The MerchWhore And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

21 Feb

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You know those days where things just don’t go your way? The guy at McDonald’s put extra onions on the cheeseburger your ordered without onions. Your favorite sweater came back from the cleaners with a loose thread that ended up unraveling the whole thing. Your dog peed on your bed. You know how frustrating that can be, right?

Now imagine that, only you’re nowhere near home. It stinks.

After our bitterly cold week in Milwaukee we had a much needed week off, so I flew home to Kentucky to stay with my family. It was a pretty nice stay – fairly relaxed and chock full of heavy foods (and the subsequent acid reflux), sweet tea and lots of time playing with the dog. It was relaxing and allowed me to decompress a little. It was great.

Because our next city was Cincinnati, which is only an hour and a half from my parents’ place, my Dad drove me up on Tuesday afternoon and dropped me off at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Cincy. Now, when I think of the Millennium Hotel, I think of the high-end skyscraper hotel in midtown Manhattan, so I was very excited to think that we were staying in the same chain here. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati property is not so high-end, but it’s certainly not the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. I dropped my bags and a couple of weeks’ worth of snacks and canned sodas off in the room and headed to the venue to load in the show.

When I arrived at the theatre, I discovered that one of the new casters on the booth had not just broken, but had broken in half with a clean break, so the caster was flat on one side. I don’t even know how that’s possible – I’ve never seen anything like it before – but our head carpenter, Noah, came out and replaced the wheel like a boss and the night went swimmingly. After the show I ran into a couple of the cast members and we decided to meet up and order a pizza in their room.

How does a wheel even break like this?

How does a wheel even break like this?

We decided on Domino’s, and so Ryan called the nearest store and tried to place an order. After being on hold for more than 10 minutes, he was told that he’d called the wrong store – they didn’t deliver to our address – and he was given the number of another Domino’s that was actually further away. He was on hold with the second store for 20 minutes before they finally answered and one hour later our food was finally delivered. Whatever…we had been watching Jimmy Fallon and the Olympics and part of “Titanic,” so we didn’t care too much, but still…an hour and half to get a pizza??

Wednesday was a low-key day spent in the hotel, but I left early enough to stop at Skyline Chili, which is famous for their Cincinnati-style chili, which has cinnamon in it and is served over spaghetti under about 10 pounds of shredded cheese. After about four bites of the stuff, I paid the bill and left. I know many people love it, but that was some of the most disgusting stuff I’ve ever eaten. By the time I got home from the show I was starving, and I had enjoyed our pizza so much the night before that I decided to order one for myself, so I put in an online order with Domino’s and enjoyed my pepperoni, beef and green pepper pizza for the second night in a row.

Skyline's Cincinnati-style Chili

Skyline’s Cincinnati-style Chili

Thursday I planned to venture out and visit a museum or two in town. I specifically had decided on the National Underground Railroad Museum and maybe the Harriet Beecher Stowe house if there was time. I invited the entire company to come along if anyone wanted to. Apparently no one did, so I stayed in and started to get stir crazy. I left in time to get some dinner at the Chipotle that I’d found on my AroundMe app on my phone. Of course I couldn’t find the Chipotle, so I ended up at Subway. Still, I ate before the show and everything seemed to be going well until I got an email from our company managers. Apparently there was a bed bug scare in the hotel and we were being offered the chance to move to another hotel a few blocks away (and closer to the theatre). I had planned on going back to Louisville on Sunday night after the show, so I thought it would be silly to move for just two days, so I decided to stay at the Millennium…stick it out…stiff upper lip and all that. The hotel wasn’t that bad and, having had bed bugs back in New York, I’d have been keenly aware if I’d been bitten by anything. Still, it leaves one a little unnerved.

