Friday, March 21, 2014

In Case of Emergency Break Glasses

You know it was a good trip when the number of days of blog material I milk from it is higher than the number of actual trip days. We're nearing the end, though, so I go back to the beginning.

The start to our stay in Washington was rocky. I had booked and pre-paid the hotel room weeks in advance, marveling as I did at the rate that can be charged and that apparently I am willing to pay to be able to stay in the same facility the seminar is being held. But when you figure in the cost of taxis and the convenience of being within an elevator ride of your own bed (and bathroom), I swallowed hard and entered my credit card number. Imagine my surprise, then, when we arrived at 11:30 p.m. to find no room in the inn.

The management could not have been nicer (Mike at Renaissance Dupont Circle--you rock!) and hied us off to the hotel's sister establishment, paying for our taxi and comping the room. So, yay! A free night in an expensive hotel! And it took less than an hour to straighten it all out.

All that is prelude to explain why I was just a bit groggy when I heard the atmospheric uproar at 7 a.m. EST (6 a.m. body time) the next morning. K was in the shower and noise began to creep into my dream state. It sounded like...a foghorn? Someone yelling? Was I on a boat? Were we about to crash into the rocks?

Finally I swam upward through the jet lag and realized an alarm was sounding in the hallway. Ah-oooga! Ah-ooga! And a lovely gentleman's voice was soothingly telling me "An emergency has been detected. Please evacuate the hotel using the stairway. Do not use the elevators. An emergency has been detected. Please evacuate the hotel using the stairway. Do not use the elevators." Then the foghorn repeated, and the announcement, and the foghorn, and the announcement, repeat repeat repeat.

Have I mentioned that we were on the eighth floor? We were on the eighth floor. But we were also in Washington, D.C., where incidents that could actually involve the eighth floor are more common than they are in Small Town, Kansas, because in Small Town no building in town goes above four stories. This was not a simple matter of stepping outside the room and dashing back in when the all-clear is sounded.

"K! We need to get out!" I shouted through the bathroom door. But if this was an actual emergency, there would be news cameras, and YouTube postings, and no way was I going down eight flights of stairs and into the street in my nightgown so I threw on clothes.

Then I grabbed my glasses from the side table and realized what the emergency was: I HAD GONE BLIND. The world was blurry, as if I were breathing some kind of insidious gas that had attacked my optic nerve and was working its way to the left side of the brain, the crucial segment that's responsible for rational thought . Oh, no! How will I be able to read, or knit, or work if I'm blind? I'll be a burden to Husband and the Boys. I'll never see Paris. At least I would be dressed when they found me in the courtyard, having groped my way down the stairs....

And that's when I realized that the alarms were no longer sounding, and that I had picked up and put on K's glasses (shown on the left in today's photo) instead of my own (shown on the right).

I looked out the window to where the hotel's more compliant clients were huddled in the courtyard, saluted their bravery, and went back to bed.The left side of my brain needed just a little more sleep.

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