We went up to northern Wisconsin this past weekend to go to a high school graduation party for the daughter of some friends of ours. It’s a strange thing to realize that this is the stage of life we’re in these days. We’ve been going to a lot of these events this month, though most of them are much closer to home.
It was a lovely little gathering – we got there late, but they held the baked potato bar open for us and we spent the evening hanging out and catching up. Lauren got her hair highlighted in the kitchen. Eventually the girls spent the night there while Kim and I retreated to our hotel. We are long past the age of sleeping on air mattresses on the floor.
The next day we decided to cut our stay short and drive home in order to stop at a 25th Anniversary party for one of Kim’s colleagues that was on the way. So the question became whether we could get our money back for the second night of our planned stay.
And therein hangs a tale.
The online service we used said they’d go for it as long as the hotel approved. This required them to speak to the manager. This, in turn, proved impossible.
The manager was nowhere to be found. The clerk behind the counter said she had no idea when the manager was planning to be in, where he was, or how to contact him. This raised all sorts of interesting red flags about this particular hotel, to be honest.
We checked out anyway.
After a couple of missed phone calls this week, I finally managed to track down the manager on Wednesday.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Don.
By the time I got hold of him (two phone calls in ten minutes, the first mysteriously cut off before he answered) it was clear that he knew all about my request. And it was clear that he had no intention of granting it.
Now, as I see it, at this point Don had two options.
Option A was to be a grown-up professional about things and simply say, “I’m sorry, but our policy requires a 24-hour notice for cancellations,” and leave it at that. While disappointing, this would have been a reasonable response and one that would have left us simply chalking the whole thing up to experience.
Option B was to launch into an immediate 30-minute tirade as soon as he answered the phone, without even giving me a chance to speak, about how this was a waste of his precious time – time that was far more valuable than mine, a point he made no less than four times and which, given the length of his tirade, I can only assume was evidence of either a highly developed sense of irony or a complete inability to understand his own words.
This option also included things such as:
- talking over me while I tried to explain and being both smug and aggressive about his right not to hear me out.
- referring to anyone who used online booking services as both stupid and greedy
- telling long irrelevant stories meant to showcase his divine wisdom
- repeating himself verbatim in a louder voice when asked to clarify his position and then demanding to know why it wasn’t clearer this time
And on and on. Option B certainly offered a wealth of opportunity for someone in the service sector to demonstrate why this would be a poor career choice for them.
Guess which option Don chose.
Given the cost of meals out that we saved by coming home a day early the whole thing was pretty much a wash, financially, so I’m not too worried about that. But there will be no future stays at that inn for us, or indeed at that chain of inns ever again.
On the plus side, we did see a full-arc rainbow on the drive home on Sunday. It lasted for nearly half an hour and gave the whole trip a nice little ending.