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Service with a smirk, umm, make that a smile


A nice, hot bath will fix anything, except for maybe my pride.

I landed in Dayton, Ohio around 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night last month. . After a day of getting the newspaper to press and taking planes from Wichita Falls to Dallas, then to Dayton, I was dog tired.

The Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop was to begin the next afternoon, and all I wanted to do was get to the hotel, the Dayton Marriott ,and take a shower before bed.

Forty-five dollars to a cabbie later, I was checked in to my hotel and on the way to my room on the fifth floor. You couldn't miss it, it was the furthest room possible from the elevator, which is awesomeness defined when you're pulling a suitcase that weighs 50 pounds after midnight.

Few things are more disappointing in life than stepping into a hotel shower to what can only be described as fairies spitting on you, and being lackadaisical about it. And then realizing how early you're going to have to get up the next morning because what felt like 15 minutes of rinsing conditioner out of your hair actually was 15 minutes of rinsing conditioner out of your hair.

True story, I lived it.

The next two days were relatively uneventful as far as the bathroom was concerned, other than having to plan further ahead than I ever have in my life to have enough time to get ready in the morning.

But Friday night proved to be the exclamation point of shame on my trip.


I got into my room about midnight and decided to take a bath, because frankly the shower fairies weren’t cutting it for me anymore.

I started the bath water and put on the hotel’s courtesy bathrobe that's been bleached so many times it can stand up on it's own. That's when I noticed that my room service coffee was still on the floor of my room from that morning.

For whatever reason, I chose that very moment to become a neat freak and picked up the tray, took it out to the hall and placed it in the corner next to my door.

Then I heard the door shut, which makes it the fastest shutting door I've ever had the privilege of standing on the wrong side of.

And from the wrong side of the door, I could hear my bath water running.

So I did what any rational human being would do. I cussed and checked my Marriott robe pockets for the key. And, it wasn’t there.

I looked down the hallway, which by now I had affectionately renamed '5k Memorial Walkway', and saw two women go into their room far enough down the hall that I doubted soundwaves could reach them. But, it appeared to my trained eye that they were wearing Erma Bombeck workshop nametags.

So I did what any rational human being would do. I started trying to figure out which door they went into so I could knock on it and use the phone.

I set off down the hall barefoot and wearing nothing but a robe I now believe was woven of cement, start and bleach.

After all, it was that or treat the entire west wings of the first, second, third and fourth floors of the Marriott to an impromptu midnight bath.

Miraculously, I found the right room on my first try. When the woman opened the door, the only way I can describe the look on her face was somewhere between blank and stifling a laugh, I explained what happened.

She invited me into her room to use the phone and her friend came out of the bathroom and didn't even stifle her laugh. I reeked of Clorox and embarrassment.

In what was possibly the fastest response to a call from a guest, a hotel employee – a man – showed up in less than two minutes with a new key to my room.

Although I had spent the prior minute and a half reminding myself not to make eye contact, I looked at him. And I'm pretty sure he smirked. Or, maybe it was service with a smile.

Either way, I made it back into my room before attorneys had to get involved.

And I took my bath. It was perfect, actually, and I got to have an adventure in a 100-lb. bath robe.