T here’s more than one St Louis. There’s more than one hotel in St Louis. In fact, there’s more than one St Louis Hotel, and some aren’t even in St Louis.
But I’m confusing things… I mean specifically that I was kicked out of a hotel in St Louis, Missouri.
To begin with, I’m not a morning person. In fact, when Hudson was 5 and asked what ‘nocturnal’ meant when he was learning about raccoons, The Colonel explained by way of saying “It’s like Daddy; he stays up all night.”
So it was with grey mood that I creaked out of bed at 5:00 the morning after Halloween to catch an 8:00 AM flight to St Louis. I was supposed to be in St Louis by 8:00 AM on Nov 1st, but I refused to miss trick or treating with Hudson and Harding, and inexplicably, the midnight Oct 31st flight out of Edmonton was booked solid.
I arrived in St Louis around 3:00 PM thus missing the first day’s events. This was one of the twice yearly marketing conferences hosted by Dan Kennedy, who’s one of those famous people that nobody’s ever heard of.
Among many things too numerous to list here, he’s written a dozen books, he’s the brains behind Anthony Robbins first infomercials, and I believe, launching Guthy-Renker’s ProActive zit crème campaigns.
As an aside, and as Dan is now a one of my revered Platinum Members; Dan, you’ll be pleased to know that your campaigns work splendidly. One Sunday afternoon I came downstairs and Hudson asked if we had $19.95.
“Um…ask Mom” I said. ”Why?”
“So we can get the Refining Mask” he said.
“It prevents future breakouts; a little dab is all you need…”
“Need for what?” I asked.
“Well, I’m not too sure…” he said.
Anyway, there was a little confusion checking into my room at The Renaissance in St Louis. When I’d made reservations a couple of months earlier, they explained that the hotel was full for the Friday and Saturday nights, but I “shouldn’t worry”, come down for Thurs, as there’re usually at least some cancellations.
After checking in, I registered for the conference and wandered around. As the elevator doors opened, I saw a chap we’ll call Eric. Eric has an affected manner and is the last man in the whole wide world sporting a home perm (I hope).
At the previous event in Chicago, Eric adhered himself to me and spent the weekend as a sort of cheerleader, gushing on and on about ‘how great’ my art was, and ‘how funny’ I was, and ‘how lucky’ my wife was (!).
I sensed a theme developing, so I finally ditched him, but here he was again in St Louis.
“Er…hey Eric.” I said.
“Hi! Have we met?” he asked.
This took me back a bit. “Owen Garratt. Artist? We met in Chicago?” I said, nearly adding “and you made yourself a complete pain-in-the-ass?”
Eric looked blank. “Sorry. I don’t remember. I must be getting old; I’m almost 35.”
Whatever. I excused myself and called it a night.
A Drawing for Dan
Presenting Dan Kennedy with his new Original Pencil Drawing
After an unusually uneventful night, I had lunch with Dan on Friday, and presented him with his new original drawing, ‘Preparation’.
Afterwards, I met up with Troy White, a copywriter from Calgary, and David Rachford, a CPA consultant from Santa Barbara, and we became a sort of irresistible force for the remainder of the weekend.
Among other hijinks, we wandered through downtown to see The Arch, found some terrific steaks, and we also perfected The Caesar.
Waiting for a News of a Room
Throughout the day, I’d checked in with the front desk –the answer was to “check back at 1:00”, then “check back at 6:00”. No cancellations, but no notices to pull out either. At 6:00 PM, she said: “check back at 11:00 PM”.
“I fully plan on being asleep by 11:00” I said, which may have been a spot of misdirection on my part.
So we then hit the lounge in the hotel. By 10:00 PM, I reasoned that even if there were no cancellations, all the cleaning staff has long since gone home, so how could they even prep the room if I had to push out? So obviously, they must’ve had some room, right?
When the hotel lounge closed, we hopscotched over the 2:00 AM panhandlers in what I later learned was “The Most Dangerous City in America” and charged down to a perfectly seedy Irish Pub and shut that place down too.
At the St Louis Arch
The first event on Saturday was a breakfast seminar at 6:00 AM, so I can’t report with any certainty what it was about. All I know is that I was awful thirsty, and the wiggly eggs didn’t seem too appealing.
I checked in with the front desk about cancellations, and got the standard response: “check back in a couple of hours.” So I checked back at 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 2:00 PM, after which I went up to my room to absorb some more hangover medicine.
*BOOM BOOM BOOM* “HOTEL SECURITY!”
I thought it was Troy and David, but no, upon opening the door there were a couple of dark-suited chaps.
