I was listening to a radio discussion last week and their theory about how good looking people have it easier. They argued that they receive more jobs, get higher pay, and weasel their way out of more traffic tickets. (I wouldn’t know.) I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I also think that Pretty comes with consequences.
The thought hit me recently while I was watching Undercover Boss. The premise of this show is that a company big shot goes undercover at his own business to see how well things are really going. He poses as an entry level employee to work side by side with his own staff – all the while the staff is thinking they are being filmed for a documentary. The Top Dog wants to know, are policies running efficiently? Do we employ punks or quality people? Is morale good or bad? (Thus ruling out carnivals completely.) The most recent episode was about a hotel chain. While staying at one of his own establishments, The Boss grew disappointed that he was not provided with free coffee but was instead expected to pay for it at the front desk. (What a ripoff!) (I know how he feels. I’ve paid money, like REAL American dollars, to eat at Casa Bonita.)
What I realized while watching is that I think hotels are kind of like people – many will base their expectations on appearance. For example, I understand that when I go to a Motel 6 I want to keep the black light packed away. Kind of like Sean Penn – we say we want to know what he’s thinking, but deep down we know better.
At the Best Western, I assume sheets will be clean but I also expect a continental breakfast and at least one, working elevator. I might come down in the morning and be delighted to learn that there are hot Belgian waffles – it didn’t say that on the website, and this is a very pleasant surprise. In other words, the Best Western is the mildly cute, band guy in your Algebra class. You expect that he’s relatively clean and at least somewhat musically inclined, but it’s not until he rattles off the Pythagorean theorem and makes a funny joke under his breath that you think, “Hey, this guy is SOMETHING!”
Every once in a while I’ve stayed at a Marriott. First of all, the Marriott has been around forever, and I know when I stay there that my pillows will be softer and I’ll have more of them. The thread count on the sheets will be in the higher 100’s, and someone will probably open my door for me as I’m hauling in my bags. The doorman will even offer to carry them for me, but I can’t think of anything lazier than having to tip a guy for taking my suitcase, WHICH IS ON WHEELS, down the hallway while I follow lamely behind. Still, I’m kinda flattered that he asked. I like to think of the Marriott as my own little personal Sean Connery. Sure, he’s a little older but you know he’s got class. You also know his threads are awesome, and that his accent is just enough of a draw to keep you coming back time and time again.
Then there was the time when Cory and I decided to spring for a night at the Broadmoor for an anniversary. Boasted as one of the nicest hotels in Colorado, I had high expectations. I wanted a mint on my pillow, roses on my vanity, and a white terry cloth robe hand delivered to me after my bath. With my name embroidered on it. The way people talked about this place I half expected a herd of Clydesdales to meet us in the parking lot with a chariot, and have George Clooney open our door, pop the cork on a bottle of Martinelli’s and settle us into tufted, red velvet seats for the ride to our room. I guess when you grow up going to motels where “There’s a soda machine!!!” is the highest accolades one can give, your perception of reality is compromised.
I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that our visit was substandard, but I will say that the Broadmoor, for me, did not live up to the hype. Our room was okay (small), the food was fine (a steak is a steak is a steak), and the spa, however lovely I’m sure it was, was too expensive for us to utilize. The Broadmoor, therefore, becomes my analogy for the most popular girl at school. Too pretty for anyone to know what to do with, and not all it’s cracked up to be. On the outside the grounds are perfectly manicured, but at the end of the day you’re just sleeping in a bed like everyone else.
The problem is we EXPECT so much from the Broadmoor. Everyone runs around, talking about how great it is – so much so that the hotel has to try that much harder to keep up. Eventually, the Broadmoor is going to forget to bring you a towel and the popular girl is going to get a zit. We have to allow for that, or else we will constantly be disappointed.
As for me? I’m a Holiday Inn. I never book up a year in advance, the laundry is never really done, and while I’m relatively tidy you may find a long, blond hair on the counter and frequently run out of shampoo. There are no topiary mazes here but I try to pull weeds before they look like trees and clean my fake plants once every three years, whether they need it or not. Oatmeal is available for breakfast upon request, and cold cereal comes with only one choice of milk. Orange juice is extra, but I have a 24-hour self service ice machine. How do you like me now? But the best part about being a "Holiday Inn" is that if I'm late turning down your covers no one bats an eye lash. Also? WE DON'T TURN DOWN COVERS HERE.
It’s not the Broadmoor, and it’s never going to get me out of a ticket, but if you stick around long enough you’ll see that I eventually put up Christmas lights and dish up a really nice cup of hot chocolate. Suck up to me on a really good day and you never know, you might even get a mint on your pillow.