However, 'tis is still the season to be learning, and this week's lesson is a combination of a year's worth of travel, the timely catching of the Jason Reitman film "Up In The Air" over the weekend, and the fact that many of us will be spending this week in places other than our homes.
So without any further preamble, what I learned this week is the ultimate step-by-step procedure in which to check into a hotel. All steps are necessary, no matter what class of accommodations you are checking into, because trust me, I've been burned on every one.STEP ONE: CHECK THE SHOWER
Nothing spoils a great evening's sleep like not being able to clean up for your early morning meeting...believe me. Before your room door has a chance to automatically slam shut, turn on your shower and check for both pressure and hot water. Missing either one will severely hamper your mood for the rest of your stay. Missing both means staying with me in Vancouver for a night.
STEP TWO: CHECK THE HEATING/AIR CONDITIONER
STEP THREE: CHECK THE HAIR DRYER
Why? In Calgary, one of those wheezy, window-adjacent contraptions that once lived as a steam-shovel has been rescued and given life as an air-conditioner that spews much more noise than coolness in a room where the windows have been sealed with Gorilla Glue and the previous occupant seems to have been travelling with a dozen of them (gorillas, not glue).
And on the other hand, in New York, where my breath is finally made invisible when the bellman hauls in an eerily-glowing Russian-issue space he ater, circa 1963, with two-prong plug and frayed wire, that threatens not just to burn the room and the entire hotel down to the ground, but leave nuclear reactivity in its destructive wake. Sweet dreams indeed... That's why!
STEP FOUR: CHECK THE INTERNET CONNECTION
The scenario you don't want to experience--a hot, powerful shower (ahh...) readying you for an important meeting in a frozen wasteland of a town...and the hair dryer blows like a pair of butterfly wings. No problem you say, just phone downstairs for another one? "It'll be up within the half-hour sir! We're in the midst of a check-in/check-out rush!"
Yes, the hotel PROMISES wireless Internet, but your corner room in the sold-out Chicago concrete hotel is beyond reach of the signal...even when it's "augmented" by a booster box for which you have to pay a $50 deposit which remains on your bill even though it didn't work and you returned it minutes later with the warning "Make sure you take this off my bill now!" And of course, all this happens the night you have about a dozen documents being sent to you for urgent review...
STEP FIVE: CHECK THE ELEVATORS
STEP SIX: CHECK THE DRAWERS
Break out that stopwatch and time 'em. I'm serious. If they take long, change your room to a lower floor. Or else you may get the shaft (see above) find yourself playing the waiting game with three of your floormates at the ungodly hour of 5:00 a.m. in a rush to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight before having to hike down 15 flights of stairs with your (thankfully for me just overnight) bags. (And to add unsult to injury, when being a good samaritan and telling the overnight clerk that his elevators aren't working, havimg him explain that: "They're not broken, they just need to warm up after not being used for the night.")
Experienced travelers do this automatically when they're checking out of a room. REALLY-experienced travelers now do this when checking INTO a room, lest they be awoken at 1:00 a.m. by a frantic, overweight man who left his Blackberry charger and rental car agreement in the night table.
Hmmm...perhaps Mary and Joseph were wiser than we all thought when they agreed to check into that manger. Which is probably why I called out the name of their son while experiencing all of the above six steps.