Friday, July 29, 2011

Checking Into The Wrong Hotel

When one travels a lot and is subjected to many time changes it's easy to get confused, forgetful or disoriented. Of course if one is pre-menopausal or menopausal, the symptoms are much the same, however for the sake of this encounter, I claim my symptoms to be a direct result of excessive travel and not due to pre-menopause!

While home for a brief break a while ago, my driver and I were sitting in the lounge room on a very rare occasion, watching a bit of television. However, I confess that for me sitting still and watching television doesn't exactly mean that my mind is focused and my concentration is on what is happening on the television. Sometimes I may be pondering something in my mind, or I'll be reading while one eye occasionally darts up to the screen for a quick catch-up, or I'll be fiddling on my mobile phone, or I may actually to talking on my mobile phone, or I could even be emailing someone from my iPad.

On this particular day, I have no recollection of where my mind was or what was stopping me from focusing on the television program, but I do recall - with rather vivid memory, that we were watching a program called "Getaway". At the end of the show the presenters very often mention to viewers that they have some or other "special" that is currently being run.

It's a bit like those programs where the presenters sell products that would never sell in a shop if they were ever allowed to gain entry. They tell you this story about how fantastic the product is, then they tell you the price - which is usually exorbitant - then they very quickly grab your interest again by telling you that if you call in the next ten minutes you will get not one - but (wait for it...) two of the same products for the price of one. But you have to call in the next ten minutes!

The so called "special" on the Getaway program was much the same, call in the next ten minutes to qualify, but have your credit card available....

I was still doing what I was doing, which was focussing on something totally different, when in the distance I heard my driver ask if I was familiar with the hotel the presenter was advertising. Since I had been periodically checking-in I was able to confirm that I knew exactly which hotel was being referred to. My driver then wondered aloud whether it would be worth spending a night in said hotel to unwind and spoil ourselves.

It was at this point that my senses became fully alert and I realized what was being said. A night in a luxury hotel in the city sounded marvelous. I briefly inquired why one would spend a night in a hotel in the city when one lives exactly fifteen minutes from the city, but was shut down when my driver asked if I thought it a perfectly ludicrous idea.

"Are you kidding? Of course not," I replied. "What a wonderful idea"

While thinking about what we could do in the city for a night, I jotted down the telephone number on the screen and began to call. We could figure out the details later, right? For the next half an hour the number was busy. I'm almost convinced businesses take their phones off the hook so that patrons can't get through immediately to make them more determined because that's exactly what happens to me!

I kept on dialing the number and I kept on getting a busy signal. Eventually the phone rang and went into voicemail. At this point I was convinced that I had missed out on the deal, but just in case I stood a chance, I left my contact details and forgot about the whole ordeal.

The following day while out shopping, my mobile phone rang and when I answered it the voice on the other side announced that they were returning my call from the night before. By this stage the novelty had worn off and I didn't really feel like a hotel stay but then when the sales lady told me that if I booked two nights I could get the second night for free, I weakened and made the reservation. What can I say, I'm a sucker when it comes to a good deal!

The following day we had our little suitcases packed and the only consideration was whether I wanted to take my sports car or my drivers car. We were booked into a fabulous hotel right on the Sydney Harbour, so naturally it would be great to drive the little sports car there, but when I thought about the valet driver taking my car on a drive around the city before parking it in the underground parking, and when I thought about some jealous person walking past my car in the garage with his car keys "accidentally" scraping against my car from front to back, I decided to leave my sports car at home for safety reasons instead. I think my driver was hoping we'd take the sports car, particularly since I had told him we were going to be staying in one of the poshest hotels in Sydney, but you understand where I'm coming from, right?

Before we left the house my driver asked me - like he always does - whether I knew where we were going, whether I had a print out of the booking confirmation and whether I needed directions. I was incredulous because I know Sydney like the back of my hand but I agreed to all of the above, everything was well under control.

I directed my driver to the hotel and was glowing when we arrived and the valet attendant opened my door for me and helped me out of the car. He walked around to my driver and asked for the keys so that he could open the back to remove the suitcases. He was gushing when he asked us whether we had a good trip into the city and I smiled back and told him it was just great.

He asked us for our names and at this point I told my driver to leave the check-in procedure to me. I announced who we were and he immediately directed us to the check-in counter.