One looked like Samuel L Jackson’s twin the way Danny DeVito looked like Arnold’s twin, and the other looked like Jarrod the Subway guy after he’d taken that Charles Atlas sand-kicking course.
“My name’s Donald” said the little chap, though it sounded like “Donno”, and he added, “I’m the Assistant Daytime Hotel Front Desk Manager.”
A Misspent Youth?
There’s an overriding opinion in my family that I squandered my 20’s by choosing to be a road musician, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In addition to helping me forge a Liver of Iron, by the time I was 25 I was more than adept at fending off Cougars (well…for the most part), dealing with drunks, bar fights, tow truck drivers, barfers, bank tellers, bouncers, bar owners who wouldn’t pay, cowboy/biker wars, bitter musicians, cuckolded husbands with poor facts, drug dealers, hookers, con-men, enforcers, cads, loan officers, heels, perishers, cutpurses, blackguards, cattle thieves, brigands, cardsharps, collection agencies, scallywags, knaves, pilferers, rogues, bounders, mortgage brokers, and law enforcement from all levels – international, federal, provincial, municipal and private.
It was evident that this was an Officious Blighter; one of those petty personalities who lives to impose their mantle of authority on the rest of us. They’re prevalent in most levels of government – especially the post office, customs, and tax, but they also be found in certain unions, the hallowed halls of academia, and apparently, in ‘Assistant Daytime Hotel Front Desk Managers’.
It seemed clear that this Donald had every intention of frog-marching me right out into the street, and we couldn’t have that.
Instinct tells us to push back, but this is a mistake. The path to victory lays in what Stan Chernoff – A guitar player whom we call The Old Man – used to call mental Judo. I think he meant Aikido, but his point was valid.
I struck a ‘Hai-YA’ pose in my mind and waded in.
The Way of The Pencilneck ®
“Hiya Don!” I said.“
“Donald” he said.
“C’mon in! I’m not really set up for entertaining, but I was just enjoying a nice glass of water and some refreshing Aspirins; can I getcha some?” I asked.
Donald harrumphed and straightened his tie. “I’m the daytime desk manager and we need you to check out. We allowed you to stay here last night as a courtesy.”
‘Well thank you!” I grabbed his hand and pumped vigorously. “But I can’t allow that! I insist on paying.”
Donald blinked. “Uh, yes you will be paying. We allowed you stay last night as a courtesy, a-“
“No no no,” I interrupted. “I insist on paying for the night! It’s only fair. I appreciate you gentlemen coming up here to comp me for the night, but it’s completely unnecessary. I like it here!” I said, clapping him on the shoulder.
“We’re not comping you, you have to pay!” Donald said.
“I should say so – no more of this rot about giving it to me as a courtesy. It’s very kind, but you gentlemen are running a business.” I said.
Donald blinked a few more times. “Sir, we need you to check out of this room!”
“I hope I haven’t been an inconvenience!” I said, aghast. “Why didn’t somebody say so?!”
“Well, that’s what we’re here for” Donald said, gesturing to Jarrod, who was fiddling with one of those earpieces you see in secret service movies. It seemed to be too big for his ear hole, which was all red and itchy looking. Yuck.
I explained about checking with the front desk through the last two days – even after the cleaning staff had long gone. “Now to be fair, she did say to check back after 11:00 PM and I didn’t, as I needed my rest for a 6:00AM business breakfast.”
Donald and Jarrod Lower the Boom
Jarrod cleared his throat and plumbed his ear. “Security cameras recorded you and two other gentlemen returning in what appears to be an advanced state of intoxication at 3:27 this morning. We have you on tape singing ‘Heart and Soul’ in a raucous manner, and we registered two separate complaints from guests.” He winced as he replaced the earpiece that had tried to escape.
“Ah, yes, we were out late,” I confessed, “and what you say is on camera very likely does look like me singing that excellent song, but actually, a closer inspection will no doubt reveal that the true singer was off camera, and was, in reality, an odd duck with a badly permed hairdo named Eric, who, unfortunately, is attending the same conference. I was in a jolly mood and was merely mocking his performance with a few pantomime moves and gyrations; it’s an honest mistake that any of us would make to think that I was the vocalist. Now now: no need to apologize. He’s no doubt a spectacular singer, but yes, it was completely uncalled for at that hour. I’d search him out and hold him accountable.”
Not bad, huh?
Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust! *
I placed a patronly arm around Jarrod’s shoulder, “but, as you’ve introduced the idea, you’ll also see by those same cameras how many times I stopped by the front desk to check on my status as a guest, and you also have phone records to indicate how many times I’ve phoned, as well…You should maybe try cleaning that ear thingy – try some alcohol.” I said.
Jarrod swallowed hard and tried to ease the earpiece back into his skull. Then he tried to compensate by shoving it in extra far, but I could’ve told the ass that it was a bad idea.
“Still, sir, we need this room,” Donald said, somewhat redundantly.
“You know what I think should’ve happened?” I said in a secretive tone. “I think the gals should’ve had me check out, and then they should’ve stored my bags for me. Then, if a room opened up, I could’ve checked back in, or I would have been all set to find somewhere else.”
“Yes sir, that’s what they should’ve told you.” Donald said.
I raised two definitive eyebrows and nodded meaningfully.
“And now look what’s happened” I said “ you two have to take time out of your busy day to come all the way up here when all that was needed was a simple phone call. Well, don’t be too hard on the gals, they’re doing a great job otherwise…but I have to ask, why didn’t you call me yesterday?”
“We had to upgrade someone last night to a suite because you hadn’t checked out,” Ronald said.
“You mean, because nobody asked me to check out,” I said, waggling a finger.
“Ahem. Uh, yes, it seems that way.” Donald said.
“You know, I would never ask for an upgrade for myself you understand, but why not just do the same thing with tonight’s check in? Why leave a room empty? You run such a terrific hotel that it just seems a shame for me to have to go to the competition…”
“Sir, we really, really need this room tonight” Donald was wringing his hands, and his eyes were starting to water.
“Ron Ron Ron…” I said.
“Donald” he peeped.
“What did I say? Yes, Donald, sorry, my fault…let me ask this, If Brad and Angelina stopped in, would you somehow find them a room?” I asked. My next move was to suggest putting me in that room, but Donald jumped a good 20 inches.
“WHY?! Are they coming?!?!” Donald yawped.
“Well, anything’s possible,” I said, evenly.
Donald did a dashed good impersonation of a goldfish, then turned and pleaded with Jarrod, “Is this true?!?”
Jarrod joined in with the goldfishing, and the earpiece saw it’s chance and leapt for freedom.
Donald turned and pleaded “We need this room!!!”
The Coup de Gras
It seemed that larger forces were behind them, so I sighed magnanimously, shrugged my shoulders and said “Okay guys, no problem. I can be up and packed in 10 minutes, will that be alright?” I asked.
Donald and Jarrod both whooshed relief.
“Yes sir, thank you. Please come aga- I mean, thanks for…um…have a good trip home…” said Donald.
“Oh, I’m not going home fellas! I’ll be floating around here for another whole day! We should have lunch! Hey, I can get you a great deal on a course about how to make millions by coaching sub-prime mortgage lenders!” Donald begged off, and they shuffled off with the air of just having been caught in an Abbott and Costello skit.
I cabbed over to another hotel that I’d shrewdly booked as a backup, and still made it back for the next class.
True: I had to check out, and I didn’t get comped or put in a suite like I did in Chicago, but I managed to avoid the embarrassment of getting tossed out on my arse by an officious blighter who gets off on that kind of thing.
Misspent youth my foot…
*Anyone get that reference? Say so in the comments below!
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Superbowl Champs, World Series Champs, and Heavyweight Champs
What do Emmitt Smith, Steve Spurrier, Cal Ripken Jr., Steve Sax, and George Foreman all have in common?
Well yes, they all reached the pinnacle of their sports, but they also had portraits done by Owen Garratt!
Absolutely, but they all loved them, and you can have a portrait done for your superstar too!
Owen and Emmitt Smith
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You are such a legend! The vast majority of humanity (especially in the USA) would be instantly cowed by figures of authority (ESPECIALLY those with an ear piece)…. And certainly would not have the courage nor skill to pull off such humor and confusion. This article entertained me, and earned you even more epic-legend points. I shall file this away in my brain in case any such occurrence happens in my future.
Ha! Yes, but a happier ending would’ve had me staying in the room and enjoying my Aspirin!
This is epic! After working in the hospitality industry for many years, I thought I’d seen it all – well played, good sir!!
I worked at a hotel for a good 8 years when I was still in school. I have seen some things and heard some stories but this one takes the cake! See, I likely would have gotten fired for finding this too hilarious. It has been a few years since I worked there but one of the last things that happened was a group of 30 somethings getting arrested for doing a lot less than you guys. I really enjoyed reading this. I am actually still in touch with my old manager, going to e-mail this to him!