It occurs to me that I haven’t yet told you all about the wonderful hotel experience Sarah and I had on our way to Rochester. (By the way, most of the presentations are up, along with lots of photos.)
See, our plane from Houston was leaving really early on Saturday morning, so we had decided to drive down the night before. It was a cheap trip for me, so my office offered to get a hotel room at the airport Marriott. We got there around 10 p.m., with me a little bleary from sneezing continuously for six hours straight. All I really wanted to do was take my allergy medicine and pass out. We got checked in (including all our tax-exempt paperwork, to make the state happy), went up to the room, opened the door, and met with a room absolutely reeking of smoke.
The whole hotel is non-smoking, so I went to the phone to call downstairs, only to discover that both phones were so scratchy with static that I could barely hear anyone on the other end. I vaguely made out that a bellman was coming up with keys to another room.
We waited. And waited some more. Eventually we went out into the hall to escape the smoke. After several more minutes, a family of five — exhausted parents, wary five-year-old (I’m guessing) boy, and somewhat cranky twin baby girls in a double stroller.
They’re looking for our room number.
After the mom gets a whiff of the room, I brave the phones again to find out where the bellman is, and what they’d like me to do with this extra family they’ve sent us — who don’t want the stinky room, either. I get an unintelligible response.
We all wander back to the elevators to wait. No one really wants to go back down to the front desk, because the elevators are a pain in the ass — for our safety, they’ve installed a card reader, and you have to swipe your card in order to get the silly thing to go anywhere.
At last, a manager comes running up to us (with a security guard in tow, for reasons none of us can fathom). She apologizes profusely and hands me a new room key. Sarah doesn’t rate one, evidently; the manager promises to bring another. (Where have we heard this before…?) She also offers us a gift certificate for breakfast, to make up for our trouble.
As we’re gathering our luggage, she turns to the parents of the now-very-cranky children and informs them that they’ve just given us the last room with double beds, and they’ll have to share a king. Truly, I wish I had a photo of the mom’s face at that moment. We offer to swap, and this is accomplished amid profuse thanks from both the mom and the manager.
As we’re leaving, I glance at the gift certificate. “Um, what time does breakfast start?”
“Six,” responds the manager.
Peachy. We have to be through security by 5:30. She offers to change it to room service credit instead. Whatever; it’s 11 by now and we still have to go move the car. By the time we’ve done that and returned — did you know that the shuttles for the long-term lots aren’t allowed to drop people off at the hotel, only terminals? — we don’t really want anything except sleep. By the time we’ve both had showers, it’s well after midnight (which is when room service ends, anyway).
Up at 4:30. Discover via the receipt slipped under our door that they’ve charged us state tax, which is not kosher when one is traveling on state business. Dress; pack hastily and get down to the lobby by 5, where I get to explain to the night attendant why she has to take the tax off our bill. This involves filling out another form, since they’ve lost the one from last night — I wonder if the Burke family got charged state tax? — and takes longer than it should, when you find out later that in most hotels, the night people are the ones who do the books.
Finally done. Time? 5:30. One more trip through the PITA elevators to reach the airport subway. The fact that the train stops at the hotel is the only possible excuse anyone could have for staying there, to my way of thinking. Luckily security is not too busy at this hour, and it doesn’t take long to get through. Over to the gate, where they’ve started boarding. I’m in a middle row, which gives me just enough time to dash over to the newsstand and find the Immodium — have I mentioned that my stomach started cramping as soon as I got up? Yeah, it was a delightful morning all around — before they call my row.
After that, the entire trip went strangely well.
And now I’m off to Austin for another work thing, World Fantasy, and An Event Apart. Back Tuesday, unless the fact that I’ll be in four hotel rooms in three hotels over five days causes me to go postal and I end up in jail, in which case….
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