Rants from the road, part II: how much for the shower?

For part 1 of Beth Wechsler's 'Rants from the Road' series, click here.

Call me spoiled. I like to take a shower in the morning. This is particularly appealing to me when (1) I need to wash my hair and, (2) I am going to be spending 7 hours attached to a microphone and standing at a podium. Like parking and drinkable water, I like to think that a morning shower comes included in the hotel's room rate - or rack rate, whatever that is.

Pardon me while I digress. What exactly is a "rack rate"? Is it the original, no discount room rate that a hypothetical person would pay if they didn't have any, and I do mean any, special discounts? Is the rack rate what you would pay if you didn't have a discount for being old (AARP), driving (AAA), being a member in any national association, including but not limited to the hotel's own programs - Choice Privileges, Priority Club, something that I think is called Starwood Preferred? I want to know what a "rack rate" is - whether the root of the word comes from the Latin, "racket" or from the Portuguese "to put on a rack." And I have another question - (one that relates to a childhood trauma when I attempted to use my NYC bus pass on the subway with grave consequences) - Can you get into trouble for trying to use your Choice Privileges rewards card at anywhere other than a Comfort, Quality, Sleep, Clarion or MainStay Inn?