The manager of the hotel where I’ll be staying over Thanksgiving calls to leave a message: “The elevator will be out of service during your stay as it undergoes modernization. If you have any questions or concerns, please call back.”
Questions and concerns do indeed pop into my brain: What floor is my room on? How many floors are there? What does “modernization” mean? Is it gonna be noisy? It can’t be noisy!
The manager’s name is Benny and the hotel is in San Diego, on the beach. I call the hotel back but Benny is gone, so I explain my concerns to an assistant who assures me that Benny will call back. I tell the assistant to warn Benny that I will be looking for a discount or a premium room in exchange for the elevator inconvenience, or assistance in re-booking at another nearby hotel. We hang up amicably enough, but I am steamed.
Every bad trait I have—every bad habit, every unkind word, every emotion that I can’t control—has its roots in another story that taught me an unfortunate lesson. I can’t help but think back to my honeymoon.
We had decided to honeymoon in Sonoma Valley at a historic inn. Actually, I was the one who had decided because I was the one with the money, and my husband was the one who was high all the time. This was to be a vacation of a lifetime, for me anyway.
Our first walk down the streets of Sonoma were spent looking for a Wells Fargo bank so my husband could pay the mortgage on his house at the very last second. I was still not privy to his complete array of financial shenanigans, even after two years. I remember buying two long strings of paper stars—one wine, one royal blue—excited to hang them up for decoration somewhere.
Back at the inn that first night of our honeymoon, I lowered my body-of-a-17-year-old into the steaming waters of our huge grape seed Jacuzzi, wine at my side. My disgruntled husband stared at my happiness through the cut-out in the wall. He didn’t have any paraphernalia.
“Listen,” I said before submerging. “You can stand over there and feel sorry for yourself all you want, but you’re not going to ruin this for me.” With that, I dunked under the pleasant waters, just a grape seed myself.
The next day, while I got a long massage in the morning and took another long mosey through the town of Sonoma to make sure we knew where all the best spots were, my husband went looking for a bong. Meeting with no success in the 50-mile radius he had limited himself to, he came back in the evening all pitiful again. It wasn’t that he didn’t have pot; he just didn’t have anything to smoke it with. He was too proud to use a Coke can.
Running a very close parallel to the miserable-husband phenomena was the state of affairs at our inn. No one had told me that the street outside would be under construction for the entire week of our stay, that we would be listening to the beep beep beep of machinery and the destruction of asphalt every day, all day. Nor had anyone mentioned that there was an elementary school located directly behind us, complete with bells and buses and a thousand splendid recesses. In emotional shambles by our third night, I went to sit and rock in the manager’s office. This performance won me a refund, $450 back in my pocket, one free dreary night out of the seven.
It’s been three days and I have yet to hear from Benny. I wonder if my warnings don’t carry as much weight as they used to. Maybe there’s a new way to reason with hotel managers that I haven’t learned yet. Maybe I should stop giving warnings.