What Do You Expect?

Baby grand piano in hotel suiteI generally expect things to work out – except when I’m traveling. Experience has conditioned me to expect the worst when I leave home.

I expect the airplane will be overbooked, the schedule delayed, or the flight cancelled. All these things have happened to me.

At the hotel, I expect they won’t have a room, will dismiss my confirmation number as meaningless, suggest I share a room with someone else, or direct me to a different hotel. All these things have happened to me, too.

When booking a recent trip, the travel site delighted me by offering a package rate for my airline and hotel. The deal was so good I almost felt guilty. I grabbed their offer but expected things wouldn’t work out.

The first sign of trouble came when checking into the hotel. The desk clerk’s easy banter soon gave way to concentration as he typed futilely on his keyboard. Finally he called someone, talking in subdued tones about room availability. I overheard just enough to know there was a problem.

“I’m sorry, but we’re all out of the rooms you paid for.” I held my breath, expecting the worst. “So we’ll upgrade you to a suite.” This seemed like good news, but his tone suggested otherwise. Was “upgrade to a suite” a euphemism for “we’ll stick you in a crappy room because we’re going to lose money on your package deal?”

I thanked him for the “upgrade” while wondering what “upgrade” really meant. At least I had a room. I trod down corridors of nondescript doors that surely opened to ordinary rooms. These were not my destination. What awaited me?

Then the hallway widened. Spotlights revealed a walkup, double door entrance to a special place, one displaying my room number. I checked and double-checked. Still unconvinced, I tried the keycard. It didn’t work. Figures. I tried the second key and on the third try, the green light flashed.

I opened the doors to a grand sight, spacious and sophisticated, something I’d only seen in movies. It took some exploring, but eventually I found the bedroom. The whole place was bigger than our first house, elegantly furnished, boasting two bathrooms, three TVs, and a baby grand piano.

This was certainly not what I expected.

[This is from the June 2013 issue of Peter DeHaan’s newsletter. Sign up to receive the complete newsletter each month via email.]

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