Last year I went to California for an event. Because of the event I stayed overnight in a nice hotel that had an elegant but cozy, Ritz Carlton – Cottage on the lake kind of feel. In the morning I woke up at a leisurely hour regretting not booking a longer stay but it was too late.  I had just enough time to shower and eat before catching my flight home. I bathed, ate, and got dressed all the time so I wasn’t expecting problems. And I was really looking forward to a long hot shower. It’s chilly, you know, before the warm, steam-pistoned grace of the gods starts to rain down on you. You want this part to be as quick as possible. But I was confronted with a circuit board of about six knobs that had to be manipulated in some combination the front desk didn’t give me. I’m getting colder and hungrier. I wonder if I should call downstairs and ask what the combination is. I don’t want to sound low-class, but I had no idea what the other four knobs were for. Thank god I figured it out and the next several minutes were excellent. But then it wouldn’t turn off. I couldn’t reverse the steps to save my soap. It wasn’t the most responsible choice but I gave up and told myself Room Service would know what to do. I didn’t want to spend any more time on it. I wanted to eat. I wanted to be warm. I should have spent more time on that thought though, because why would room service  know anything about the shower? I mean, even if Housekeeping had delivered the food, how would they know the mystical combination that unlocked the shower? They just clean it. How often would Room Service deliver food and then start a guest’s shower? Or stop by a room and take one before they go home? A knock at the door. I scrambled inelegantly into the enormous, heavy bathrobe and let the Room Service guy in.


He looked to be about 90 – both pounds and years old. Ambling in, politely setting up my tray, making it just right, he was so kind I felt bad asking him to do something else, especially something so stupid, but we can’t just let the water run forever. It’s California. I almost ditched the idea in favor of trying again myself, but I didn’t and he tried and he couldn’t turn it off either. Then with blinding speed the old gentleman animates. He sprints to the phone before I could voice an objection and I hear words and they are saying, “Engineering? We have a problem with the shower in #318.”   Engineering!


Then just like that he was gone, pleased to have been of service. I stared at breakfast, thinking how much better it would have been to spend a few extra minutes figuring it out so that I would not be about to ask an engineer how to turn off my shower. There was no time to cancel it. He arrived in like two minutes. Everyone is so fast in this place. Even though uncalled for, it almost made up for it that his expression was stern and he wore a tool belt. How can you look annoyed before you even know what the problem is or is not? Nevertheless, as anyone would,  I temporarily sympathized with all those people who are short on their rent and can’t pay for pizza. He seemed like he wouldn’t find that as amusing as I did, and I am an adult so I kept that thought to myself.

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