HOTEL BALCONY FAUX PAS
An old story from my newsletter archives, dedicated to my boss Ann who seems to still like me somehow.
So it was like 2001, January perhaps, or March. Probably not February. I was flying to our Miami office for meetings with people there and act like an executive and have meetings and pay attention. Before leaving, I went shopping for what I imagined to be appropriate Miami casual office wear. Back then I shopped at stores. I had a paycheck and expense account and health insurance. I had dental and optical too. I used to go to the doctor just for checkups. It was fab.
My flight was due in at 10 pm, I was due at the hotel at 11 pm. My boss Ann said to call when I got in. I took a cab from the airport. We were staying at The Doral which is a fancy shmancy hotel with private little mansions in back for their more famous folks. “The Doral name has long been associated with an elegant legacy of extraordinary golf and superlative service, providing a rich yet understated backdrop for discerning guests.” The cab had to go through a guard house and I had to show an ID to get in.
The girl at the front desk had a heavy cuban accent. She told me my room number and it sounded like first floor and I really wanted to sit on a balcony and drink things with silly names and umbrellas in them so I asked for an upper room with a balcony.
CubanDeskGirl: But we have a room for you with a king sized bed. The only rooms we have with balconies upstairs only have a double bed.
Me: I REALLY want a balcony, the biggest one you got. Upstairs, with a view and a breeze. And fireworks and a built in blowdryer.
CDG: But the room we have for you is so much nicer. This is a mistake.
Me: I don’t care about the bed. I live in Boston. It’s winter. I must have a balcony. BIG balcony.
So we went around a bit and she grudgingly gave in, rolling her eyes (which I reported her for) – -and a golf cart came and took me to my room. It was giant. It took ages to saunter to the other end and it had a giant palm tree next to the bed and a big, beautiful balcony.
I unpacked my pink suede capri pants and Donald Pliner Slides (which I thought of as my entry level Manolo Blahniks), pulgged in my cell phone to recharge and opened my laptop. But I couldn’t get my laptop to recognize the data port so I had no internet. I expertly jiggled all the cables and rebooted the laptop and while I was waiting, I pulled a little bottle of wine and some $50 macadamia nuts out of the mini bar.
Still no internet. It was 11:30 PM by now and I had forgotten to call Ann. All I wanted was to check my email just because this expensive hotel had a data line and not for any other reason. So I thought I’d call Amy from my team back at the office because I knew she could walk me through it and would still be at the office (we were never allowed to leave).
Amy said try this and that and then reboot so while it was rebooting I walked out onto my beautiful mega-balcony with my glass of wine and the room phone, careful to close the sliding glass door behind me so as not to waste the air conditioning and let humidity taint my new pink suede capris or undiscern the sumptuous legacy-tastic aura.
We chatted a minute about how awesome the weather was here and how unbearable there and how grown up I must be to be on a business trip and have her to order around and then I looked through the door and the laptop showed life. I opened the door to go back in but it was locked. Ann’s face loomed in my head with that look often reserved for “serious chats with Mo resulting in beatings”.
So I asked Amy to call the front desk and tell them to come let me in. Her punky side replied (she was 19 and pierced and tattooed and of the punkassbitch breed, albeit sweetly), “YOU call, YOU’RE the one who is locked out”. I said I didn’t have a phone to which she smartly pointed out that I was talking on it. “I only have the curlycord thing and the handpiece”, I said, “the crucial part, with the necessary buttons, is on the other side of the locked door”.
She said to jump off the balcony and call her later. Finally, since she worked for me, I ordered her to call. She smirked audibly and hung up.
I settled in a chair with my glass of wine to wait, watching the door on the other end of my vast room. Suddenly the door burst open and 5 cuban men RAN in, all wearing red shirts and khakis.
I smiled my most winning smile and waved breezily while perfectly executing a nice-to-meet-you-is-this-not-hilarious gesture with my wineglass hand and then I noticed that they were frantically pulling on the door. Once open, two of them grabbed me by the arm and yanked me in, insolently spilling my wine.
Everyone started asking me questions at once and one guy shouted into his walkie talkie, “Cancel the police. No ambulance. We have it under control. Over.”
RIGHT THEN my cell phone rang and, inexplicably, one of the security men with a thick Cuban accent answered it. He then handed it to me saying, “It’s your boss”.
When I got on the phone my polished boss, Ann, mused, “Funny thing Mo, it sounds like you have a dozen Cuban men in your room. Didn’t you just check in a few minutes ago? Is there a fiesta perhaps? We have a breakfast meeting at 8. I hope you can make it. I will talk to you in the morning.”
And she would NOT let me explain. I was like, “No, it’s actually not a party–I would totally have invited you, it’s the rescue guys, it’s actually really funny, everything is perfect, PLEASE don’t hang up”. And as I was being hung up on, my room phone rang and the same guy, still with the inexplicability, answered it. And now it was Joy, another manager. Joy let me explain. Joy giggled but wouldn’t venture a guess as to whether or not I was in what we called “hugh jass” trouble. “HughJass” was my IM screen name for a while. That and “OhNoItsMo” and “SherrifMo”. It was crucial at this company to have an array of creative IM names at the ready.
So I hung up and asked the men why they thought I needed to be rescued and they said, “that girl, she said you would maybe jump down but it would be better if we let you in. And you specially asked at the front desk for a balcony. You said very important, balcony. Big. Upstairs”.
At breakfast, with executives (actually they were just human beings but they had that “real job” thing going on) from the Miami office, I tried to explain but Ann kicked me under the table. She was always kicking me under tables.