A Very Unparked Domain
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Lathered in Nashua

After we lost our air conditioning on Saturday night, I felt like it was reasonable to ask the hotel for some kind of discount.

I wasn’t really sure how to ask or what to ask for. I checked in with our friend Jason, who worked in hotels for years and is the consummate hospitality professional; he gave us some great advice that I’ll be sharing in an upcoming post. (Stay tuned!)

And yet, I’m not an especially greedy or material person, and I felt a bit like a weasel for asking for a discount.

And that’s why the hotel did me a great favour in supplying some serious motivation, at the 11th hour, to ask for a discount after all…

We had had a rough night on Saturday in the heat with no windows, no air conditioning, and no room(s) at the inn(s) as an alternative. We didn’t get much rest Saturday night, we were tired and draggy all day Sunday, and my sleep was disrupted for most of the week. (That’s how I wound up too knackered to do much but watch tv.)

Neil knew that it was going to be hard to haul me out of bed in time to make an 11 am check-out deadline (I’d been waking up well after 11 am since Saturday night), so he requested a late check-out. The hotel staff kindly extended our check-out to 1 pm.

And that’s when the fun began.

Neil began my wake-up sequence around noon. This consists of elevating my feet on a pile of blankets and pillows (the chambermaids must wonder what we’re up to when they make up the rooms), and then squeezing my hands and feet until my blood pressure comes up enough that I can get moving. (I’m the only Pneumatic Wife you can take home to meet your mother!)

Adventure Timeline

  • 12:30 I stumble into the shower.
  • 12:35 I am completely covered in soap and shampoo. (No pics, sorry, but think of all those great baby pictures where the kid has its hair up in a big soapy coxcomb. That was me.)
  • 12:36 The water stops coming out of the shower. Completely.
  • 12:37 Water the colour of coffee starts pouring out of the bathtub spigot.
  • 12:37:01 I yell for Neil: “Wow! Come and check this out! It’s like Amityville in here!”

And the shower never came back.

Of course.

So there I am, covered in soap, shampoo running in my eyes. (And there’s Neil, trying to be helpful and supportive while he rightfully laughs his posterior off at the situation.)

I wrap myself in a towel, venture into the frigidly air-conditioned bedroom (be careful what you wish for!), and drip my way over to the telephone to call the front desk.

Me: Hi! We’re having some trouble with the shower…

Desk Clerk: We can call someone to look at that.

Me: Um, the thing is, I am covered in soap. And shampoo. And I’m really cold.

Desk Clerk: Oh! Um…we’ll get someone there as soon as we can.

Me: Oh yeah: it doesn’t look like we’re making out 1:00 checkout. Unless you want me traipsing across the lobby in nothing but a towel and a lot of soap suds.

We sit.

We wait.

We fiddle with the taps some more. Neil manages to make the sink hiss and spit treacle, but he doesn’t have the camera ready and we don’t manage to get a picture.

We fidget.

By this point, I have goose bumps on my goose bumps, the soap is drying, my eyes are burning. Not being a girl to sit around and wait for the phone to ring, I call the desk.

There’s a knock at the door just as the desk staff answer the phone, and Neil and I have a 50’s sitcom-style split-screen conversation with the desk clerk on the phone and the house keeper at the door, saying almost the very same thing at the very same time:

Me (on phone) / Neil (at door): Hello?

Desk Clerk (on phone) / House Keeper (at door): Turns out that maintenance is doing some major work on the water system in this week. There is no water in your whole wing.

Me / Neil: Wow.

DC / HK: The water won’t be back on for hours.

Me / Neil: . . .

DC / HK: Maintenance didn’t tell the manager, so the manager didn’t know to tell the desk staff. If we had known, we wouldn’t have given you the late check out.

(my bolding added)

Me: I’m cold? And covered in soap?

DC / HK: We can take you a room in another wing to…finish…your shower.

Me (to DC, on phone): Great. Someone’s here. Thank you!

I’m a hypothermic shade of blue by this time. I consider doing a semi-streak in my soggy towel across the hotel. But, it is a small towel. I opt for changing into something less absorbent but more modest to make my trek.

While I am getting changed, I misplace the house keeper, who like Dante’s Virgil is supposed to be my guide. I go to the lobby to find her, she comes to the lobby to find me, we are happily reunited, and off to a random room with a working shower at the opposite end of the hotel we go…leaving a trail of drips in my wake.

I get in and out as fast as I can, and try my best to minimize the mess in the clean room. (I brought a towel from our room there’s no need to make extra work for the housekeeping staff.) Neil’s been busy packing up the room while I had my cross-country shower, so he starts carrying our stuff out to the car while I go to the desk to check out.

Part of Jason’s advice was to ask for a discount well before you check out, while the hotel is most motivated by the prospect of your immediate business. Unfortunately, we were right down to check out, so I blew that part of his advice. On the other hand, let’s just say I had got over my reluctance and was feeling like asking for some sort of consideration with our bill wasn’t over the top any more.

By this point, I’ve run soapy, soggy laps around the hotel, I’ve read the email with Jason’s advice several times over, and I’m fairly psyched up to have a confident, mature, calm conversation making a reasonable request about reducing our hotel bill to a senior member of staff.