As we approached the check-in counter, a young man stood up and walked towards us with his hand extended. He grasped mine and said welcome, then he asked what my name was and of course I obliged by telling him everything; name, surname, mobile number, availability.... Only kidding, but I could have if I really wanted to...

He then introduced himself and asked how I was. "I'm most well, thank you and thank you for asking. How are you?". He was very obliging too and told me that he too was doing just great. He sat us down and asked me if I had a reservation number and I told him that I most certainly do. At this point my driver became agitated and asked me where the print outs were and I flashed him one of my famous glares which mean - in no uncertain terms - butt right out Buster!

If truth be said, I actually have no idea what I did with all the print outs between getting into the car at home and back out when we arrived at the hotel. I started to panic - not that anyone would notice because I was being my charming self. I mentioned to the lovely young man that I may have to dig around for the paperwork and he told me not to stress at all, he could just look it up on the system. Nice idea, I thought while I left him to bang away at the keyboard in front of him.

He asked a few trivial questions about how my morning had been and told me that the weather was fabulous and I agreed about the weather and told him the morning had been relaxing. Then he asked me when the hotel reservation had been made and as I was about to tell him, my driver again butted in and asked me in an angry tone where the print outs were. The concierge told us not to stress again and apologized for any inconvenience, he insisted that everything was under control and that he'd have us in our room in no time at all.

He tapped away at the keyboard again and at that stage the valet attendant had returned with a receipt for our parked car. I then noticed a surruptitious interaction between the two and realized it was time to find my lost paper work. I started digging in my hand bag and retrieved the bundle of papers just as the concierge began asking more questions.

Of all the questions he could have asked, he asked when exactly I had made the reservation. Annoyed at his incompetence, I sighed, rolled my eyes and handed over my booking confirmation. Take that! He had a good look, showed the concierge and immediately stood up. Then with an expressionless face, he handed me back my booking confirmation and quietly told me that we were in the wrong hotel.

My mouth fell open and I was about to argue when my memory started working overtime and I retrieved some of the information about which hotel exactly had been advertised on the Getaway show. I soon realized that I had got my information wrong right at the concept stage! My driver was red faced and I burst out laughing. We were both mortified.

The concierge and valet guy immediately took hold of our suitcases and began to escort us out of the hotel. I couldn't stop laughing and eventually the concierge too laughed and said not to worry, this happens all the time. Then I had to ask him to direct me to my hotel because I had no idea where it was or what it was called. He was reluctant to divulge all the information, but pointed in a general direction.

When the valet guy brought our car back up he looked disgusted. He handed the keys over like he was holding a dirty nappy.

Thankfully our hotel was not too far. We didn't get a valet service and the parking was in a fenced off location across the street, but we had two very relaxing days!

~ Vanessa

Legend: My Driver - Kimo

Monday, July 18, 2011

Emergency in a Hotel

What do you do when you're in your hotel room and a siren comes on and a voice screeches from somewhere in your room: "Emergency, evacuate immediately. Emergency, evacuate immediately?". Over and over and over.

I must admit this is the first time this has happened to me and what unfolded was not what I would have expected to happen.

It's a Sunday afternoon. The rugby is on the television, so my driver is slumped over the leather couch drinking a beer while I walk around the joint turning on lights, opening drawers to see what's inside and just generally having a good snoop when the siren sounds.

Of course this is the very last thing I expect so I freeze. In the meantime my driver gets an equally big fright and shouts at me from behind his beer, "What did you do?".  "Nothing," I shout back. "I'm minding my own business."

The alarm continues to sound and the voice continues to say: "Emergency, evacuate immediately."  A few seconds have passed and my driver is still perched on the couch, beer in hand and I am still frozen, but my eyes are scouting the place like a chameleons eyes. What's just gone through my mind is that perhaps if this noise doesn't die down we may actually have to evacuate.

Then all my senses kick in and I immediately begin to smell the air like a dog, wondering if something is burning in one of the rooms. I can't smell any smoke at all. I can't see smoke either but as good measure, I decide it's probably a good idea to open the front door.

By this time my driver has jumped up and is running around the room tracing my steps trying to figure out how I set the alarm off. Then he realizes we should probably evacuate and he runs to the back door and opens it up, shouting that we need to get out.

I almost run but then I realize that my camera is on the table, my lenses are in the bedroom, my jewelry is in the safe along with my money and my mobile phone. There's no way I can leave all this for the looters when they run in as soon as we run out.

