Mother’s funeral was on Monday, October 27, 2014. The following day Richard and I drove to Ft. Wayne, Ind. for a visit with Richard’s sister Joanne. After the sadness of Mom’s death and the stress of her funeral, it was wonderful to sit and chat and laugh and write thank-you notes in Joanne’s lovely new home.
We left Joanne’s on Halloween, Friday, October 31, drove 9 hours, and checked into the Holiday Inn Express in Dyersburg, Tennessee for an uneventful evening. We had about 4 more hours of driving to get to Little Rock, so we got up at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 1, and went down to breakfast. At 7:40 we headed back up to our room to brush our teeth and pick up our stuff. The idea was to be on the road early in order for Richard to collect our accumulated mail before the post office closed at 1:00 and for me to replenish our refrigerator and pantry at Kroger.
When we got to our room, #202, the key card didn’t work. I went down to the front desk where a guy, possibly from India, was leaning on the counter and passing the time with Kevin, the clerk. Kevin reprogrammed the key, and I trudged back up to #202 where the key still didn’t work. Down the steps again to the desk, where Mr. Indian now perked up. Here was a little drama for his boring morning. Kevin started to reprogram the card again, but I said, “Give me a new card, please. That one obviously doesn’t work.”
“You want a new card?”
“Yes, Kevin, I want a new card.” I love name tags, don’t you?
Kevin looked over at the observer who said, “Good idea. Give her a new card.” Thank you, Mr. Indian.
I took the card back to the door of #202, where Richard had been waiting. The key mechanism again flashed red and green, but the lock mechanism didn’t budge. Aargh!
Back down at the desk (thank goodness we were only on the second floor and near the stairs) I said, “Kevin, you’re up. You go get that door open. We have got to get on the road.”
“I can’t leave the desk,” he said.
“Are you nuts? Get a master key or something, and get the door open.”
“You better get up there,” Indian guy said.
“Maybe one of these section keys will work,” said Kevin as he shuffled through what appeared to be a junk drawer. Duh, ya think? He tried to hand a bunch of key cards over the counter to me.
“Oh, no,” I said, “this is now your responsibility.”
Reluctantly Ole Kevin, who is probably only 30 or so, but a committed open-mouth breather, headed to #202.
The twelve or so section key cards, not one containing a label of any kind, didn’t work either, and it was pretty obvious by now that the mechanism was broken or out of whack.
Richard suggested that Kevin call the maintenance man, and when Kevin hesitated, Richard made it obvious that he wasn’t making a suggestion.
Kevin headed back to the front desk, and I followed. The Indian guy was back to leaning on the counter. This was probably the best show in town at the moment. He wasn’t budging. Kevin called the maintenance guy’s home phone and left a message, then he did the same thing with a cell number. I suggested the guy could be anywhere–hunting, fishing, who knows where? Kevin was going to have to come up with another idea. Kevin said, “He doesn’t fish.” Oh, good to know!
“You’d better call the manager,” I said leaning over the counter toward him with my face as resolute as possible.
Kevin backed up a little and looked from me to Mr. Indian several times to confirm that he absolutely had to call the manager. After he scrounged through hidden papers for a phone number, Kevin reluctantly dialed and had to leave a message: “We can’t get the door of 202 to unlock. What should we do?”
I wondered who “we” was.
Back upstairs Richard and I waited for Mr. Maintenance. Twenty minutes later I had a brainstorm and called 1-800-HOLIDAY. I talked to Maggie in Customer (Dis)Service who was apologetic but said, “I really can’t do anything. I may have called the manager.”
“You absolutely have to call someone. What about a locksmith? The clerk called the manager with no luck,” I said.
I went back downstairs. Kevin was still clueless, and the Indian guy was still leaning, but he was having a lot of fun. I was rolling my eyes a lot.
Richard now came downstairs, too, and we took up new positions. We had been sitting on the floor of the second-story hall across from our room. We now moved to the chairs in the lobby. I thought Richard was going to implode. After 20 minutes or so, the manager, a loud-mouthed, blonde woman, probably 55 years old, came rushing into the hotel, yelling as she moved toward the elevator, “Are y’all the couple that’s locked out of your room? We’re going to get you in and on the road.” Oh, and imagine the southern accent. She disappeared around the lobby corner and headed for the staircase.
We waited at our new station in the lobby, but after five minutes or so, I had to see what was going on outside #202. I climbed the steps and discovered there were now two cleaning ladies and a guy with the manager. He was not the non-fishing maintenance man. He was Bob, the manager of the Sleep Inn and Suites, which was next door! Who knew how he got there, but Bob introduced himself. Not a peep in my direction from the HI manager.
The SI&S manager at least knew how the mechanism worked, but his keys wouldn’t work in the Holiday Inn locks. All of a sudden the HI manager screeches, “Break the door down! Just break it down! Can you do that?” (The diminutive SI&S manager looked at her with the “Are-you-nuts?” look.) I had looked the mechanism over when we first discovered we were locked out. I suggested an allen wrench. The crack HI manager sent a cleaning lady to the maintenance man’s office for a wrench, and the wrench removed the key lock cover (as opposed to the key card sliding mechanism) which was now revealed to require a regular, metal key.