And, naturally, the only person on site is a junior desk clerk. The manager has just left for the bank and won’t be back for at least half an hour. The junior clerk can’t do anything about our bill. We’re welcome to wait for the manager.

It’s just like the nursery rhyme:

For want of a nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

If we hadn’t lost the air conditioner, I wouldn’t have been sleeping late. If I wasn’t sleeping late, we wouldn’t have needed the late check out. If we didn’t have the late check-out, I wouldn’t have been caught in the broken shower. If I wasn’t caught in the broken shower, we wouldn’t have missed the manager… And all for the want of a Freidrich Climate Master!

Let me be very clear that we weren’t upset by any of this (although during the soggy periods my sense of humour may have waned a little). The hotel had a great breakfast and friendly staff, and the two problems we encountered were pretty mundane: a simple mechanical problem compounded by unusual circumstances, and a communication breakdown exacerbated by our unlucky timing. But our experiences had both affected the overall quality of our stay in Nashua and had certainly influenced our perception of the hotel.

By this point it was coming up on 2 pm, I hadn’t eaten, and waiting for the manager wasn’t a high priority. We paid the full bill, checked out, and left a request for the manager to call us, with low hopes.

We were pleasantly surprised to actually receive a call later in the afternoon. The senior desk clerk offered us a credit for a free night’s stay, without us having to go into what had happened at all. We gratefully accepted.

Since no offer of remuneration was made when we checked out, my take-away lesson is: it pays to ask!

It looks like we’ll be back in Nashua at some point in the trip to take advantage of our free night stay, ideally with the energy to do more sightseeing, and we will make sure to report back on our next round of adventures there.

Photo Credit: our shampoo model is the photogenic Miss Abbie Broom. Photo used with permission of her cool mom, my highschool classmate Zoë.

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1 Loren { 08.24.08 at 8:13 pm }

Hey Shaula. Sounds like Jason gave some good advice. There’s definitely a way to ask for stuff. :)

2 Shaula { 08.27.08 at 10:35 pm }

You know me, Loren: it’s not like I’d rant and rave at hospitality workers. But I did want to figure out how to ask in a way that increased the chances of a good outcome, too.

I’m having a groggy week, but I’ll get Jason’s advice up soon, and I’d love to hear what you have to add to it, too.

3 Neil { 08.27.08 at 11:06 pm }

Jason is notorious for good advice.

Yeah…notorious is the word.

Notorious and infamous

4 Chas { 08.28.08 at 3:37 pm }

Shauna, it’s nice to hear from you and keep in touch. You have a talent for writing…possibly you’ll be a famous author and soon have more money than you’ll know what to do with (and yes I just ended a sentence with a preposition, but that is why I added this comment in brackets).

I didn’t know that Zoe had a baby…geeze, I’m out of touch! Of course, my family and I moved away from Victoria about 9 years ago, so lots can happen in almost a decade!

Thanks for being a link to keep us all in touch – Gwil doesn’t update his blog nearly as consistently :)

5 Shaula { 08.28.08 at 10:04 pm }

Thanks for keeping up with our adventures, Chas.

And the comparison to Gwil is unfair: I am in awe of his photographs, and since he’s on a solo, world-wide tour, he has more logistics to handle plus way more sensory overload.

But I’m delighted if the site can be a central news resource for everyone.

6 Kate { 09.01.08 at 12:37 pm }

…wow. I thought my bit of excitement was exciting enough, but I was in my own home the whole time…

You’re a very patient woman.

7 Shaula { 09.01.08 at 11:28 pm }

I’m glad you survived your bathtime excitement, Kate.

I was doing a cleanse once with a boyfriend, in a cabin on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere (does this sound like the set-up for a horror story yet?), and got tired of drinking the nasty, bitter liver- and kidney-cleanse teas, so I brewed up a really strong batch and put it in the bath…whereupon my lymph glands all swelled up so badly that I could hardly move my arms, legs, or neck. And I stayed like that for about a week. Very exciting!

I am now somewhat more cautious about what I put in the bath.

8 John Loring { 09.03.08 at 11:12 pm }

I think an addendum to Jason’s advice may be in order here: always ask for some sort of compensation while wearing a skimpy towel and dripping wet? I’m sure that this would work far better for the fair Shaula than it would for me. Or Neil, for that matter.

9 Neil { 09.04.08 at 9:40 am }

My role is to stay out of sight… and make sure nobody slips in suds.

10 Trevy { 12.26.12 at 10:41 am }

Neil, it was thoughtful of you to share with us. What a llvoey way to spend the holiday weekend. I’m really hoping to meet you this new year and thought you should have been one of the two lads that attended the meet and mingles. You are a shining star on stage and ADD so much to the CT tours! You’ll never know how much I enjoy seeing you perform and the enthusiasm (your smiling face looking out at the crowd having fun)!! It keeps me clapping harder than I realize until my wrists are bruised and hurting half way through. *Wishing you all the best for the new year and since I love 80 s music too, keep sharing those songs too please that you do with that band*.

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