A Hotel Fire Alarm
A Lot of Travel
Travel for Work
For several years I traveled for work. I was a computer software applications analyst, and I traveled to hospitals around the country. I often had to get up by at least 5:00 AM to be on site at hospitals to assist with their computer systems implementations.
While staying at hotels, several times I had been awakened by wrong numbers or unnecessary calls on the room phone. I was once awakened in the middle of the night by the front desk telling me that a messenger from the airport had my missing luggage. I said that I was not missing any luggage, and hung up. They called me back and again said they had my luggage. I was sure that I had all of my luggage. I told them again that I was not missing any luggage and hung up. After that, I stopped answering my hotel room phone. If my wife needed to reach me, she would call my cell phone.
Work travel usually required long days on site at the hospitals. We would often be at the hospital for 10 hours or more, and then we had to go back to our rooms and work on email, voicemail, and deal with issues from other customers. So 16 hour days or longer were not unusual.
One night I was traveling with a colleague, Lorena, and we had to leave very early the next morning to get to the airport. Around 1:00 AM my phone rang. I didn’t answer it. A few minutes later I heard people running in the hallway. I was really annoyed. I thought, “Who would let their kids run up and down a hotel hallway in the middle of the night.” I tried to go back to sleep, but the noise in the hallway continued. I finally got out of bed, walked over to the door and looked out the peephole.
A Shocking Sight
Getting Dressed in a Hurry
The instant that I put my eye up to the peephole, I saw two firefighters walk by wearing face masks, and they had oxygen tanks on their backs. I gasped and stepped back. What a shock that was. I immediately went over and picked up the phone receiver. I didn’t even get a chance to say one word before the front desk clerk rapidly said, “Mr. Grimes, we have an emergency and we need everyone in the lobby immediately. I had not even identified myself. I could tell the clerk was very stressed.
After seeing the firefighters, my first thought was that if there was a fire, and they had to spray water in the room, there was no way that I was going to let my suit get destroyed. So I got dressed and put on my suit. Then I thought, I am not going to risk losing my company-owned laptop. So I packed my laptop into my briefcase. I then headed toward the lobby.
Dressed for the Occasion?
When I got to the lobby, I saw people in various stages of dress. Some of the people had clothes on, some were wrapped in towels and some were wearing robes. One man looked at me and said, “Wow, you look like you’re ready to go to a business meeting.” I laughed and realized that I really did look out of place.
Answer the Phone
I looked around and did not see my coworker, Lorena. I went up to the front desk and told them that my colleague was not in the lobby. They called her room, woke her up, and a few minutes later she came down to the lobby fully dressed. Apparently, being a frequent traveler, she too had taken to not answering her hotel room phone at night, but the second call made her think something was going on.
We were only in the lobby a short time before the firefighters gave us an “all clear.” Apparently, there was a problem with some fumes from the heating unit. We all headed back to our rooms. I had about two hours before I had to get up. I felt sort of bad that I made them wake Lorena. However, after that, I started answering my hotel room phone again. You never know when there might be a real emergency.
I do not recommend what I did. If that had been a real emergency such as a gas leak or a fire, even a second of delay could mean death. The smart people were those who showed up in the lobby half dressed. They would have been the ones to survive a real emergency.
A Speedy Takeoff
A Very Comfortable Ride
With almost no sleep, I was exhausted on the way home. As the airplane was speeding down the runway for takeoff, I felt the pressure of the engines pushing me into my seat, and I thought, “This is so comfortable.” The next thing I knew, I heard the pilot say, “We are beginning our initial descent..” My first thought was, “Oh, I hope I didn’t spend the entire flight loudly snoring!”
© 2018 Ron Grimes