You Have No Idea What I Paid For This Room
Welcome to another installment in a series of posts about an Average Joe trying to just get along…and finding new and funnier ways to fail at it.
For past posts in the series, catch:
There’s Something Wrong With The Car
Networking 101: Meeting Basketball Insiders (a How Not To Manual)
I’m Not an Expert on Everything
I Miss Checkbooks
Sprint Teaches Me Geography
Blog Post of the Week! by Money Beagle (intro section)
Sometime The Grass Isn’t Close to Green On The Other Side Of The Fence
I couldn’t believe a girl this HOT liked me. Cheryl was smart AND beautiful AND (the best part!) dating me.
Realizing that sooner or later she’d wake up and actually look at the guy she’d decided to hang out with, I knew I had to impress her fast. Time for some decisive action…something that would really WOW her. …something she’d remember in the middle of the night when she wondered “What am I doing with this dork?” I needed something to counteract that inevitable occurrence…something spectacular and romantic.
I had it: we’d take a long weekend getaway to Chicago.
Checking a few quick travel guides I stumbled on a bonus: there was a boutique hotel called the Claridge just north of the corner of Rush and Division (home of many bars and nightclubs!). Reviewer after reviewer said this place was a hidden gem, nestled among brownstones in a nice neighborhood.
We were college students. I was paying my own way through school, working three jobs: building radiation walls (crappy work), as a telemarketer (even more crappy work), and as a DJ at frat parties and weddings (awesome work, but with horrible hours). Somehow I scrounged up $250 for two nights at the Claridge (now a boutique Hotel Indigo…here is the website), enough for gas to get from Detroit there and back, and a little more for food and spending money.
Out the driveway in Detroit, the trip was immediately a success. We laughed the whole way to Chicago, listening to music. Holding hands. I thought, “It can’t get any better than this.”
Oh, it did.
A room at Hotel Indigo (The Claridge when we were there)
My hotel choice was freakin’ awesome. The neighborhood was gorgeous, and sure enough, among the quiet brownstones, a little narrow hotel rose into the sky. Although the place was old, it had been recently renovated and had an old city charm. You would never know, with all the greenery and the families strolling outside, that some of the busiest bars in the city were only three blocks away.
We parked the car ($20 a day in 1992. Are you kiddin’ me?). Valets carried our bags and I made my way to the reception desk. Seconds later I had my key and we were on the elevator upstairs.
We opened the door to our room.
There wasn’t a view of the city, but who cared. We had a carefully appointed room with classic prints on the walls, a big beautiful bed and nice little bathroom.
I’m from the country. This farm boy had never seen anything so upscale.
Get this: there were even terrycloth robes in the closet! Terrycloth robes!
I put one on. Cheryl snapped a picture of me in it.
She went into the bathroom to freshen up, and I flipped on the television.
That’s when I noticed it.
There was a fridge in the room.
This wasn’t like a spring break fridge next to the scary kitchenette. Nope. This was a high end hotel.
This was a FULLY STOCKED refrigerator.
Nuts, beers, chips, those little Jack Daniels and Schnapps bottles, and more. I grabbed a beer, some macadamia nuts, and settled into a football game.
I’d worked my way into the peanut M&M’s when Cheryl appeared in the bathroom doorway.
“I think you have to pay for those,” she said.
I smiled at the silly, silly girl.
“You have no idea what I paid for this room.”
She smiled, said, “Really? Cool!” and grabbed a little single serving wine bottle and the Toblerone.
After our on-the-house snack we hit the town hard. A little shopping on Michigan Avenue, Pizza at Gino’s East. Dancing at Mothers on Division.
Imagine our delight to find chocolates on our pillows and the bed was turned down. This place was awesome.
Even more awesome?
Someone had completely restocked everything we’d eaten from the fridge.
Make sure you visit Shedd Aquarium when visiting Chicago
The next day we were up early. After a morning at the Art Institute we had Chicago-style hot dogs off a cart in Grant Park. Then we toured the shark and penguin tanks, among others, at Shedd Aquarium. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a steak place on Rush Street and then listened to some sultry sounds at a jazz bar. We were both tired from the day out and headed back to the hotel.
