Rage And Despair In The Business Center

by Kevin Burton

   Dear, gentle, intelligent Page 7 reader, may I ask you a question?

   What would you say is the key element, all things considered, in the business center of a hotel? What makes a business center a business center?

   If you were told by a hotel employee that, yes, said hotel has a business center, what is the one thing you could safely assume was located in that room?

   OK, that was three questions but really it was the same question pointing to the same obvious answer, right? Namely one or more computers.

   So imagine my dismay when I entered the so-called business center at the Hampton Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and saw nothing but a long wooden ledge where at least two computers should have been sitting.

  I rushed to the front desk.

   “Computers for the business center,” I gushed, so unnerved that I didn’t even form a complete sentence. It was more of an accusation really.

   “Nope” she said and seemed proud of herself. “People usually bring their own laptops and nobody was using them so they took them out this summer….”

   “When we called you we specifically asked you if you had a business center,” I said.

   This woman actually said as I was walking away “You should have asked specifically about computers…”

   That was not what I needed to hear. That was guaranteed to set me off. What we had now was incompetence multiplied by impertinence.

  I whirled around. “No. That’s just ridiculous,” I told her.

   Some better angel made me stop talking at that point. There was nothing to be done now.

   “These hotel people are a flock of silly geese,” I fumed to my wife Jeannette, not at top volume but near top word-spitting force, “Very silly indeed.”

   I may have even said “gooses” I was so unhinged. I sort of blacked out really so I’m not sure what I said.

   My wife could tell you maybe, but please don’t ask her.

   So what was the big crisis?  Why my mental breakdown three days into a thus far glorious vacation?

   Well this happened on a Tuesday.

   Tuesday, for those of you not into fantasy football, is waiver day. It’s the day fantasy managers unleash their genius by selecting new players for their teams and by discarding underperforming players.

   The decisions of which managers get which requested players happen sometime in the misty early hours of Wednesday.

   Think of Tuesday waiver day as a weekly Christmas Eve. I get my shiny new toys Wednesday morning, but only if I have put in my requests Tuesday.

   Waivers is like writing that letter to Santa and hoping for the best.

   In other words, I was facing a deadline here, and I was being thwarted by this hotel and it’s smart-mouthed night clerk.


   Had I known these people didn’t have computers I would have selected some other company for our Sioux Falls lodging.

   I continued at length to explain to my wife just how silly the hotel workers were. But I needed a solution and fast.

   “Oh whatever dude, just do it on your phone,” I hear you saying.

   Two things here: first, I am one of the last holdouts still proudly using a flip phone. Second, because I am a flip phone user my wife’s smart phone was now cold comfort. With my being less than proficient with smartphones, I got a picture of me, trying to work this cursed thing and accidentally cutting one of my superstar players.

   “I’m not going to do this,” I said.

    Ah but then friends, in my hour of deepest despair came a verbal lifeboat, a South Dakota miracle really. An angelic voice offered a message, Jeopardy-style, in the form of a question. It floated down to me through several layers of my white-hot indignation.

   “Don’t libraries have computers that people can use?” said my bride. As I turned to her, I noticed that she was bathed in a soft, heavenly, glowing light.

   Have I ever told you how much I love my beautiful, rational, bride?

   This question was a major contribution to my mental health.  I was not thinking right and my mind was not going to get to the library option, certainly not in the hour and ten minutes we still had remaining before libraries closed.

   So we got in car went. This was after of course Jeannette found a library, with the use of her smartphone.

   I approached the desk.

   “We need to use a computer, how much is it? I asked. My hand was on my wallet and I was ready to turn it inside out.

   “Do you have a library card?”

   “No, we’re from out of state,” Jeannette said. 

   “Oh, we can give you a visitor’s card.”

   The librarian then printed a little piece of paper with a temporary user name and password.

   That paper set me free! I did my waivers and calmed down. A little. Christmas was saved.

    “Isn’t it about time you started thinking about getting a laptop?” Jeannette asked later.

   I told her there was still time remaining on my period of righteous anger and we had to let that play out before I could entertain any such practical thoughts.

   Actually though, to answer the question, it’s way past time.

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