Arriving at my hotel in Bowling Green, Kentucky after 1:00am, I couldn't wait to get some rest. I'd been in six cities in the last three days, was running on way too little sleep, and had a 6:30am meeting the next day. So imagine my surprise when I entered the small, boutique hotel and found the front desk deserted. I rang the small metal bell a dozen times for assistance, but to no avail. Spotting a sign with a phone number for service, I frantically dialed only to hear a cell phone ringing on the other side of the desk. That's right my only hope of service had left his mobile phone at the desk and taken off.
We all find ourselves in seemingly impossible situations, both personally and professionally. What matters most is how we respond. Do we curl up in a ball and play victim, or do we leap into action, deploying all our energy to conquering the challenge? Do we crumble or become resourceful?
After walking around the entire lobby, into the restaurant, and wandering into the hotel office, there was not a soul in sight. After an awkward few moments, I went behind the reception desk to scout for some clues. Digging around, I found a folder labeled "inbound", and inside I found another folder with my name. This was not meant for guests, so the markings were sparse. It had a room name (not number) and a key. And so the caper began.
The room was named "Berkshire", so I had to think how to find it. Playing a hunch, I guessed that it could be on the second floor since "B" is the 2nd letter of the alphabet. Sure enough, all the rooms on the second floor began with that letter, and I eventually found my room. Imagine my disappointment when the key didn't work. After several frustrating attempts, I noticed the door also had a numeric entry pad. I didn't know the code, so I had to hack it. I tried the Bowling Green area code and zip code, the current month and year, and a number of other options. Then it occurred to me that there could be a master code. I typed in the hotel's street address, and boom access granted.
Entering the room, I felt the chill. 58 degrees. Naturally, the thermostat didn't work. It took about eight minutes messing around with it, trying a series of buttons and levers to finally rig the device to fire up.
Needing to iron my wrinkled suit the next morning, I was horrified to see the bottom of the iron was covered with a rusty film. Again, time to get resourceful. Realizing that heat and steam may help crack the code, I fired up the iron to the max and was able to scrape off the gunk with a wet towel and a small random cleaning pad I found in a drawer. Of course the shower was freezing cold, but I wasn't deterred. I quickly discovered the faucet was installed incorrectly, with both directions yielding ice water. Yet after some experimentation, I found that by setting the lever right in the middle, it yielded a nice hot shower.
After several more odd missteps and scrappy fixes, I made it to my meeting on time. Rested and clean, in a well-pressed suit.
We all face adversity. But when the unexpected strikes, double down on gritty problem solving. It's amazing how resourceful we can be when we put ourselves to the test.
Ironically, the hotel called me a full 14 hours later (after my dozen unanswered calls and voice messages) to see why I never checked in. No apology, no make-good, no compassion. As I hung up the phone, I just smiled and felt grateful for the adventure. The Great Hotel Caper ended with a chuckle, and a powerful lesson in resourcefulness, grit, and problem solving.