Recently, I heard the story of how a hotel security camera caught a naked man placing his room-service tray outside his hotel-room door and accidentally locking himself out. It reminded me of the column I wrote in 2011 titled “The Perils of Room Service”—though, spoiler alert—no nudity is involved in my version, below.
I am in the lobby of an elegant San Francisco hotel, but I am not sipping a martini.
What I am doing is hiding—behind a rather large column, in fact. (Doric, if I’m not mistaken. Or is it Corinthian? I always get them mixed up.)
Anyway, yes–I am hiding.
I’m staying out-of-sight because my publishing colleagues—here, like me, for this company-wide meeting—are currently returning in droves from their group dinners and passing through this very lobby. These colleagues are dressed in what is commonly called “business casual” attire.
I, on the other hand, am dressed in what is commonly called PJs. I’m wearing a ripped t-shirt and a pair of flannel boxer shorts.
Oh, and no shoes.
(And no underwear, either, though that isn’t readily apparent…I hope.)
It’s 45 degrees outside on this January 3rd, and every time the lobby door opens, a cold breeze blows in. Not surprisingly, no one else in the lobby is dressed as I am.
So what am I doing here?
Good question. You see, like Teri Hatcher’s character on Desperate Housewives, who always seemed to lock herself out of the house naked, I seem to get myself into goofy situations on a regular basis. But I swear, this one isn’t my fault.
I blame it all on room service.
Allow me to explain.
I almost never order room service, even when traveling for business. It’s expensive and the rolls are always stale. Plus, it requires a lot of will power not to steal the adorable little salt and pepper shakers.
But this evening was different.
I was still exhausted from the 7-hour cross-country flight seated next to a family who played Yahtzee the entire way. Do you have any idea what it’s like listening to dice rattling around in those hollow cups for 7 hours?
To make matters worse, once at the hotel, I had forgotten to change my cell phone to Pacific Time. So when the phone alarm had sounded early the next day, I had groggily showered, dressed, and gone downstairs for breakfast…at 3 am.
In any case, by the time evening rolled around, I was exhausted—so exhausted that I decided to skip dinner with colleagues. Instead, I changed into my PJs, ordered room service, and prepared to collapse.
All of which would have been fine if, when I had finished eating, I hadn’t tried to place the room-service tray outside my door. Because as I bent over to put down the tray, I felt the hotel-room door slam shut behind me. I was locked out. No room key. No phone. No ID. And no pants. (Just the boxers.)
What to do? I saw no choice but to plead my case with the front desk and hope the clerk would give me a new key. As I slipped into the elevator in my plaid boxers, I prayed the long descent from the 22nd floor would not include a stop to pick up our company’s president.
And that’s how I ended up lurking in the lobby. Eventually, by sneaking in cartoon-character fashion from behind the luggage rack, around the ATM machine, to the far side of the column, I reached the front desk. Happily, the clerk took one look at my outfit and called a security guard to let me into my room (and check my ID).
The one redeeming aspect of the situation was that the security guard repeatedly called me “young lady.” This almost made the whole incident worthwhile.
Of course, that bright spot was overshadowed when the guard suggested: “Next time this happens, you should just use the hotel phone to call security.” He pointed to a phone hanging on the wall between the elevators, just outside my room.
Yes, it was pretty silly of me to miss that.
But you know what bothered me more? The certainty with which the man said “next time.”