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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Das Boot ("A journey to the edge of the mind")

Sometimes, life presents us with stories that are wrapped up inside stories. Those stories would not have happened outside the context of the "meta narrative." Sort of like a big box of chocolates. You just never know what you're going to get.

This morning, boys and girls, I want to tell you all about the 'mini-drama' that happened in the midst of some serious Diocesan Convention drama.

I had worn my black boots to Convention because I knew we'd be walking from the Robert Treat Hotel (where the business portion of Convention was conducted) to Trinity and St. Phillip's Cathedral, Newark, for the opening Eucharist.

It was C.O.L.D. and they kept my feet warm. I was glad I wore them. My heart and soul were even more deeply warmed that we had such a wonderful witness on the streets of Newark.

When we got back to the hotel, however, it didn't take long for my feet to get hot. So, I took my boots off and put my shoes on. I knew we'd be coming back to the same table for dinner after the hearings, so I slid my boots under the table. I thought I'd take them home with me at the end of the evening.

Except, when I got back to the table for dinner (which was TWO HOURS LATE), my boots were gone. I checked with the folks at Convention Arrangements and they assured me that I could get them in the morning at "Lost And Found".

Saturday morning began with the Women's Commission Brunch at 6:45 AM followed by Eucharist at 8:30. I began checking Lost and Found around 10:30 - without any luck.

It was only after it was announced that lunch would be an hour late (indeed, that some of our Diocesan staff were "downstairs" helping to make sandwiches!!!), that I started to fear I'd never see my boots again.

The Secretary of Convention, who has been organizing our conventions for at least 20 years, got so frustrated that he actually announced, "I've learned something this week end. I've learned that 'incompetence' is spelled R-O-B-E-R-T T-R-E-A-T."

By 3 PM, I decided to go directly to the management office at Robert Treat. A very well dressed and neatly coiffured woman behind the desk starting dialing Housekeeping as she listened to me tell my story to the Manager.

"Good news!" she called over from her desk. "We found your black boots."

"Wonderful!" I said, "where can I pick them up?"

She looked over at me, smiled, looked me in the eye and actually said these words: "She said she gave them to a man with a collar."

My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe my ears. I looked at her. She was still smiling happily, like she had solved the mystery and done A Very Good Thing.

I gulped and said, "Um. . . a man with a collar? Did you get a name?"

Our Little Ms. Chirpy Clueless, looking a little confused and befuddled by my reaction, said into the phone, "Did you get a name?"

When the voice on the other end of the phone responded, it finally sank in. She looked at me and said sheepishly, "Um . . Father?"

I am not making this up.

See comment above about how to spell 'incompetence'.

Well, all's well that ends well.

I got an email yesterday afternoon. My black boots had been found. Thanks be to God!

I mean, it's not like they were brand new. In fact, I think they were old enough to vote. I remember getting them on sale for like $15 or $20. That's not the point. There were lots of memories in those boots. We had walked many miles together over some pretty rough times. And, they were Very Comfortable.

Good thing they were found. I had gotten the name of the Director of Best Western Hotels (which "owns" or manages the RTH) and was planning to write a scathing letter about the Really Bad service we had gotten.

Instead, I wrote this post because I just had to tell someone. As I've said so many times before, writing is a way for me to stay sane. Some might argue that it doesn't have much efficacy. You should see me when I don't write.

Sometimes, life is more interesting than I'm ready for. People, on the other hand, never fail to be fascinating.

No wonder God created us. Our entertainment value alone makes us priceless.

Problem is, we are not God and we are often not amused by each other.

Which is why, I think, God created chocolate.

More on this great theological insight later. I'll say this much: Forrest Gump was right. Life is like a box of chocolates. Some times you get a sweet cherry. Sometimes you get a nut. And sometimes, you get a gooey, sticky mess.

Good thing I love chocolate.

Right now, I've got to find another pair of boots to wear in this morning's snow. I'll be so glad to get my old pair back this afternoon.


Erika Baker said...

Oh please tell us how Father with the collar managed to reunite you with your boots?

whiteycat said...

Sounds as if it might be time for the diocese to give the RT Hotel the "boot."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

@ Erika: No clue. They appeared as magically as they disappeared.

@ Whiteycat: Good call!

Bex said...

"Sometimes you get a sweet cherry. Sometimes you get a nut. And sometimes you get a gooey, sticky mess." I just hate it when it's door number 3.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bex - tee hee. I don't know if the first two doors are much better.

Jim said...

I hear your convention is moving. Sounds to me like you would do as well with some large heated tents!

I have not been to our last couple. The vestry does not approve of me. But the Marriott service I recall was a lot better than you were getting!


RFSJ said...

Elizabeth, pardon me if this is a topic hijack, but I *don't* think we should move. We are committed to Newark, ro should be - as +Mark said, it's the See (sp) City. And as I tell parishioners, when one walks away, there is no way to build relationship at that point. Seems to me the better approach would be to express very clearly our problems with the RTH and say, "We're coming back, so you can get it right." Otherwise, we're saying that relationship isn't possible. I don't think we want to be saying that.


Allie said...

For the sort of service you were getting, couldn't you stay in Newark and rent out a high school gymnasiam or a room at RU or NJIT? Stay in Newark, save money, help locals?

At least the service would be what you pay for.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

RFSJ - I really, really, really want us to stay in Newark. I think the track record of RTH, over 20 years, is one of consistent incompetency. I would never advise that we go back there, and I think there isn't enough Valium in the world to get Michael through another experience such as he had. To reward the bad service at RTH is, well, sorry RFSJ - just dumb. That's not walking away from a relationship. That's not giving your business to someone who obviously isn't equipped to handle that many people all at the same time. That would be like asking someone with a serious physical deformity to climb Mt. Everest.

I'm with staying in Newark but changing venue. The Marriott is right at Penn Station. I don't know if it's cost prohibitive but that's one option. Otherwise, we go with NJIT gymn or RU and cater in the food.

We do what we can to stay in Newark - but not at RTH.

MarkBrunson said...

Wow. Just . . . wow.

I work in a hotel, a small hotel with a small event center and I can tell you, even in our little backwater in SOWEGA that would be considered absolute, inexcusable incompetence. I would understand if there were one or even two people who were clueless, but for the whole process to be that absolutely flawed is ridiculous.

Downstairs making sandwiches?! My GM comes in to do things like that if we don't have enough help. During the holidays, I, the Night Auditor, have stayed behind to help the GM set up the breakfast room! We would've called the owner before we would've let it get to the point guests were willing to DIY!

That is a bad hotel, Elizabeth. I doubt that you guys will consider going back, but, if you do, don't! I'd be clamoring to get a substantial refund, as well.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, Mark, I can't imagine going back to the RTH but let's see what happens in the next few months. The Bishop and the Mayor have a pretty good relationship. Maybe something can happen to change the current management which can make our return there possible.

Right now, I hope we return next year to Newark but anyplace other than RTH/Best Western.