By Norm Wilkens
Most business travelers have numerous, humorous stories to tell of their adventures on the roads. Many of these offbeat occasions occur in hotels or motels and cover a wide variety of astonishing events. As a seasoned traveler, I have collected many of these crazy times.
A number of pages of Safe Money News could be filled with these offerings on my travels, yet I will whittle down those experiences to just three for your amusement.
A trip to Winston Salem found me in an ultra-modern hotel for an overnight stay with a wake-up call for 5 a.m. This early hour gave me time to properly awake and make ready for my eight-hour seminar sessions. One of the early morning pleasures of my life is a hot shower to start off the day. Upon entering the bathroom, I turned to the shower and adjusted the various knobs awaiting the hot water to flow. While waiting, I arranged the other necessities on the counter such as soap, conditioner, shampoo and made a quick check to make sure there was a wash cloth and a towel close at hand. This took less than a minute – plenty of time for the shower to warm-up. In this case, that did not happen. Not too unusual, every shower had its own abnormal on and off tendencies. It should be noted that I am not a mechanical engineer, or an experienced plumber. However, after spending more than several minutes trying to figure out what happened to the hot water, I decided I would have to suffer the indecency of a cold wake-up. So, I jumped in and got wet; jumped out and lathered up; then back in to remove same. This procedure was repeated several times for me to be considered clean.
After dressing and vacating the room, I headed toward the front desk. I thought it was my duty to inform the clerk of my shower situation. That’s when she announced to me that, “The hot water doesn’t always reach the thirteenth floor!” To make sure I properly understood what she had said, I asked her to please repeat the statement. She and I have heard it right. “The hot water doesn’t always reach the thirteenth floor.”
That same experience happened several times in my travels, but when I would bring this phenomenon to the attention of the desk clerk, they would always find something was amiss. Usually a boiler had gone out during the night. And, an apology was often given with a discount on the room. Not in Winston Salem.
Once in Syracuse, New York, I stayed in an ancient facility that should have been torn down years before. It still had the gas light fixtures in the sleeping rooms. Thank goodness they didn’t work. I was in one of the two towers with my meeting room in the second tower which meant I would have to go from my tenth floor room in Tower One through the lobby to the elevator for the fifteenth floor in Tower Two.
It was very early, about 5:30 a.m., when I began the moving process. All went well until I started up the second elevator to the meeting room. I pressed the button for the fifteenth floor and nothing happened. I tried several other buttons including the one to open into the lobby once again. Still nothing. I decided it would make sense to see if it would go down to the basement. It worked and I opened the door to one of the scariest, dingy places I had ever encountered. There was one naked light bulb swinging from the ceiling which only cast more shadows than needed.
Dragging my luggage behind me, I finally found stairs to the lobby. Upon reaching the desk clerk, I explained my difficulty in reaching my meeting room on the fifteenth floor. At which time he announced that they lock-off that elevator before seven a.m. because of the indigents that occupy the upper floors. He said he would be happy to get it started for me, but to be mindful and watch my step.
One other quick story about a motel in Eugene, Oregon. All was well until about 2 a.m. when Vesuvius erupted in the bathroom. It was the commode that had made the tremendous sound of exploding that reverberated throughout the entire sleeping room. I tried everything to shut it down – finally having to completely shut off the water before it stopped erupting. Then, when it came, by necessity, to use the facility a couple of hours later, there she blows again. Needless to say, there was little sleep that night and almost no time left to find another comfort station.
These misadventures add to the fun and games of business travel, and lead to new ways to conduct business while surviving on the road.