Throughout my management career, like many of you, I've been a road warrior; and I chronicled some of those adventures in my book, AFTER HOURS. My business travels have taken me all over the planet, which required stays in many different types of hotels. There were quite a few interesting events that occurred during those times, one of which I'll relate in this epistle. |
Before I do I want to mention that lately I've gotten into the habit of checking for bedbugs based on scary articles I've read in newspapers, airline magazines, and over the Internet. The infestation is blamed on increased travel by international voyagers from countries where health, personal hygiene, and sanitary conditions are poor. Soon as I enter a rented room, I pull back the covers and sheets and get down close--scanning for critters--but I'm not sure I could spot them anyway. The little varmints are said to be as small as pencil erasure dust. Oh well--so far, so good.
As bad as discovering bedbugs would be, it would be preferable (I think) to what a business friend of mine discovered in her room in Minneapolis. She was in bed catching up on some paperwork with the television droning, and ready to turn in, when she could no longer ignore a peculiar (and extremely unpleasant) odor; an odor she'd noticed off-and-on upon entering the room. The stench seemed to increase in intensity the closer she got to the bed. Most hotel beds today are on platforms. Her's was the old-fashioned mattress on box springs type. While trying to locate the source of the smell she peeked under the bed. She discovered a dead body! Who could've left something like that there? Talk about absent-minded.
Here's one of my adventures, which is an excerpt from a chapter in the sequel to AFTER HOURS:
I had to attend a meeting scheduled to take place in a hotel near Los Angeles International airport--LAX--right there on Century Boulevard. The meeting was with engineering managers from our factories located nationwide. I was their executive "mentor" or something like that, which just goes to show how misguided our company was. Imagine me being anyone's mentor! What a hoot! Anyway, we all flew to LAX the afternoon before, checked into the hotel, went to dinner, made sure a meeting room was set aside for the next day, and retired for the evening. Shortly after midnight the place really started to rock; and I don't mean "Woohoo, party!" rock, I mean building swaying back-and-forth rock. All of us, about seven in all, were lodged on the twelfth floor and above. See, the higher you get, the more pronounced an earthquake seems, but my reaction (having previously lived in California) was to snuggle in and enjoy the rock-a-bye-baby sensation. What woke me and got me around was the thundering of everyone else in the hotel descending the stairs to the sound of a very annoying alarm. I figured (me being such a caring mentor) I should check on the guys so I casually dressed and took my time descending. I was the last person out of the hotel. I found the others buzzing excitedly in the middle of Century Boulevard. Most of the guests were laughing and carrying on like they'd been to a notable event like a presidential inaugeration. You could tell they had a story they would tell, retell, and exagerate for the rest of their lives.
One of the engineering managers from Texas, Bill, was there with his wife. They planned on taking in Disneyland after our meeting.
"Scariest damn thing I've ever experienced," said Bill, which is a typical reaction to one describing a first-time earthquake encounter. The others, including his wife, agreed.
"Oh yeah?" I yawned. "When do we get to go back in?"
"I ain't goin' back in there, leastwise not any time soon," said Bill.
"Well hell, guys, we can't stand in the middle of the street for the rest of the night or until they let us return--God knows when that will be. Let's go to the Centruy Club and get a couple drinks. Who has car keys?"
The Century Club was formerly one of the nicer bistros along the boulevard, and was still nice, but a little worse for wear than when I last frequented the establishment some fifteen to twenty years earlier.
"Where do I park?" asked Randy a former Eagle Scout who was always prepared. That included making sure he had car keys when he left his room.
"Pull up right in front," I instructed. "They have valet parking. Just leave it running. They'll see us, park the car, and bring the claim check inside."
"I don't know..." Randy was a bit uneasy.
I became impatient. A mentor (that's me, heh-heh) should not be questioned--just do as you're told, Grasshopper! "C'mon! I used to come here all the time. I know the system."
"Well, okay..." Randy wasn't comfortable with my suggestion, but being a good follower did as I said.