Fridge? You guessed it. Restocked again.
I loved this hotel.
I immediately grabbed us a nightcap from our now-personal supply. We’d be leaving in the morning and I wanted to get my $125 per night worth. M&Ms, chips and wine up late talking with the hottest girl I’d ever dated.
This was the life.
The next morning we packed early. Cheryl and I both had busy days coming up, so it was an early start, but I was sad to go. We left the room and were halfway to the elevator when I realized: the fridge.
“Where are you going?” she said as I turned and marched back to the room.
“Just meet me in the lobby.” I opened the door, crossed the room and laid my suitcase in front of it.
Why hadn’t I thought of this before? This room was expensive as all get-out. I couldn’t leave these riches to waste. I’d already remembered to swipe the shampoo and conditioner. I’d stayed at a Days Inn before. This was just a Days Inn on a much grander scale, and I needed to take full advantage.
In fairness to me, our minibar didn't have the pressure pads OR warning this one is equipped with.
I opened the fridge door, took my hand and in one motion swiped everything from each shelf into my suitcase. Then I grabbed the drinks from the side holders and carefully placed those among the other treats. At the very least, this would help subsidize the trip and give us some snack food on the drive home.
There was so much, we might not even have to stop for lunch. Bonus!
This was before quick checkout procedures were popular, so I stood in the world’s longest line just to hand over my keys and grab the receipt. By the time I reached the desk, there was still a monster line behind me. Like I had with the people before me, I’m sure they were hoping I’d get out of the way quickly.
The front desk person smiled and said, “How was your stay?”
I handed her the keys. “This hotel is incredible. We had a wonderful time.”
“I’m glad to hear it, sir,” she said as she typed in my information. “Did you enjoy the mini bar?”
What difference is it to you? I thought. But, she was being pleasant, probably passing time while she looked up my record.
“Yes, we enjoyed it very much. It was great.”
She reached below the counter and produced a piece of paper. “We have the record of the first two nights, but if you could just mark anything you had since seven o’clock last night, I’d appreciate it.”
I was shocked.
Those macadamia nuts? $5.25. Each beer? $6.00. The Toblerone? I was in shock and don’t remember exactly, but I think it was around $1,245,435.09.
I glanced at my suitcase full of treats and then back behind me. The line now stretched across the entire little reception area.
“Sir? Is everything okay?”
I glanced up at her, looked down at my bag again and across at Cheryl waiting patiently across the lobby.
There was truly only one thought going through my head:
I’m the world’s biggest dumbass.
I looked back up at her. “Everything is fine. What did you say?”
She appeared confused. “Just mark everything you had since we restocked the bar last evening, and we’ll put it on your card. Is that okay?”
I looked at her, trying to keep the pained look off my face. The keys to the room were still sitting in front of me. All I had to do was grab them and run for the elevator. I’d put it all back.
The guy behind me grunted, a little impolitely, and I glanced over my shoulder again. Cheryl was staring at me from across the room and pushed up her shoulders as if to say, “What’s going on?”
I made my decision. I looked back at the woman.
“I had all of it.”
She leaned forward. “Excuse me sir?”
I tried not to glance at my suitcase.
“I had all of it.”
This woman was a true professional. The corners of her mouth only rose slightly before she said, “Very good, sir. Just sign at the bottom. Should I put it on this American Express card?”
I’d brought the AmEx card only because I needed something for incidentals. I had no intention of using it.
“I hope you enjoyed your stay.”
I tried to smile over my shoulder, not sure how I’d pay this huge amount off my card. “You have no idea.”
Photos: Chicago: Bert Kaufman; Hotel Indigo: Jim Moore; Shedd Aquarium: JohnCarlJohnson; minibar: James Fraleigh
Any good hotel stories to share? Let’s keep the idiocy rolling in the comment section!