The HI manager again said, in that grating voice of hers, “We just gotta break this door down. Let’s break it down.” Nobody made a door-breaking move. The couple from the room across the hall came out and joined us. Richard explained the situation to the newcomers. I suggested to the HI manager that she might want to keep her voice down as there might be people on the hall trying to sleep.
The Sleep Inn and Suite guy’s big key didn’t work, of course, in the Holiday Inn lock, but he showed the HI manager the type of key to look for. The maintenance office was ransacked again and produced several keys. None worked, when, get this, the HI manager yells (her only tone of voice), “Wa-it! Do Ah remember there’s an emergency kit in the office!?! Ah think Ah do! Wait rot cheer a minute!” And off she went.
The seven of us hanging around the door of #202 got better acquainted, and before long, Ms. Break-this-door-down was back. Guess what was in the kit? THE KEY!
The room was opened. The magnanimous HI manager announces “Your room will be gratis for the night!” loud enough for everyone in every room on the floor to think they’ve just won the room lottery, and she disappeared. We thanked the SI&S guy, the maintenance guy, the two sweet maids, and the couple from across the hall who dispersed. Within 5 minutes we had our backpacks and were on the road, an hour and forty minutes later than we planned.
Of course, the real issue was, what if there had been an actual emergency, or what if someone was unresponsive in the room? The Dyersburg Holiday Inn would not be a good place to be. As we drove those last four hours to Little Rock, we had a couple of laughs. Honestly, the manager was comical, the complete antithesis of grace under pressure. Chicken with her head cut off, but still able to squawk, comes to mind. Also, Richard and I spent most of the time sitting on the floor of the second-story hallway and then in some uncomfortable lobby chairs where the automatic doors kept opening and closing and letting in cold air. Wouldn’t you think that someone would have said, “Mr. and Mrs. Coote, may I show you to room 215 (or some such number) where you can lie down and watch TV or read while we get this thing sorted out?” Would have been nice. One of the cleaning ladies sincerely apologized for the whole mess. That was nice.
Somehow we made it to Little Rock and our post office with 7 minutes to spare. We collected our mail and drove home. We unloaded the car, carrying in our suitcases then the big screen, flat TV that we had carted home from Mom’s room at her assisted living facility. Realizing that we were way too old and way too weak to remove our old CRT 31” screen, bedroom TV, we laid the flat screen on the great room floor for the time being. Next we discovered our cable box was out. Richard called the cable company. I made a grocery list.
As Richard waited for the cable company, I went off to Kroger. I was heading for the final item on the list, when I got a call from Richard. “Don’t panic,” he said. “I think I got the bleeding stopped.”
“WHAT?!?” I said in a voice that arrested everyone around me in his or her tracks. “Oh, sorry,” I said to the shoppers. “What do you mean?” I said to Richard, who explained that he’d had an accident. Then he added I didn’t need to rush home. Oh, sure!
I checked out and got home to find the cable guy still working away. He couldn’t just change out the bad cable box, he was REQUIRED BY THE COMPANY to replace a bunch of coaxial cable and the modem as well. It was taking forever. Richard was in the bathroom, holding one rag over his eye and trying to rinse blood out of another rag in the sink. He had a big gash over his left eye, slashing through his eyebrow from forehead to eyelid, and it had started bleeding again a few minutes before because he had lifted up a flap of skin to see how bad it was. BAD? IT WAS BAD! I knew he would need stitches, and Richard was balking at a trip to the emergency room on a Saturday evening. Our only option was to get to an urgent care facility. I started making calls. The one nearest us closed at 6:00.
By now it was just after 5:00 p.m. The cable guy was still messing around, vowing for the third or fourth time that he would only be a few more minutes. He wasn’t packing up! Finally, I called Greg, our neighbor across the street. I explained the dilemma and asked him to come over and “sit” with the cable guy until he was finished so we could get Richard’s eye attended to. Greg came right over, and we dashed to Central Arkansas Urgent Care where his cut required 8 stitches!
So how did he get injured in the first place? When the cable guy arrived, he saw the flat screen TV lying on the great room floor with its stand unattached, and he asked if there was the problem. Richard explained that he was going to replace our big, old CRT TV in the bedroom with the flat-screen, but he was waiting for Thanksgiving, at the end of the month, when some family guys would be here to help him move the old TV. The cable guy said, “I’m here now. I’ll help.”
Richard and the cable guy picked up the old TV and took a few steps, when Richard (who had been losing weight) stepped on the dragging leg of his drooping pants. Richard lost his balance and fell down, wedged between the TV and the bed. Although he was able to keep the TV from coming directly down on him, one of the corners caught his eye.
Before I got home, he got the bleeding stopped, then he got out the Resolve Carpet Cleaner, and he cleaned the blood from the bedroom carpet! Talk about pride of place!
So as the days progressed, the swelling abated, but a “black” eye (really purple/red) kept getting bigger and bigger. We were so thankful that he only received a cut and a black eye. He could easily have broken bones when he went down, and who knows what might have happened had the TV picture tube broken? I think a lot more blood would have been involved.
November 1, 2014, a day that began with such a good plan and good intentions, was thwarted by a lousy hotel room lock, incompetent hotel personnel, and a well-meaning cable guy. It was a day that scarred Richard for life and ultimately gave us a lot of laughs.