March 17, 2008

Prelude to a Race / Mini-Marriott Review

As I mentioned yesterday, most people seem to plan their races in advance. But yesterday morning, I found myself on the 8:30 flight to Boston, knowing that I was going to do a race, but not sure which.

There was a 5K in South Boston sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club. That one started at 10 AM, so the question was if I would make it there in time. There was a “hash” in Cambridge complete with drinking and a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl, where the question was if I was brave enough to join this group of complete strangers with wildly inappropriate names who would most likely give me a nickname of my own. And finally, there was the Ras Na Heireann in Somerville, where the question was if the guy I had found via Yelp to sell me his extra bib would come through, because the actual registration was already sold out. At 9:45, I was in a cab on my way to the hotel, already making plans to brave the hash in Cambridge when the mysterious “Tim” called, offering to meet me in 30 minutes to give me the bib. Thus, my plans were made.

My plan was to stop at the Marriott, scramble into my (green) running clothes and drop off my stuff, then immediately catch a cab to Somerville. If all went according to plan, I could be there in 20 minutes. But when do things ever go according to plan? After checking in, I headed up to my room and confidently slid my keycard into the slot. Red. Tried again. Red. Tried the door anyway, wondering if this was some weird cultural thing where red means enter and green means it didn’t work. No dice. So I head back downstairs to tell them that my key isn’t working. The guy at the front desk tells me that I probably messed it up by holding the card near a cell phone or credit card, which would demagnetize it. No, I didn’t do that… but he insisted upon giving me a new keycard and trying again. I trudge back up, only to have the same thing happen. It’s now 10:05, and with a 15 minute cab ride ahead of me, I was going to be late. Dashing back downstairs, I inform the guy that no, it is not working, and no, I did not touch a cell phone or credit card. He sends someone back up with me to “verify” that it’s not working. Thanks… I think I know when I can’t get into my room.

At this point, the staff has already listened to me tell them that I need to get to this race, so the assigned concierge and I half jog to the elevator. I spend the elevator ride apologizing for being in a hurry, because I hate being rude. We get to the room, and she verifies that it does not, in fact, open the door, and makes some explanation that I didn’t quite follow about how someone is in there. Which – don’t they have records of when people check out? And don’t they clean the room in between guests and record that as well? Was this an employee who had illegally taken over the room for a nap or something? I didn’t get it.

Regardless, we jogged over to the phone by the elevators, where another staffer was waiting. He called down to the front desk, and quickly conveyed that we needed another room. Seconds later, the elevator door opens to reveal a third staffer, with a key in hand and instructions to go to room 737. Instead of being annoyed at being late, I was actually kind of impressed that they had four people waiting on me hand and foot to get me out the door. They showed me to my room, asked if it was okay, and then left me alone to throw open my suitcase, dig out my race gear, change, and sprint back out.

…race report to come later today…

When I returned to the hotel with my friend Kristen later that afternoon, ten minutes after we had settled in and channel surfed, there was a knock on the door. I open it to see a guy from room service, and I open my mouth to say he has the wrong room… when I see a card on the tray with my name on it. He says that the front desk has sent this up, and where would we like him to put it? We say the bed, where we’re sprawled out enjoying Beauty & the Geek, and he obliges. Once he’s gone, we squeal with glee at our good fortune:

Thank you, Marriott. You can give me an occupied room on every stay, if it results in treatment like this.


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