Episode 134: The Girl in the Hotel Room

I was going to start this post with the way my trip this week started. Which was with me pulling out of my garage to head to the airport, only to discover that I had a flat tire. But I thought “there is no way my faithful readers are going to believe that this is the start of another story barely over a year after it was the start to the first”  (let alone that this is the 5th time in a year). So I decided not to start with that. Even though it is 100% true.

Instead, I want to start with another phenomenon that seems too bizarre to have happened twice. A Bomb Cyclone.

I am pretty much convinced that whoever coined this phrase, is trying to get as much play out of it as possible before the next new and never before heard of weather phenomenon takes it’s place.

Like a “Grenade Tornado”. Or maybe an “Uzi Hurricane”.

I can’t think of any other reason I had never, in all my years, heard of a Bomb Cyclone, until a month ago, let alone how one could never have occurred before the year 2019. And yet we have now (supposedly) had 2 in a month.

I saw all the signs on the highway on my way to DIA, flashing Blizzard Warnings and alerts to expect travel disruptions.

So I can’t say I was very surprised when I woke up yesterday morning to an email saying my 7pm flight had already been cancelled.

Since I was in the lovely Bay Area, where it was gorgeous, and sunny and in the 70’s and where all the trees are in bloom, I wasn’t even that upset about being stuck another night in that climate, as opposed to dealing with a blizzard back home.

I was a little less understanding this afternoon, however, when I landed at DIA a little after noon, to find less than an inch of snow on the ground and completely clear roads.

Evidently the biggest weather event that CO ended up experiencing yesterday was a 60 degree drop in temperature. From a balmy 80 degrees on Tuesday to a chilly 23 degrees on Wednesday.

But in Colorado that just means you throw on your North Face fleece with your shorts and flip-flops.

So I got to spend another night in CA thanks to the “Little Blizzard that Wasn’t”.

(Just a thought for the future: Could we maybe wait until we actually see a snowflake before we shut down the city?)

If it wasn’t for this fantastic overreaction, however, I wouldn’t have a story to share with you this week, so for that we should all be grateful.

Since my flight was cancelled, and I was rebooked on an early morning flight out of Oakland this morning, I found myself in need of a hotel.

I haven’t spent any time in Oakland, mainly because Oakland is not a place one spends any time. However, I do know that there are areas of Oakland you do not want to venture into. With that in mind, I was pretty adamant that my hotel needed to be very close to the airport.

Unfortunately, while on the phone with our travel agency trying to find such a hotel, the only one with an available room, was a Radisson about a mile from the airport.

I have never stayed in a Radisson before, and it definitely would not normally top my list of places to stay, but the pictures looked okay, it was near the airport, and in an area I knew was okay, so I took it.

Or so I thought. Oh, what a difference a mile can make.

I arrive at the hotel at a little after 9pm, and as soon as I pull into the parking lot, I realize the area and the hotel may not be quite as ideal as I had anticipated. I actually sit in my car for a few moments trying to decide if I actually want to check in. But after weighing my options,  I decide that this is still a (maybe marginally) safer option than sleeping in my rental car on the side of the road, so I decide to just bite the bullet and just get to my room.

Just to paint the picture for you, the hotel is a 1950’s style motor court hotel, with two floors of rooms, that all have exterior entrances that open off the exterior corridor, and all look down on the central courtyard and the pool.

Think of every hotel where the person who does not want to be found in every tv show and movie you have ever seen has been, and that was this hotel.

I check in, and get to my room as quickly as I can, and decide to just turn in early and try to get these few hours over with as quickly as possible, hoping that I don’t wake up in an episode of Law & Order.

In all fairness, the hotel interior had obviously been recently upgraded, and despite the retro, art-deco 70’s era decor they chose not really being my style, it was clean and comfortable.

And despite the fact that it smelled like spaghetti-O’s and had this continuous, low volume ticking that sounded like the timer on a homemade bomb, coming from somewhere I never did locate, my room was pretty decent.

So I decided to just get in my pj’s try to forget the outside and the area, and just pretend I was in any of my normal hotel rooms for the next few hours.

I had just got in my pj’s, arranged everything for a quick departure in the morning, and was just getting ready to climb into bed with my book, when there is a knock at the door, followed by a pause, and then a male voice saying “Maintenance”

Because of course there is. If I was writing the script for this tv crime drama, I couldn’t have written it any better.

Which is also the reason there is no way I am opening that door.

