Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When Nature Calls (or SCREAMS!)

When one attends a conference held in the hotel in which one is staying, one rides the elevator often. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to use one's own bathroom rather than standing in line during crunch times, or wishing you had more “personal” space rather than watching the feet in the stalls next to you (wishing you weren’t), or finding out (too late) that the person who “went” before you used the last square of toilet paper, or . . . . You know what I mean.

One of the reasons I often request no housekeeping is because sweet nature often calls (sometimes using her EMERGENCY! voice) when housekeeping is cleaning my room. It’s just the way the universe seems to work. So throughout my conference, I applied my NO HOUSEKEEPING rule. (Ah, so CLEVER! But can't you just feel the windup?)

Following one of nature's yellow-alert calls, I waited for the session break (remember, this was yellow in terms of urgency, not orange or RED) before making my way to the elevator. I caught a break since the door opened immediately after I pushed the button. I entered the elevator alone, pushed "32" and enjoyed a private, meditative nonstop ride to my floor. The doors opened, I exited, zigged and zagged my way back to my requested "quiet room, away from the elevator and ice machine," (nature's voice getting louder), pulled the DO NOT DISTURB sign out of the door (to remind housekeeping I want no housekeeping) and clamped it between my teeth, inserted my plastic key in the slot, gave it the professional seasoned traveler's swipe and ... red light. Figuring I had my key facing the wrong direction (I left my glasses on my chair in the meeting room) I turned the key the other direction, gave it a re-swipe and ... red light. With Zoro's lightening speed, I continued swiping that key every which way and ... red light, red light, red light.

DANG the hotel! What an inopportune time to have to reactivate my key! WHY can't hotels get their records straight?! HOW many times do I go through stuff like this!

I took the DO NOT DISTURB sign out of my mouth, stuck it back in the door lock and . . . noticed that although I'd arrived at the quiet room in the corner with the DO NOT DISTURB sign, I was on the wrong floor. This was room 2631, not 3231. Seems my elevator had stopped on 26 for no reason (nobody got on) other than to humiliate me. And you know how it is in those big hotels: all hallways look exactly the same. In this case, it was the Grand Hyatt in NYC and each elevator waiting area had the exact same table, phone and what looked to be a teensy piece of suburban lawn growing in a little square pot. How's a person (okay, obviously an inattentive, distracted, STUPID person) supposed to realize the error of her ways?

With nature's call now escalated to an orange alert -- not to mention a possible impending face punch looming on the other side of the door at which I'd been pawing for a couple minutes -- I quickly scurried around the corner, back to the elevator (to which I paid CLOSE attention) and made my way to my room, which, thankfully, was my room.

Although the session had already reconvened by the time I finally made it back to the conference level, at least everything turned out okay, if you know what I mean. (Thank goodness I heeded the yellow alert before it turned to RED alert before heading to my room!)

To the people at the Grand Hyatt NYC, even though you didn't know I was thinking poorly of you, I apologize anyway. To myself I say, PAY ATTENTION! To you, my fellow travelers, I beg you to herewith share your own embarrassing stories since you'd make me feel ever so much better--and braver—about continuing to share mine.

PS If that was YOU in 2631, SORRY!


Anonymous said...

When I travel, it's generally in a rental car. Sometimes they aren't exactly clean when I get them, to my frustration. Nevertheless, I carefully put all my garbage in a "granny litter bag" so that I don't leave behind something to frustrate the next user. About a week ago, as I got out of the car to check into the hotel, the wind caught my litter bag and emptied it instantly. All my crumpled tissues and hard candy wrappers scattered everywhere. I spent some time digging through the landscaping and managed to retrieve a few items, but most of them were gone forever to become part of the unsightly litter that I hate to see on the streets. Sometimes even our best intentions become problems for others. In my philosophy, if I can't help, at the very least,I don't want to make a situation worse! So that is my most recent chagrin.

Joshua said...

From experience, another time to hang the do not disturb sign is when working out in the AM.

Housekeeping always seems to start agressively at the stroke of 8AM (much to the dismay of anyone actually trying to use the room for sleep and needs quiet in the hall). Many times I come back a few minutes after 8 and they are in the middle of cleaning.

Too bad you can't get the room cleaning you are entitled to, especially at today's inflated hotel rates. Perhaps asking for a specfic room cleaning time might help?

Regards, Joshua