The night just went downhill from that email. My sales were absolutely abysmal – maybe the worst night I’ve ever had on the road. I mean…awful. By the time I got out of work, I was hungry, so I went across the street to the tavern that I’d heard had a late night menu. I walked in the door at 10:15 and the woman who greeted me told me the kitchen had closed at 10:00, but I was welcome to call in future orders at 9:45 and pick it up when I finished with work – usually around 10:30 or 10:45 if I’m busy. As appealing as cold food sounds, I think I’ll pass on that idea.

I headed back to the hotel, hoping to find something that was open, but everything near our hotel apparently shuts down at dusk. I mean, not one thing was open. The area near our hotel is strangely dark and eerily desolate – there’s no light and no one on the street. There’s also a huge construction site on the backside of the hotel – another reason people were eager to move. It’s gigantic and dark and not somewhere I want to be by myself late at night. When I got “home,” I went to the restaurant/bar in the hotel and asked to see a menu. It was 10:20 and I was told that the kitchen had just closed, but I could still order room service until 11:00. (Isn’t the food all coming from the same kitchen?)

I resigned myself to breaking my “No Room Service” policy and dashed up to my room to look over the menu and get the call in before 11:00. I tried the Room Service extension four times and each time I called I got an automated message from Verizon Wireless. Certain that the extension was incorrect, I called the front desk and asked them to connect me directly. I got the same voice message twice more. I decided to try one last time and lo and behold the call was answered!!

The menu listed the hamburger plate (a burger and fries) as $10 plus $.50 for cheese. That’s $3 cheaper than a salad, by the way. Before I hung up the phone, the woman on the other end of the line said, “OK…with tax, delivery charge and tip that’ll be $18.50.” I called her back and cancelled the order. I’d seen someone downstairs with one of their burgers, and it certainly didn’t look like an $18 burger to me.

I went downstairs to the front desk and asked for delivery menus – anything that wasn’t pizza. They handed me a Chinese take-out menu for a restaurant that had closed just 5 minutes before. The only other option was Rosa’s – an Italian place known for their pizzas. By this time I was fuming. I knew I had leftover pizza in the fridge upstairs, but I really didn’t want pizza for a third night in a row. But I ate it. I choked down two slices and had to put it away. If I’d eaten another slice, I’d have thrown it back up. I don’t want to look at another pizza….maybe ever.

After begrudgingly eating my cold pizza, I settled into bed to watch the ladies’ figure skating finals. The wind had started to pick up and I heard some rain hitting my windows, but we knew that some storms were supposed to come through. No big deal. Just after Ashley Wagner finished her freestyle program, however, the cable went out. No more TV. Not long after that, the internet cut out. It wasn’t even 12:30 yet! Luckily, Ryan had invited me over to his room to watch a movie, and his internet was working, so I was able to keep myself occupied for the rest of the evening. But I missed the rest of the figure skating finals. The cable still wasn’t back on at 11:00 this morning.

I made a plan to cheer myself up by going to the Cincinnati Zoo today. I decided I would wake up early and take a cab out there and just spend the day shooting pictures and taking in the sunshine. I ended up sleeping a little later than I’d planned, but I still had plenty of time – the zoo is only 3 miles from the hotel, so by cab it should have only taken about 10 minutes. I showered, I ate breakfast and I headed downstairs out to the valet station where I was told I could get a cab.

The valet walked over to the three cabs that were parked out front and started talking to the drivers. Of the three cabbies, only one was willing to drive me the 3 miles to the zoo and, of course, he took the longest route possible to get there. He offered to give me his number for when I was ready to come back, but considering it was $22 to go just 3 miles, I said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I was certain I could get a cab to take me back and cheaper. Yeah…about that…

The zoo was great. The temperature was chilly but not cold, the sun was out though most of the animals weren’t and there was no one there. Well…that’s not true. There was a family that kept taunting the snow leopards, including the father who kept sticking his fingers between the wooden slates of the exhibit gate. I overheard him say, “They keep biting at my fingers!” and I secretly wished they’d take one off, just to teach him a lesson. He taunted them so much that I actually considered finding a zookeeper and reporting him, but there weren’t any to be found. I wonder if he made it out alive today?

