Thursday, April 09, 2015
H is for HOTELS I have known
Before August 1996, I had never traveled in a plane by myself, nor had I stayed in a hotel alone. All that changed when I accepted a job as a sales rep for McDougal Littell Publishing Company, traveling the highways and byways of the Panhandle of Florida all the way down to St Petersburg. For seven years, I was gone almost more than I was at home. During those seven years, I frequented many hotels in my territory and many in what to this Southern gal were exotic places like Chicago and San Diego and Phoenix. The Florida Keys weren’t too shabby, either.
In those places, I stayed wherever those in charge of meetings told me to stay, always very nice hotels. I suppose the fanciest one was the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix, where we managed to gather at least four times during my seven years with the company. The meetings were always just before Christmas, and the decorations were out of this world. One of the beautiful things that I remember was the afternoon tea for little girls, held in one of the dining rooms in the hotel. Those little sweeties were dressed to the nines and acted as though they were little princesses!
But the hotels that are dear to my heart aren’t those fancy schmancy ones. In Florida, I mainly stayed in Holiday Inn Express hotels. I loved them. They were always clean and smelled nice. The people who worked there were congenial and took personal care of me, always welcoming me from my long trip from somewhere and making me feel at home. I found out later that the consultants who came to work for me made fun of me because of my choice of hotels for them to stay in. They were used to expensive Marriotts or Hiltons; however, what they didn’t know (and I don’t know why they didn’t . . . they could see, couldn’t they?) was that the hotels that I chose for them and for me were the best in my territory. Almost twenty years ago, Holiday Inn Express was top notch. Those hotels still are, and sometimes I stay in them even now.
I can’t remember the name of the hotel where I used to stay in Tallahassee, but it was wonderful. All the clerks knew me, but there was a special young man who took exceptional care of me. I can’t remember his name, but one morning, I didn’t answer the phone when my wake-up call came. I’m very much hard of hearing, and if I’m sleeping on my good ear, I don’t hear anything. After trying unsuccessfully to wake me by phone (several times), he came to my room and knocked loudly on my door until I answered. You don’t get that kind of service everywhere!
Also in Tallahassee, I watched over several months as the Microtel was built. I determined to stay there when it was finished. And that I did! It was great . . . very tiny rooms, but the folks who worked there and the service that they gave me made up for the lack of turn-around space in the rooms. If I left Pensacola late on Sunday afternoon and arrived there after dark, too tired to go anywhere to eat, whoever was working would open the breakfast pantry and let me get a couple of little boxes of cereal to have as my delicious dinner. Oh, how I appreciated those folks!
When I came out of retirement from the textbook company 79 days after my big retirement party in Florida, I began working again for McDougal Littell in New Mexico. In my new state, I found Hampton Inns. I was in love with them . . . they had automatic doors! If you’ve never traveled by yourself and tried to get a suitcase and a computer bag through doors that aren’t automatic, you may not understand. I understand, though. I don’t know how many Hampton Inns I’ve stayed in, but I’ve never found one that I didn’t like. The clerks are always friendly, and even the housekeepers are congenial, whether they speak English or not. I’ve had a falling out with the one here in Roswell, where I am tonight, though. The last time I stayed here in the Alien Capital of the World, I found that their rates had gone sky high -- $189 a night! So I’ve found a new hotel here – Comfort Suites, where the cost is $108 a night and where the shower has a regular head and a drench head. Oh, my, I’ve died and gone to Heaven!
That’s about it for hotels for tonight. But I can’t close without telling you what happened in one of those fancy hotels in Chicago, I believe. As usual (before iPhones), I left word for a wake-up call. I had stayed up late the night before and was sleeping like a rock. All of a sudden, I awoke feeling something strange on my toe. When I opened my eyes, I saw a young man at the foot of the bed, wiggling my toe, saying, “Mrs. Young, Mrs. Young . . . are you all right?”
“We rang and rang your phone to wake you up, and we were afraid something was wrong.”
Sleepily from me, “Oh, well, thank you.”
What would you have done with a strange man in your room? The Mouth of the South . . . that’d be me . . . just had to tell the folks at her table at breakfast what had happened. Oh, my . . . the word spread all around the meeting. No one could believe that I didn’t scream and report him for “breaking into” my room. What? I was grateful. I don’t ever like to be late for meetings! The vice president of the company even approached me about it, shaking his head, and saying, “Sandy, Sandy. I just can’t believe that happened.”
Something else happened the evening after my bedroom experience. I received the Rep of the Year Award for New Mexico because of all the textbooks I had sold. Now THAT really was something I couldn’t believe!!