Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rainy Days and Saturdays....

I got back from Banda Aceh Wednesday evening and have been working (only one more week to go!) to move things off my plate before next Friday. Of course, everything kind of changed mid week, when we found out the project just got extended to April, but oh well. I'm still here for close down!

Friday night I basically collapsed in my huge soft fluffy bed and, Saturday, I got up and worked in a mostly empty office until 5:30. By that time, it was pouring down rain outside (it's the beginning of the rainy season here - mornings are typically bright and sunny, cloud cover comes in early afternoon and by mid-evening there's rain...). Anyway, the hotel is only a 10 min walk from work, so I've never had to nab a taxi before. Not that I could find one at that hour anyway (or one that was empty!) so I started walking. I was carrying my work laptop (luckily, in a carrying case) which was good, because about 1/2 a block into it, I was soaked to the bone.

I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but sidewalks are virtually non-existent here, meaning that even on sunny days, you've got to walk ON the street if you are going to walk. No problem, except that during RAINY days the side of the road is flooded with foot deep puddles of murky water, draining into the nasty open sewer pits (or rather, not really draining at all). So my options were either to walk in the nasty water, or walk down the middle of the street/traffic. I tried a little of each column, but eventually safety dictated that I stay to the puddles. I kept hoping that a car would come by, just like out of the movies, a large tidal wave would over come me, mostly because I've never seen that happen and I was already wet...

I finally did manage to find a man with an umbrella and limited English, who kindly walked me the rest of way to the hotel, but honestly, it was too late for me. I walked into the five-star Four Seasons lobby looking like a drowned cat in flip flops.

And you know, normally I could play that off, because hey, I'm used to looking like an idiot. But this hotel is infested with "helpful" staff that linger at every corner. There are the five security guards at the gate (who have to sweep every car that enters the compound - they even open all the doors - check for bombs at your feet (hello? wouldn't I NOTICE if there were bombs at my feet?) and run a mirror under the car), the four individuals at the taxi stand, the two doormen, the concierge - and there's even some random guy that stands next to the elevator. He doesn't push the buttons for you or anything, he just.......well, I don't know what he does besides watch me and say "good morning/afternoon/evening" when all I want to do is get in the goddamn elevator. Oh yeah, even the elevator annoys me, because you have to swipe your room key to be able to push the button to your floor and half the time the reader doesn't read the half the time I'm stressing frantically in the elevator hoping to god the elevator man doesn't come over and check on me to see why I can't get the door to work....No one should have to stress that much about an elevator.

And,when I get up in the morning, I have to say hello to no less than five cheerful hotel staff before even getting my morning cup of coffee - and for those of you who know what I'm like in the morning, it's really a struggle for me not to punch someone, even though I'm sure they're about as enthused to be greeting me as I am to be greeted.

Right. I understand that this is a stupid complaint. One person's lingering, creepy, watchfulness
is another person's attentive, discrete and pampering premier hotel experience. I realize that I am indeed very lucky to be having this experience at all. But not when I've just waded through calf high puddles that had goodness knows what floating in it. Whatever, so you think I'm a spoiled brat, but hey, my life right now is work and hotel, so cut me a break. I've been ruminating on this for three weeks now.

I think I'm just too darned mid-westerned to really enjoy the luxury hotel experience. Aside from making my bed, I don't want to know that anyone has been in my room whilst I was gone during the day. I don't like coming back and finding my toothbrush moved to where YOU think it should be (I'm in a "GroundHog Day" type struggle with the maid service over this - every day I leave my toothbrush and paste in a cup next to the sink. Every night I come back to find the entire cup moved away from the sink, to a shelf behind me. Now why would I want my toothbrush on the shelf?). I don't need a turn down service to remove the throw pillows from my bed and turn on the shaving lamp in the bathroom. I don't shave!

I think these complaints stem from my "DIY" attitude, homegrown protestant work ethic and deep-seeded desire to do things MY way. It annoys the living daylights out of me that every night, I return to my hotel room and someone has "reset" it to some random standard. What if I DID want my panties in the middle of the floor? Who are you to tell me otherwise? Futhermore, if this truly was a full service hotel, once I expressed my desire for them to stop with the services, (turn down, not panty-pickup) - shouldn't they have stopped?

Yes, I am in a battle of wills with the hotel. Yes, I realize I am going to lose. I also realize I'm dangerously close to taking thing rant into a philsophically bend that I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle.

I think all this ranting is just a symbol of how badly I need to come home again.

M is for My Way or the (Wet) Highway,

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