Let Us In! Let Us In! (Let Us OUT! Let Us OUT!)

26 Aug

You can never predict what will happen on the road. Today, for example…I went out…I took a nice walk…I visited a museum…I got locked out of my hotel room for nearly two hours.

My original plan for today was to rent a car and drive to the Garden of the Gods, but I slept in a little later than I planned and, honestly, I wanted to save some money. When I arrived in Denver two weeks ago there were free passes to the History Colorado Center on the call board backstage, so I grabbed one, and I decided to use it today. I took a lovely mile-long walk to the museum, stopping a couple of times to take some photos of things that I found to be interesting or beautiful and then spent a good two hours walking around checking out the exhibits. There were some very interesting exhibits there and I very much recommend a visit there if you have the opportunity. There was one exhibit in particular that I found to be very disturbing regarding the Granada War Relocation Center, also known as “Camp Amache” in southeast Colorado. It was one of the many Japanese-American internment camps our government sanctioned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. I had heard of such places, but I honestly don’t remember ever being taught about these concentration camps on our country’s soil. Because I don’t know much about the subject, I’m going to refrain from writing further about it until I’ve had an opportunity to do some more research. But I do plan to write more about it.

Anyway. After the museum, I headed back to the 16th Street Mall, where I grabbed some lunch and stopped by RiteAid for some toiletries and then walked back to the hotel. I was hot and tired – it was about 94° out today – and my stomach was full, which was making me sleepy. I just wanted to go back to my room, change clothes and take a nap. After all, that’s what days off are for…right?

I got to the hotel around 2:00 and headed straight to my room on the 14th floor. I swiped my electronic key and…nothing. No beeps, no lights, no clicks…just nothing. So after a long wait for an elevator, I headed back down to the front lobby to have them reactivate my key. The front desk receptionist told me to try it again and if the key didn’t work this time to just call down to the front desk using the courtesy phone near the elevator bank so I wouldn’t have to come back down again. When the newly reactivated key didn’t work, that’s just what I did.

“Thank you for calling the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver. This is ____________. How may I help you?”
“Hi. This is Jason Bratton. I’m staying in room 1420…I was just down there about my key not working. The reactivated key isn’t working, either.”
“Ok. I’ll send an engineer up to room 1422 to take a look at it.”
“No…no, I’m in 1420…not 1422.”
“Ok. 1420. And you are Mr. Braxton?”
“No. Bratton. B-R-A-T-T-O-N.”
“Ok, Mr. Braxton. I’ll have someone come up in a moment.”

An engineer finally came up about 5 minutes after I hung up the phone. He probably had to wait forever for the elevator, too. He swiped his key and nothing happened. He told me the battery in the lock unit was dead and then hemmed and hawed about how he hates when this happens.

“It looks like you’ve got a problem,” he said.
“Actually, I think it’s the hotel that’s got a problem,” I responded.
“Well, all your stuff is in there, so it is your problem.”

He had a point.

He told me he’d need to go get a second engineer to help him get the door open so they could change the battery. He told me he’d be back in 5-10 minutes and that I could come down to the front lobby lounge to wait. I really didn’t feel like going back downstairs, so I declined and chose to wait it out in the hallway. I could wait 10 minutes. No big deal.

Fifteen minutes later I was still waiting for him to return with his buddy. I stopped a housekeeper and asked her if she could give me a roll of toilet paper because I was out and then I explained that I was waiting to get back into my room. She correctly assessed that the battery was dead in the lock and told me that it shouldn’t take very long once the engineers got back to get inside and fix it. She was wrong.

I’m not sure why it took so long for them to return to my room – all they came back with was a battery and a contraption that looked like a cross between a plumber’s snake and one of those nooses they use to capture rogue alligators in Floridian’s backyard pools. I quickly surmised that the idea was to slide the contraption under the door, hook the door knob with the noose and then pull so the handle would come down and the door would open. Easy, right? Apparently not. After about 15, maybe 20, attempts, the guy operating the contraption said, “Maybe we need tape.” The other guy, who had been standing at the door saying things like, “It sounds like you got it! OH! You had it, man! You had it!,” agreed and headed back down to the basement to get some duct tape. In the meantime, the guy with the noose continued over and over and over to get the door open. Didn’t Einstein say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? I think he was proven right today.

Finally the second engineer came back with a roll of tape. They covered the noose with the duct tape, I guess with the idea that the tacky tape would help them grab onto the door handle. After 10 or 15 attempts using nearly a half a roll of tape, they started talking about getting out the drill. All the while, I’m sitting in the hallway floor as hotel guests walk past, and then eventually my housekeeper friend reappeared in the hallway.

“Are you still not in your room? It’s been at least half an hour since I saw you last!”
“Actually, it’s been an hour,” I thought, but I just forced a smile and shrugged my shoulders as the two men to my left wrestled to get my door open.

Ninety minutes after arriving back at the hotel, they finally got my door open. My housekeeper friend, who had disappeared briefly, returned with two $10 vouchers for the restaurant downstairs and a free bottle of water. “I thought you might like this for your trouble,” she said. Had that been the end of it, that might have sufficed, but it took another half an hour for them to replace the battery and then reset the lock, so I awkwardly meandered around my room, cleaning up since I haven’t had my room cleaned since I got here.

“How long are you staying with us?,” the first engineer asked.
“I’m here 20 days in total. I’ve already been here for two weeks. That’s why my room looks like it exploded.”
Twenty days!?! Phew! That’s a long time,” he replied.
“Yeah. Today was my day off.”
“What a way to spend it, huh? Locked out of your room.”
“Yeah. Not exactly what I had planned…”

I know things happen on the road that you can’t plan for, but…shouldn’t hotels have back-up plans for this sort of thing that don’t involve a wire hanger and duct tape? If your hotel is equipped with electronic key systems, shouldn’t someone have come up with a plan to get into a room should there be a battery or power failure? Do they not train for things like that should there be an emergency situation? Thank goodness I didn’t have anywhere to be today, like work or the airport. That would have been a nightmare!

Hilton HHonors (can anyone explain the second H?) tweeted that they would make the hotel management aware of the situation, so I’m hoping they’ll see fit to give me some additional Hilton points or something. I’m not usually one to feel entitled to free stuff when things like this happen, but it was an inconvenience and really, they should have been able to get me into my room much faster than they did. We’ll see what happens. My friend Chris said the same thing happened to him once and the hotel comped his entire week. I’m not expecting that, though I wouldn’t be opposed to it, either. I mean, really…at this point I might be assuaged if they just offered to do my laundry for me so I don’t have to tomorrow!

What are your travel headache stories? Hotels…airlines…busses…taxis…cruise ships…whatever. I’d love to hear them!


One Response to “Let Us In! Let Us In! (Let Us OUT! Let Us OUT!)”

  1. asaracoff May 28, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I had a problem with one of the sun airlines, either Suncoast or Sun Country (I can’t remember). It was like 5 or so years ago when my dad and I where going to visit family in St. Paul, Minnesota from San Diego. We like good travelers get to the gate maybe an hour or so ahead of takeoff approx noon. Noon comes and goes… 1 comes around no plane…5 pm and plane is here yay! But no “YAY” they have plane issues of some sort and we board at about 7pm and wait…..and wait… and wait…. at bout 8~9pm we get an announcement “the plane is too heavy and we will have to remove your luggage from the cargo hold” 45 minutes later we finally take off.

    The next day my dad got a call saying “Your luggage is now in Georgia and we are trucking it to you.” We got our luggage 2 days later.

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