M. Giant's
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Monday, September 09, 2002  

A few years ago, Trash and I found ourselves in Asheville, North Carolina for the weekend. It’s a lovely little town, and if you ever end up there I strongly suggest eating at the Flying Frog. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I order you to eat there. I’m not even kidding.

We hadn’t planned to go to Asheville in the first place, but we ended up there because the place where we were supposed to be, Myrtle Beach, was getting smacked around by Hurricane Fran. So we left. We’re wusses that way.

Our last night in the hotel, it was raining and we were out of stuff to read and we had to get up early the next morning to catch our flight, so we watched TV. This involved a lot of channel-flipping, since nothing good was on, and the batteries in the remote control, already weak, punked out entirely.

Carrying the remote, I padded up to the front desk in my stocking feet to ask for new batteries. The night manager said he’d check to see if they had any. He looked in a drawer, without success. He looked in another drawer. No dice. In a minute, both he and the desk clerk were giving the area behind the desk a thorough ransacking. They were coming up empty, and while I was starting to feel a little sorry for them, there wasn’t much I could do. I’ve never worked at a hotel, but I’m pretty sure it’s not appropriate for a guest to offer to hurdle the desk and start tossing it. Otherwise I’d be doing it all the time.

The manager dispatched the clerk to look in the office, where she again came up empty. By this time I could have driven to the store and gotten my own damn batteries, but it was one of those situations where you’ve already invested so much time into resolving it this way that you don’t want to walk away now. I should have known better.

Finally, it was established to everyone’s satisfaction that there were no AA batteries anywhere. I was out of luck.

A credit to his profession, the manager immediately offered an elegant solution:

“We can move you into a different room.”

Great. What a splendid idea. Just give us a half hour or so to pack up all of our crap so we can move across the hall to a room where we can watch twenty boring shows at a time instead of the one boring show we’re stuck on now. Since we’re checking out in nine hours, that just makes all kinds of sense.

I really didn’t want a functioning remote that badly, and I politely declined. Then I floated an alternate remedy:

“Can you take the batteries out of the remote in an empty room?”

The manager and the clerk looked at me as if I’d just invented electricity before their eyes.

“We can do that,” the manager said with frank awe. And so they did. It only took another ten minutes. By the time I got back to the room, Trash was operating the TV manually. She asked what had taken me so long.

I said, “You know, it’s bad for you to sit so close to the TV.” It’s a good thing I was still holding the remote, because she probably would have thrown it at me.

It’s nice to know that whatever else happens, I have the innovative thinking and problem-solving skills it takes to be a good hotel manager. Or at least a better one than some I can think of.

posted by M. Giant 3:25 PM 0 comments


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