if it’s technically impossible. Because, honestly, they’re just tampons. I think they were like $7.99.