Friday, June 18, 2010
A Comedy of Errors
We planned to start the filming at 9am on Thursday, so I drove over to Dayton (2 hours east of Indianapolis) on Wednesday night. I stayed at the a hotel in Dayton that is part of a well known brand. This is where the comedy begins. As I arrived there were several cars parked in their front drive apparently witing for the Valet to park them. I found an out of the way place to park my car and asked one of the Valet Attendents about accessible parking. He told me that I could either have them park my car, or park it on my own in the garage next door to the hotel. Parking on my own sounded like a longer walk than I was up to, so I asked if their valet drivers were trained in hand controls, knowing that they wouldn't have that training. He was very accommodating and said that I could leave the car where I had parked it for the night. then I went inside.
In the lobby I was next in line to check in, but it seemed like the people in front of me were taking a long time to check in. While waiting other guests arrived to check in behind me. After a few moments one of the Desk Clerks announced that they were having problems making keys. I gave it a little more time and could see the frustration rising for the staff and the guests who were waiting, so I moved over to the desk and asked if I could suggest a solution. That solution being that they get the guests checked in and have a staff member with a master key escort us to our rooms. The Desk Clerk that I spoke to thought it was a good idea, checked me in, got a master key from the Maintenance guy, and then she came around to help me get my luggage from the car and escort me to my room.
When I got to the room it was the non-smoking king that I had asked for, but the arrangement seemed a little strange for an accessible room, which I had been garaunteed when I made the reservation. I was tired, and possibly a little ditracted by the attractive Desk Clerk, so I made the mistake of not checking out the bathroom before she went back downstairs to see if my keys were ready. I sat down and called my parents to let them know that I was finally in my hotel. While I was on the phone with Dad the keys to my room arrived. When I finished my conversation with Dad I finally went to check out the bathroom. It wasn't large enough for my wheelchair to fit, and there was no hand held shower head in the bathromm...not an accessible room.
I called the front desk and spoke with the same attractive Desk Clerk who had helped me before. She was very apologetic and moved me as quickly as she could. Unfortunately the only accessible room they had was a smoking room with two double beds. It wasn't ideal, but it would have to do. This time, before the Bellman who was assisting me left the room I checked out the bathroom. It was actually pretty good, but the hand held shower head was positioned at a heighth that no person with a mobility impairment would be able to reach, so I had him lower it for me before he left. At that point I felt like I had covered all of the bases and that there wouldn't be any more issues. Then I started looking around for outlets so that I could plug in my legs to charge the batteries up for a new day...no outlets.
Again, I called the front desk and explained that I would need a powerstrip. It took a little while, but it finally got there. It was now 9:00pm and I still hadn't had dinner, so I ordered roomservice. The food was good, and they got the order right, but there was one thing that made me laugh. If you've ever ordered roomservice before then you should be familliar with the plate covers that they use to keep the food warm and the way the stack covered plates on top of each other. Well, I had ordered an appetizer with my dinner, and I just had to laught at the fact that they stacked my entree plate on top of the appetizer plate! Does that make any sense?
At 10:30pm I called for roomservice to come get the tray from my room. The guy that answered told me he would send someone up and that I should just put the tray on the floor outside the room. I explained to him that I was in a wheelchair and that I wouldn't be able to put the tray on the floor, much less outside the room. He said ok and that he would send someone up. As of 11pm no one had arrived and I was ready to go to bed. I figured out how to balance the tray on my lap and got it to the door, only to discover that I couldn't get the tray down on the floor. I had to take the things that could have spilled off of the tray, then dropped the tray on the floor causing all sorts of noise, then replaced the items I had moved and slid the tray into the hall. At 8am when my breakfast arrived I noticed that the tray from dinner was still in the hallway!
At 8:30am I called down for a Bellman to help me get my luggage to the car. CTS was less than a block away, so I assumed that even if it took the Bellman 15 minutes to get to me I would still be able to get to CTS by 9am. (What happens when we assume?) At 8:45am no bellman had arrived. I called the desk to check and was told that he would be up in just a few minutes. I stressed that I really needed to be leaving in less than 5 minutes. At 8:55am I called the front desk again. This time I informed them that I was supposed to be at CTS at 9am and asked them to call CTS to let them know that I would be late, as I had left all of the contact information in the car and couldn't leave my room for fear of missing the Bellman. The Bellman arrived at 9am and apologized profusely. He escorted me to my car, took down my cell number, and promised that he would have the manager call me.
I got to CTS at 9:08am and my day really improved from there. At 10:30am I had a little break and decided to call the hotel to see if I could speak with the manager. I was transferred to the GM's office, where I left a voicemail, but I never heard back from the GM or anyone else. Now, with my background I can tell that all of these issues came from a lack of staffing and poor technology, but there was also a serious lack of awareness when it comes to guests with disabilities. If I ever do get to speak with a manager I will definitely offer my services for training. I should also note that all of the staff members that I had personal contact with were very friendly and accommodating, especially the cute desk clerk! :)
After the fiasco at the hotel and the filming at CTS, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Centerville Rotary Club with Dr. David Smith, the CEO of Community Tissue Services. The purpose of our presentation was to inform the Rotary club of the services offered at CTS and hopefully to inspire them to support CTS and become tissue donors themselves. Dr. Smith has given many of these presentations in the past, but this was the first time that he has presented along side a tissue recipient. After the presentation he told me that he felt the presentation had a greater impact because the audience got to hear from a person (me) whose life had been impacted by a tissue donor. I'd have to agree, because the audience certainly was engaging when we got to the Q & A part of the presentation! I hope that this was just the first of many joint presentations for us!
Seriously, I wonder how common it is for people in the hospitality industry to have their own "comedies" when they travel? I'll bet it would be fun to swap stories. :-)
Glad your taping and speech went well. I'm sure that made it all worthwhile!
Looking forward to seeing you in a month!
Thanks for sharing this information with me this morning at check out. I had to laugh at your story having been in the hotel business all of my adult life. The stories could fill an entire set of encyclopedias and then some.
It was also great this week to see your disposition and sunny smile, not knowing what you've been through and now I do. I am passing your blog on to my co-workers and many of my friends who I think would be interested in the tissue information as I think it is a little known area for most.
All the best to you and your family. It was a pleasure to have all of you around and I hope we will see you again sometime. I have passed on your suggestion and am sure that we can make some adjustments with the shower. Thanks for that.