Monday, June 1, 2009
The Rude Traveler
I pulled into Salina, KS late this afternoon excited to finally be back in a city that I remembered so fondly from years ago. I stopped at the first affordable looking hotel I could find, not realizing it was the exact same one I had stayed at years ago until I drove around it later. As I walked into the lobby, I was immediately confronted by a wall of loud, vitriolic attitude.
A mother of three tween-agers, who looked about seventeen herself, was using the desk clerk's phone to scream at some faceless booking agent. She was making quite an embarrassing spectacle of herself, causing an awful scene in an otherwise empty hotel lobby. I felt bad for the two poor attendants behind the counter who tried desperately to appease her while trying not to roll their eyes in disgust.
Apparently, from what I gathered by the woman's blaring public declarations, she had booked a room at the hotel through some faceless agent only to discover upon her arrival that the pool was out of service. This was completely unacceptable to her, a total deal breaker, making her insist that she be comped a room, get a full refund from the agent, etc. Interestingly, her children stood quietly, conveying much more tact and patience than their mother could seem to muster.
Listening to all of this while getting my own room, I couldn't help but joke with the clerks, rolling my eyes and sharing knowing smiles with them. All the while, the woman was insisting on blowing things out of proportion, exaggerating how upset her kids were and how this one incident was ruining their entire vacation. I was reminded of just how many Americans act like this when traveling abroad, which just adds to the list of things that cause us to have a bad reputation in the world. Maybe I'm too easy-going, but Jesus Christ, a lack of a pool is not the end of the world. I'd hate to see how this woman handles a real crisis.
I finally got my key and was about to head up to my room when I turned around quickly in the doorway, making sure the upset woman could see me. Sounding completely sincere, I innocently turned to the clerk and asked loudly, "Is your pool open today? Y'know...never mind." As I walked out I heard the clerks begin to laugh out loud, the tension finally being broken.