The bar was packed with merrymakers having an impromptu earthquake party, many of whom--some in pajamas--came off the street like us. Still we were able to find a vacant booth, and were soon engrossed in conversation with everyone around us. There was a definite festive vibe going on. Purses and jackets were stashed and piled everywhere, but mostly on top of shelf-type areas that separated the booths.
After we consumed several cocktails, Bill decided he was "powerful" hungry and ordered some kind of refried bean, avocado, jalapeno montrosity with extra jalapenos and corn tortilla chips on the side. It looked and smelled rancid. Bill dove into it with gusto, but the rest of us stayed at arm's length. The blob looked alive. I swear I saw it pulsating.
"Geez, Bill, go easy on that stuff." advised Randy wrinkling up his nose, but he did steal a corn chip.
"Yeah," I echoed being ever the mentor, "That stuff looks like it's saying, give me nonstop diarrhea, please."
"Heck, this is mild; the kind of stuff we feed babies in Texas," sneered Bill. "Ain't that right, darlin'?" he said to his wife.
"That's rat!" she exclaimed loudly and grinning broadly.
"Just remember you're the one sleeping with him," said Randy. "You may want a separate room. I predict massive flatulence."
She looked over the top of her glasses at Randy, and winked a knowing smile, "Honey, I kin give as good as ah git."
After he was about halfway through the steaming, cow pie, look-a-like, Bill started to turn a bit red. He ordered two beers to put out the fire inside.
"You don't look so well, big guy," I said. "In fact, I think I hear some rumbling."
"You all rat, honey?" Bill's wife looked concerned.
Now he turned a kind of pale greenish hue. "I need a restroom," he said thickly.
"The GENTS is right behind the bar." I pointed the way.
"No, I've got to go back to the hotel."
Misunderstanding, I said, "If it's too crowded there's a convenience store next door. Seven-Eleven, I think."
No, they're worse. I can't do road games--use public restrooms. They're too unsanitary. I need a home game for dropping a deuce, especially a loose deuce."
"Hey, that's a Beach Boys song, MY LITTLE LOOSE DEUCE," said Randy getting a laugh from everyone but Bill. "Listen, Bill, we'll never make it. I've got to get the car, and we're several miles away. Besides, we don't know if they'll let us back in yet. Then there's the elevators..."
"Ohhh," moaned Bill, and he stiff-legged, quick-marched with puckered sphincter to the men's room behind the bar. Audible retching was heard before the door completely closed.
He returned after about twenty minutes looking much better, but still a bit shaken and uneasy. "Man, that was intense. I had fluids coming out both ends."
"You should write a book," observed Randy. "You know, about a new weight reduction plan based on hurling, the runs, and night sweats--you'll get those later. What do you think?"
Bill looked annoyed and did not respond. He finished his beer and suggested we return to the hotel because he wasn't "finished". Additional porcelain throne episodes awaited.
I looked at the time, which was a tick after two in the morning. "Well, we're meeting at nine, guys, I guess we should hit the road." No one objected.
"Hey, I never got a claim check for the car," Randy said clearly worried.
"Oh yeah--I forgot about that," I said wondering. Maybe the system changed.
We went through the front door looking for the valet, but there was none in sight. The good news, however, was that Randy's rental car was parked where we left it with the engine still running.
As we approached the hotel, there was nobody standing outside; therefore, signaling it was safe to return to our rooms. Bill breathed a sigh of relief. He also leaned close to his wife and said in a hoarse whisper (that we all overheard), "Darlin' I had a little accident back at the club, and had to remove my boxer shorts. I rinsed them out pretty good--got most of the skid-mark stains out. I wrapped them in a paper towel and stashed them in your purse."
"In MAH purse?"
In mah PURSE!"
She gave him a long, wide-eyed look. "Well, honey, ah din' brang no purse."
The good news was that some lucky lady received a slightly used pair of men's soiled underwear as a gift--which was also the bad news. I figure that made her earthquake story even better.
Copyright by Gene Myers - Read more adventures in "After Hours: Adventures of an International Businessman http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AfterHours.html Also available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and www.borders.com
New from Gene Myers: "Songs from Lattys Grove", PublishAmerica (August 2010)
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