My hand hovers over my camera as I try to think of the quickest way to get all my valuables together and how I will carry them all in my arms without destroying them. I'm still not convinced that I should be leaving the room, even though the siren is still sounding its alarm and the voice is still urging me to evacuate immediately.

My driver is outside the back door shouting for me to move when I realize the alarm is not coming from my room only, but from all over. Everyone has been urged to leave! I run for the door and as soon as I exit, another voice sounds, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please ignore the alarm. This is a false alarm, this is a false alarm!"

My heart is racing, my mouth is dry, my head is pounding.... And the worst thing is, if this really was an emergency, I really didn't get it! It took a good few seconds for me to realize what was really going on and then when I did, I was reluctant to leave my possessions.

Hours later, my driver and I debriefed and as I recounted what I had seen, my driver had a totally different memory of the events as they unfolded. He was adamant that as soon as the alarm went off he raced to the front door to check out the evacuation procedure. Just goes to show how different our thought processes can be from the reality of what happens. Who knows, maybe I never hesitated at all. Maybe I had already gathered all my belongings and was waiting outside at the muster point with everyone else....

How would you respond in a situation like this? Has this happened to you before? What would you do?

~ Vanessa

Legend: -

My driver - Kimo

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Law of Attraction

Have you ever had a situation whereby you were either in conversation with someone about a random topic, or you were reading a book about a random topic only to discover a couple of days later that that very same topic comes up in a different form?  And when that happens you instinctively think; “Gee, what a coincident I was just reading or just talking about that.”

Where does that come from?  Is it a coincident?  Perhaps.  I believe in coincidence if something happens once, but if it seems to happen over and over again then surely it can no longer be a coincidence?

One day I was at a dinner party with a whole group of people.  We were each given a number on entry and then had to sit at the seat that held the number on the piece of paper we had drawn. The significance of this is that on entry you were guaranteed that you would not sit next to your partner because your numbers would be totally different.

I sat across from a very interesting man.  After breaking the ice with some really trivial topics like the weather and what each of us did for a living, we got onto more interesting topics.  I asked my new friend where he was from and as soon as he began to talk I saw his eyes light up and his body language changed completely.

He was bouncing on his chair and his eyes were sparkling as he told me about the place he had been living in.  He spoke of the incredible beauty of this place in the summer months and the enormous array of things to do on a daily basis.  He mentioned that as an adventurist, this place was fantastic and the adventures were endless.

I couldn’t help being drawn in, even though at times I felt he might have been embellishing somewhat.  He spoke freely and easily and everything he said was intriguing and exciting and I couldn’t help wishing for a lifestyle like that or being able to live in a place like that.

That night with the same sparkle in my eyes, I relayed the story to my husband who had been sitting at a table with someone else who was not nearly as intriguing as my dinner date.  I spoke about how much I’d love to live right there where this man had been living and how I’d love that lifestyle.  Of course my husband had agreed with me but gently mentioned that it was almost impossible to get to a place like that and then of course, once there what the hell do you do to keep yourself alive?

About five years ago, I remember having dinner with my husband’s boss discussing the future.  He asked me what my ambition was and what my long term and short-term plans were.  Trolling through my mind, I remembered this place that I discussed so extensively with my dinner partner a few years before and told this man that although I know this is something that would never happen, I would love for us to live in a place like this.  I mentioned the places name and discovered that this man had not only never heard of this place, but he didn’t even know where it was on the globe!  I excitedly recounted my memories of the conversation I had had at the dinner party all those years back and ended by telling him that this is actually where I’d love to spend some of my years.

In the meantime, my husband flew to Korea on a business trip and bought an adventure book to read on the plane.  When he returned from his trip, he told me that I would never believe what book he had read while he was away.  It turned out that the book he was reading was all about the surrounding area of the place I had been telling everyone that I’d love to live in one day.

Surely the laws of attraction were at work all this time because one day very soon after his trip to Korea, my husband got the call from his boss offering him a job in Yellowknife, Canada.  The exact place my dinner date had discussed with me, and the exact area that was in the book my husband had read on his way to Korea. 

Coincidence or law of attraction?  Have you had a similar thing happen to you where the law of attraction has worked in the background to line everything up for you?  If so what is your story?


~ Vanessa