Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travel Story- Part II

Dude, you totally have to start at the beginning. Click here to read Part I.

We finished registering and we went up to our rooms, and I am impressed that we were brave enough to step into the elevator.

Have you ever heard the stories of the Chinese immigrants that are smuggled into this country on cargo ships in steel containers? I think the rooms at the Grant Gateway were designed for these people, for they bear a striking resemblance to those steel containers. The immigrants could use them much like a scuba diver uses a pressure chamber, slowly acclimating themselves to the American environment in the familiarity of the confined space in which they arrived.

I have to admire the engineering genius who fit the bed into the room. I think it may have been constructed there, because I cannot see how it could have fit otherwise. There was an old-fashioned heater in the room, consisting of a very hot gas pipe emerging from the wall, half-heartedly concealed by a metal cage. The air conditioning and only form of ventilation was the open window to the fire escape. The room had a bathroom, but I did not stay long enough to absorb its sordid details.

I dropped my bags and quickly escaped back into the hallway, where Jeff was running out of his room. We were hungry, but the sight of the rooms caused a sudden shift in our priorities. We needed a drink first, to ease the shock of the Grant Gateway.

We had passed a small but inviting Cigar Bar on the way up the hill to the Grant Gateway, so we headed in that direction. We scouted for other restaurants or bars in the area, but the Cigar Bar was the most appealing so we went in.

We each ordered a beer, and then asked the bartender if he knew of any other hotels in the area.

“Where are you staying?” he asked.

“The Grant Gateway, right up the hill,” I told him. He was not familiar with it, even though it was only a block away.

“How much are they charging?” he asked out of curiosity. I told him.

“Seventy dollars a night’s a great rate for downtown,” he said.

“It’s a roach motel,” I told him.

“Chinese run?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

I nodded. A look of understanding crossed his face. “Give me a minute,” he said.

We quickly downed our beers and waited for him to come back so we could order more. We were also curious to know if he found another hotel. He let us know that the Omni was right around the corner. It was recently renovated, and the rooms went for $300 a night. He said there were a few more options, so we waited as he made a couple more calls and we drank a couple more beers.

When he returned, he had a disparaging look on his face. He called the Renaissance, and their rooms were $279 a night but they had no vacancies. They had referred him to another hotel, which also had expensive rooms but no vacancies. As we finished another beer, our luck finally kicked in. A gentleman sitting at the other end of the bar was a manager at the Palace Hotel, and elegant historical landmark that was not only nearby, they had vacancies. It is a hotel that has boarded Presidents Bush (41) and Clinton. The very, very nice and helpful man had called the front desk for us and told them to hold two rooms for us at a rate of $169 a night. We were overjoyed. He gave us his business card and said all we needed to do was show it to the receptionist and we would be taken care of.

This was cause for celebration, so we ordered another round. This round of beers also prepared us for the task of retrieving our luggage from the Grant Gateway.

After we finished the beers, we trudged back up the hill, laughing at our initial misfortune [NOTE: If the Grant Gateway served food, it would be followed with Misfortune Cookies]. We tried hard to appear sober as we went inside and went straight up to our rooms. We grabbed our bags and went to the lobby to check out.

The oriental gentleman with the unkempt hair looked surprised to see us.

“We’re checking out,” I told him. “The rooms are not to our satisfaction.”

As he began to process our check-out, he kindly let us know that they would still charge us for the rooms. I kindly let him know that we would dispute those charges.

“You cannot go check into room, then go out drinking and come back and check out,” he said, visibly perturbed. “If you don’t want pay you come right back down and say we no like the room.”

While he may have had a point about the drinking, I was following a different logical path. And given the number of Sudoku puzzles I completed on the plane, I am certain my grasp of logic was dead on.

“We couldn’t do that until we found another place to stay. We went out and found another place to stay, and we came back,” I reasoned. He didn’t get it.

“You can’t go to a restaurant and eat and not pay,” he argued.

“That doesn’t make sense. We didn’t eat anything,” I argued back. I looked at Jeff. He was trying to suppress his laughter, and he was making a very funny face in the process. Of course this made me start to laugh. Until this point I had been holding it together admirably.

“You can’t eat but not pay,” he said sounding like a broken record. He was clearly missing my point.

“Yes, but we did not stay here,” I said. “We left to find another place to stay. We found one, and now we are leaving.” Flawless logic. I didn’t feel the need to argue his point about our drinking, as it was part of our search for another place to stay because the bartender is the one who helped us find a place and the drinking was therefore necessary.

The oriental gentleman with the unkempt hair printed out two receipts and laid them on the counter for us to sign.

“I’m not signing those,” Jeff told him. It was his turn to speak because we used his credit card.

“You have to sign these,” the oriental gentleman with the unkempt hair told him.

“No, I do not,” Jeff reasoned, providing another display of flawless logic. He also worked on several Sudoku puzzles on the plane.

“Yes, you must sign these. We will charge you for the rooms,” the broken record kept playing its lame old tune.

“No,” Jeff said convincingly.

“I will have to ask management,” the broken record finally started a new track.

“You do that,” Jeff encouraged him.

We could see that our victory was at hand, so we picked up our bags and left before the guy went kung-fu on us. We went back down the hill to the Cigar Bar to celebrate with a round of drinks.

Click here to read Part III and the exciting conclusion of this adventure...


Davin Malasarn said...

I like it when Jeff chimes in because it's his card. What a guy.

Crimogenic said...

Oh man, the broken record would have got a foot to the face from me. Sorry, let me compose myself.

Life is stranger than fiction, c'est vrai.

Rick Daley said...

Jeff was laughing silently whilst I argued my point. I was really glad when it was time for him to step in, because I couldn't hold it in any longer. It was all just too surreal.

The charges never hit the credit card, but if they had that would have made for a sweet epilogue.