I hesitate a second trying to decide what to do, then try to put on my most intimidating  “I’m a Judo black belt, don’t mess with me” voice, walk close to the door and say:

“Umm, maintenance for what?”

No answer. I am actually just starting to think I actually had scared him off and turned to go back to bed, when there is another knock, followed by a brief pause, and then the voice announcing “Maintenance” again.

Seriously. This writer is obviously a pro, and is following the recipe for a successful crime drama to a T. I can almost hear the “this is not going to end well for her” music swelling in the background.

“What are you here to fix?”

Another pause.

“I am here to fix….. that thing that is broken. Someone call the front desk”

Oh, in that case! Please come on in! That thing, that evidently neither one of us knows is broken, definitely needs to be fixed.

“I didn’t call the front desk. There’s nothing broken here”

I stand there and wait for over a minute, but I must have sounded way more scary this time because there is nothing else from his side of the door, and I assume he is gone.

I am definitely not going to pull aside the curtains and look out the window that makes up the entire wall to the right of door, however. That is a sure fire way to make the creepy music hit a crescendo when the psycho’s face is in the window.

(Seriously. whoever thought an exterior wall made of glass was ever a good idea in a hotel??)

I double check to make sure the deadbolt is secure, drag the armchair in the corner in front of the door for good measure, and decide if ever there was a night that sleeping pills were invented for, this was it. At least then I can say I slept through any nefarious events that might occur in the course of the night.

Thankfully, the sleeping pill does it’s job and the rest of the night passes uneventfully (at least to my knowledge) and I am up and out and on my way to the airport bright and early this morning.

I also want to take a moment to thank the airlines and air traffic control, that were so concerned for my safety, that instead of allowing me to fly in a non-blizzard, they allowed me to have a night in Hotel California instead.

 

The Old Woman who Lived Without a Shoe

This week was a 3 day trip to a couple of our countries fair cities, which included a day of 3 time zones, 2 flights and 5 hours in a car. And that was just Day 3.

With all my flights this week, I got to experience TSA at a super small airport with no Pre-Check. So of course my bag was selected for special screening.

The supervisor who opened my bag to look for the dangers lurking within, rifled through all my stuff and commented that I had “numerous” toiletries, (all under the requisite 3.6 oz, might I point out) but that she would let it fly (yes, that is a pun), but she wanted to give me a heads up as “other airports may not be as accommodating”

Since she was being nice, and didn’t make me go back and check my bag, I decided not to point out that I have flown through many, many, many airports, and that I pack the same way every week, and have never had an issue elsewhere. Instead I just said “thanks for the tip” and moved on.

Speaking of packing, I know I dispelled the myth a few months back, that just because I am a frequent traveler does not mean that I am a great or efficient packer. However, I may have had the ultimate example of the lack of my packing expertise a few weeks back.

It was just a quick overnight trip, and I was scheduled on the last flight out that night. And that flight was delayed for 3 hours out of Denver.

I know, I know. You’ve heard this story before. Bear with me. There’s a twist you aren’t expecting coming, I promise.

I have a routine when I pack, and I found I really can’t vary from that routine, without there being a negative consequence. I pack for each day individually, and make sure I have everything I need for that day before moving on to the next.

Since this was just a one day trip, I’m not sure how I managed to mess it up as royally as I did, but it happened.

As the meme I found earlier this week said, my brain browser often has multiple tabs open, and frequently one or more of those tabs may freeze up and stop responding.
That is what must have happened to my packing tab on this particular day. I just didn’t realize it was frozen until it was too late.

I finally arrive at my hotel, 3 hours late, and as I always do,  proceed to open my suitcase, and take out my clothes for the next morning, to allow for as much “de-rumpling” time as possible. I hang my dress and jacket up and then pull out one shoe, and …..

Wait a minute. Why is there only one shoe?

Indeed. Upon further inspection of my bag, it held only one shoe.

Please don’t ask me how this happened. I still can’t tell you. I would have actually felt better if there had been no shoes in the bag, and I had forgotten them altogether. But how I managed to pack one shoe and not the other remains a mystery.

So now I am faced with the dilemma of how I am going to resolve this shoe problem before my meeting at 8am the next morning. It is now almost midnight, so there is no way anything is going to be open now.

As much as I could use the exercise, I know there is no way I have the stamina to hop around on one foot all day.

I consider going barefoot and saying I’ve embraced a simpler lifestyle, want to be in tune with the earth and all that, but I’m not sure I can pull that off in a suit jacket.

