3/20/08

Wuss Camping

For the past two weeks I've been living in a hotel room. I'm here in Raleigh, North Carolina on assignment, and it's been great to get to work with all my new cohorts in person before I go back to Columbia to work from home.*

I'm even getting the hang of hotel living, sort of. It's like camping for wusses: you're away from home, without your own bed, or refrigerator, or even little things you didn't realize you'd be without, like silverware. Now, yes, you do have *a* bed, and electricity, and running water and climate control and all that, but there are still occasional improvisations needed for a reasonable simulation of regular life, and you get to feel clever every time you figure something out -- like, for instance, how to actually make a PBJ out of the PB and J (and bread) you just bought.**

And just like camping, when you stay in a hotel room for five days you tend to get, you know, totally moved in -- encamped, you might say, with all your clothes in their corresponding drawers and reading materials strewn across the sofa -- and when the cleaning staff comes in while you're gone to change the sheets and restock the napkins, it kind of freaks you out. ("What? Someone has been here! And they stole my... my half-empty bottle of hotel shampoo! I was going to finish that!)***

You find the little side entrances and exits to the building, determine the best parking spaces that facilitate the shortest walks and the most sunlight coming in through the windshield each morning.****

You learn not to freak out so much when the staff passes by your room on their way to the elevator, with that freaky squelchy beeping tone coming from their walkie talkies.*****

You find a strange, muted sense of community welling up in you as you walk down the hallway at 7:30 am en route to the ice maker and hear the sounds of all your neighbors going through their morning routines... the shower turning on in 307, the hair dryer running in 320, somebody around the corner poking outside their door to get today's crappy issue of USA Today.******

And, occasionally, you even find yourself laughing at yourself for your ridiculous contrivances. This morning, my last morning here, I decided to have the leftover apple pie from last night's dinner. But with no microwave, I had to resort to setting the container on top of the single-serving coffeemaker as it brewed my morning cup.


Really looking forward to being home again tonight, with my wife, and my pets, and my bed... and my microwave.


* Now I'll at least be able to put a face with each name -- when I first walked in, I noticed three young, white, stylishly dressed graphic designers. Without these intervening work days, I doubt I'd ever have been able to keep straight which one was Brandon, which was Shane, and which was Chad.

** Shrewd realization: It's probably not a good idea to use the room key card to spread the peanut butter. For starters, it's awkward; for another thing, it's messy; and for another thing, eww. I ended up getting a plastic knife from the front desk.

*** For the record, I did put the Do Not Disturb card on my door, but I think after a couple of days they just can't help themselves, and decide to Disturb anyway.

**** Only rookies and greenhorns actually go through the Lobby.

***** I still jumped just now, but only a little.

****** Though it does necessitate daily refills of ice, a mini-cooler is the key to hotel camping. It's easy to carry, and the perfect size for storing a couple of drinks, some jelly, and a small container of milk for morning cereal.

******* It didn't really work.

5 comments:

coloredsock said...

great post! made me laugh out loud. 'sorta' reminds me of india guesthouse living (the wuss camping with bucket showers and mosquito nets) except that i specifically remember upon re-entering the US we stayed in a hotel and, WOAH, i felt like i was a millionaire living the high life! still, i can relate. in india, most guest houses will bring fresh, hot masala chai to your room first thing in the am!

congrats on the job! you and p will have the best time workin' from home together...doesn't get much better...

ps i think one-cup coffee makers (although slow) probably don't send so many microwaveS thru your food...which might be a good thing?

Just Plain Jane said...

Happy homecoming. My father, who traveled in his position of aviation engineer with Texas Oil Company actually preferred hotel living to being at home. I can't imagine him making pb & J in his room, though and I loved the image of using the hotel key as a spreader. And the fact that you wrote about it.

-T- said...

I relate. Every time I go away for six months, I readjust to hotel-living. Here's one for you: wheeling the entire grocery cart all the way to your room. (never had a car)

JustMe said...

Your "rookies and greenhorns" got a laugh-out-loud! Makes me appreciate the comforts of home, instead of just looking at all the chores waiting for me and thinking, "Boy, I'd like to go stay in a hotel room where the living's easy."

Anonymous said...

You know what else one cup coffee makers are good for. washing panty hose. apparently it's a well known process to employ the basket as a means to *filter* hot water through said garment. talk about a clever way to overcome not having a washing machine. When travelling abroad i suggest starbucks.

RF