I wanted to make sure I left for the hotel with plenty of cushion time for traffic and such. As fun as these little excursions can be, I’m here for work, so I have to make sure I get there on time. Our company managers send us what’s called a city sheet every week for each new city we go to. On that sheet are the names, addresses and phone numbers of various hospitals, doctors, hotels, restaurants, points of interest, etc. as well as taxi companies, so that’s where I went first to call a cab. I called Company A at 3:40 and they told me they’d be there in 15-20 minutes to pick me up. By 3:48 they’d called back and left a message saying they wouldn’t be able to make it. At all. So I called Company B. They also told me 20 minutes. After 30 minutes, they still hadn’t shown up, so I called back and the dispatcher hung up on me. I called the hotel for more taxi suggestions and they connected me to Company C who told me they didn’t have any cabs in Cincinnati. Huh?? I then took to my iPhone and started searching for cab companies. By this time it was 4:30 and my goal had been to be home by then. I called two more companies (that’s D and E, for those of you keeping track) before one finally could guarantee me that the driver would show up, which he did – 15 minutes later. Because it was so late in the day, and on a Friday, no less, the traffic was kind of bad and again the ride ended up being about $17. With the exception of the San Diego Zoo, this might have been my most expensive zoo day yet.

I try not to complain too much – I really do. I may make jokes and poke fun at the stupid things that people say and do, but I try to keep away from full-out complaining and whining about things because that generally does no good and turns people off. And there is a difference between being sarcastic and sardonic and just flat-out complaining, by the way, but sometimes you just have those weeks on tour when you just hate whatever bloody city you’re in.

Some of my friends that live in Cincinnati seem to have taken some offense to my frustration with their city. I commend people for sticking up for their home, but living here and being stuck here for two weeks with no car and no way of getting food after 10pm are two totally different things. Having to move mid-week because of bed bugs – or even the threat of bed bugs – isn’t something someone who lives here typically has to deal with. Or maybe it is – Cincinnati is the #2 city for bed bug infestations in the country according to a 2012 survey by Terminix. Cincinnasty! (To be fair, New York was #3). I’ve never been to any city where I’ve had to call five different cab companies to get service, but since I don’t have a car, it was the only way I knew of to get home. People who live here know where to go and what parts of town to avoid and while the denizens of Cincinnati may know or claim it’s safe, I don’t know that as a visitor. The area around our hotel certainly doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. A friend of mine who lives here now used the “you used to live in New York, walking around at all hours of the night” retort when I said I didn’t feel comfortable walking back to the hotel late at night, but the difference is that you are surrounded by people in New York. Here, the streets are completely quiet. There’s no one out. No one to help you if you’re in trouble…no safety in numbers. This is, of course, no one’s fault, but all of these things added together have made for a miserable two or three days and the prospect of 8 more days of it makes it all the more maddening.

One silver lining? I’m supposed to have dinner between shows tomorrow with one of my very best friends from middle and high school and his wife. I think we may be having breakfast on Sunday before the show, as well. Wade and Jenny are expecting their first child together very soon, so I’m glad I’ll get to see them for a bit before things get really hectic in their lives. I’m also supposed to meet a friend from college for lunch at some point next week and a friend from Dayton is coming down next Saturday to see the show, so we’ll have dinner Saturday night before the show, as well. All good things. It’s getting through the rest of our time here that concerns me. Still, I’m going to try to have a better outlook on things the rest of the week. We’ll see how that works out…I’m nearly out of Twinkies and I can’t make any promises once those are gone.

Have you been to Cincinnati? What did you do here? What do you recommend?

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One Response to “The MerchWhore And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Snow What Happens Now? | Confessions of a Merch Whore - March 2, 2014

    […] escape to warmer climes? Things haven’t been all that bad this week – certainly better than last – but I’m now so conditioned to moving every week that I’m just ready to get the […]

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