And there is no way the boots I wore on the plane are going to work with my dress and fall into the business dress code.

But what shoe store is going to be open before 8am in the morning?

I’m a little afraid I’m going to have to get two cast shoes from the 24-hour Walgreens and try to pass them off as the latest fashion trend. (C’mon, I know you already want a pair)

So this is how I find myself googling for “shoe stores” at almost midnight, to see if there is anything that might open early.

Luckily I find that the local Target is open at 7am!

So, instead of sleeping in an extra 30 min or so to make up for not getting to bed until midnight, I find myself setting my alarm even earlier, so I can be waiting at the Target when they open their doors at 7am.

I manage to find a pair of shoes that are actually presentable (I’ve even worn them again since!), check out (they were literally still turning on the self checkout scanners) and make it back to pick up my co-worker, to get to our meeting on time.

Mission accomplished!

I will, however, be sure that I am refreshing that packing tab to make sure it is fully loaded prior to zipping up my suitcase moving forward.

 

Why Mama always said to be sure and wear clean undies

Well, my time in Charleston is coming to an end, and without any blog worthy stories. We had a wonderful trip, and I considered for a moment, asking my parents to travel with me on a regular basis, (they are retired, you know), as they seemed to keep things “normal”. But then I realized, without crazy stories, this blog would have to die before it gets started, so I’ll continue to fly solo for now.

But, in honor of Charleston, I decided to drag a couple oldies but goodies out of storage from my previous time in South Carolina, to share with you. There were two that were both so good, I couldn’t choose, so you get a “two-fer”.

A couple years ago, I was traveling to SC on a regular basis. On one of these trips I had the pleasure of flying out of the Greenville airport. This airport is one of those airports that you can show up for your flight 30 min before it leaves and still be ok.

And one of those airports that does not have TSA pre-check.

So I find myself in the regular security line. With all those people who do not travel often. Directly in front of me are two such people, in the form of the Two Lovely Ladies.

These Two Lovely Ladies are possibly nervous about flying, and have quite obviously been spending quite a few hours at the one and only airport bar. And have been knocking back quite a few adult libations.

In fact, I would have hazarded a guess that their actual flight may have left several days before, and they forgot to get on it and just continued to drink. Needless to say, here they were now. Well hydrated. In the security line. In front of me.

Both of these Lovely Ladies, in addition to the strong alcoholic cloud,  were toting very large bags through said security line.

Now, despite all of these factors, I really was not paying much attention to The Lovely Ladies. Until they decided to start unpacking their bags.

In the middle of the security line.

Anyone who travels on a regular basis, or for that matter, has even taken a flight even once in your life, knows this is not how things are done.

All the business travelers lucky enough to be in this security line, at this moment, are all exchanging glances and secretly fuming that this is going to ruin their personal best time of 1 min and 37 seconds to clear security.

Suddenly, Lovely Lady #1 swings around to me, gives me a quick once over and says,

“You look like you travel quite a bit”

Me: “Ummm…. Yes. A bit”

Lovely Lady #1 shoves a gallon sized bottle of perfume under my nose and says,

“Do you think they’ll let this through?”

Me: “Ummm… I’m pretty sure it needs to be 3 ounces or less”

Now Lovely Lady #2 spins around to me, holding her own gallon jar of perfume.

“Mine’s only half full. Do you think that will be ok?”

Now, I’m quickly doing math in my head, and I’m pretty sure half a gallon is still over 3 ounces, so I say,

“Ummm…. No. I still think that’s too big”

This causes the Two Lovely Ladies to hold a quick sidebar, which I, unfortunately, cannot hear. But they must decide to chance it, because suddenly everything is off the floor, back in the large bags, and we are continuing to move forward.

I assume all is well, and the worst is over.

Until we get within one person of the belt.

And the body scanner.

Suddenly, Lovely Lady #1 whirls back to face me, points at the body scanner, and says,

“Do we all have to go through that?”

Me: “Ummm… Yes”

Let me pause for a moment here to state that both our Lovely Ladies are clad in nearly identical, somewhat skimpy, sundresses and flip flops.

Lovely Lady #1 throws a rather apprehensive glance at the scanner, then turns back to me and says in a very loud stage whisper,

“But I’m not wearing any underwear!”

I blinked at her for a second or two, then I just couldn’t resist.

Me: ” I don’t think it matters. It has X-ray vision”

Somehow both our Lovely Ladies made it through security.

Their perfume bottles were not so lucky.

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second of the Souh Carolina memoirs.