November 7, 2008

Culture shock: Living with 24-year-olds, living here

I did not expect smooth sailing when I moved in with my daughter and her boyfriend. It is surprising, to me, the things that shock me.

Like, I have learned to bring my own reading material now to the waiting rooms of the hospitals and clinics near this small Tennessee town. First, I never know if I will have Internet access. And second, I'm a reader and I guess many folks around here are not. Otherwise, why so many out-of-date magazines.

I now look to see what is the newest magazine and the oldest magazine in the designated waiting area. Yesterday, the oldest was from 2002 and the newest from 2006.

Today, I read Wired while waiting. Imagine my surprise when I was asked if it was a home magazine. Really. I left the magazine behind so perhaps she read it.

I missed the changing of the leaves in Michigan so it is nice to catch them here in Tennessee. However, I would like some horizontal parking lots here. It is a struggle to get out of the car each time we stop.

The city I left was fairly Democratic; the one I am in now swings Republican. That led to a whole new set of political ads the days of the campaign and conversations I am sure I would not have heard back home. Interesting, but different. OK, I don't want to hear any more about the KKK.

Last, but not least, is finding the differences in how 24-year-olds live. I am discovering new TV programs and channels, new foods, new routines and even some new attitudes.

Did I mention the futon? Or exercise machine that is my clothes closet?

I also discovered the advantages of being first up are a hot shower and a fast Internet connection. Boy, games are Internet hogs :-)

November 4, 2008

Hotel of huggers, great service

My recent stay at a Marriott was bookmarked by service beyond the expected.

I love driving - especially when the traffic is light and good music is filling the car. The four-hour drive to Indianapolis brought back memories of many road trips as a roadie, a musician and a festival organizer. Only now, I could stay in touch with family and friends with a txting splash at each road stop.

I have been to Indianapolis enough times now - to visit friends and IUPUI for seminars and computer-assisted reporting workshops - that I should have remembered how much I don't like getting into the downtown area. The twists and turns are confusing.

Plus, add to the last-minute rush getting ready to go see my daughter in Tennessee after the convention. It added up to a tired woman checking into the hotel about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Guess I looked bad - the hotel gave me room 444 because they said I looked like I needed an easy number to remember - and that was before I discovered my iPhone was missing.

Fortunately, the man who carried in my bags, boxes and suitcases - and I had a lot - went back to my car and found the missing phone.

The second night was broken up by a fire alarm - false - but the rest of the stay uneventful until I tried to leave.

On Wednesday night, I was to get a roommate. So, I had arranged for her name to be added to my hotel room. At 1 p.m., I learned about my daughter's cancer. At 10 p.m., I listened to a voice mail from the potential roommate who thought I was staying at a different hotel and had given up and gotten another room

When I checked out, I was surprised that there was nothing extra on my bill, but I was a little distracted so didn't review as carefully as I usually do.

Something made me stop, though, and I suddenly noticed that the bill showed I had been there one night only. Then, I noticed the bill was for the woman who never checked in. I explained that she hadn't checked in so she couldn't check out and that I needed my bill.

I burst out crying (and gee, I thought I had already cried all that I could). The clerk came out from behind the counter to hug me, then quickly got the right bill -- which did have parking and Internet charges -- and assured me they would sweep my room to see if I forgot anything. They also assured me that that the other woman was no longer assigned to the room.

It took nearly 30 minutes to cross the lobby as Girl Scout friends first greeted me with joy, then disappointment as they learned I was leaving and why. It was a lobby of hugs.

By then, the bellhop and car guys had loaded my car, filled my coffee cup, fixed my map and they, too, hugged me before I left.