Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes when it doesn’t, it does.

What am I talking about, you ask?

It’s the magic of getting a discount hotel room, then slipping the desk clerk a $20 bill.  I’ve gotten some amazing upgrades that way.  To a suite, the last two times.  I was bragging about that to my friend Donna at lunch today.  My partner and I were on our way to a night in Cincinnati, and had stopped in Bloomington for lunch.

I’d scored a $130 room at hotel that would have been $199 otherwise. At the coolest place–it’s a contemporary art museum as well as a hotel.

We parked at a garage around the corner–I was being a bit of a cheapskate.  As we checked in, Dan (I’ll call him), the young desk clerk, told me we would receive a complimentary upgrade to a “deluxe” king room.  Hmm, I thought.  Maybe I don’t need to tip him.

Oh, what the heck.  Let’s see what happens.  I hand him my credit card with the $20 underneath.  Smile.  “Please pick out a nice room for us.”

“Sure, sir,” he replies.  He starts tapping at his keyboard, and I’m thinking this is going to be good.   He finally hands me the key cards.  407.

Fourth floor in a ten story place? Doesn’t sound that great.  Well, we’ll see.  He escorts us to the elevator, offering to carry my bag.  “This is a nice room?” “Yes, sir.”

We find it. Beautiful-stunningly beautiful.  But small.  Not a great view.  

Not a room that you give a tip to get.  And then I realize–maybe this kid doesn’t know how this game works.  He seemed a little nervous; probably new. Maybe he just thought I was a nice generous guy. I was a little pissed.  Oh, what the hell, I think.  You win some and you lose some. I can’t call the desk and bitch that he didn’t upgrade us to a something spectacular, can I?

We’ve got 90 minutes until our dinner reservation nearby, so I change into my workout clothes. In the elevator on the way down to the fitness center is a penguin sculpture.  Cool!  The place is amazing.

The workout room is beautiful, with the best array of cardio machines, free weights, and even complicated-looking machines with pulleys and stuff I’ve seen in a hotel.  Because I’m not familiar with these machines, and strained my right arm with dumbbells a couple of days before, I decide to get on the treadmill.  It asks me for all sorts on data–age, weight, etc., and then wants starts up.  It seems to want to measure my pulse continually, which would be holding the handles non-stop, and also keeps speeding up–like the assembly line in the famous I Love Lucy chocolate-factory episode.  I can’t find a way to slow it down, so I stop it and figure out how to do a manual program.

40 minutes later, I’m really sweaty.  Didn’t have much stamina, but, hey, I worked out.

As I enter our room, the phone rings.  It’s Jacob (as I’ll call him), from guest services.  Apologizing because there’s still no hot water and they don’t know when there will be any. There may not be enough water pressure for a shower.

I tipped the desk clerk $20 and he didn’t even tell me there’s no hot water????  While I was checking in, a guy passed by the desk and said, “The water running?” Someone at the desk replied, “Oh, yes.” 

“Water is good,” I said to Dan. “Yes, sir, it is.”

So now they tell me there’s no water.  When I’m soaked with sweat and it’s time to change for dinner.

“We’re not going to charge you for the room, sir,” Jacob says. “And if you’d like, we can moive you to the Westin, on us.” We decide to move to the Westin after dinner. 

Well, I say to my partner, I can just towel off. “When I washed my hands before, there was hot water,” he says. I turn on the shower.  It’s warm.  I get a nice shower.  The water starts out warm and gets gradually cooler, but it lasts long enough.  great towels, too.  Sorry I didn’t get to try the robe.

We check out.  Dan (at whom I want to scream, “Why didn’t you tell me about the water?” and “What do you think the fucking tip as for?” but am pleasant to) and his colleagues assure me that they’ll get me a refund through Hotwire, and after about 15 minutes produce a letter to the Westin (“Hey–is there letterhead in the printer back there?”).  

We get the car and drive to the restaurant. My partner inadvertently say something that hurts my feelings, and I snap at him.   Some relationship frustrations boil over. 

We get what should have been a wonderful Korean dinner, but, barely speaing to each other, it’s not much of a spring-break party for us.

When we get to the Westin, I don’t bother trying to tip the desk clerk.  Any room is fine.  And it is. It’s nice.   Ordinary, pretty big, better view, and “nice.”  Nothing spectaculer.  

He went right to bed.  I do some work on my iPad, and write this.

So the tipping magic didn’t work.  But we did end up with a free room.  That’s the magic that did work after the first magic didn’t.  And now we can use a little more magic.



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