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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tangentmakers and the Dreaded Key Card

Okay, so where am I?

As always, my client looked a little cross-eyed after five-and-a-half hours of SEO, PPC and CRM
Who knows what evil lurks inside the plastic hell?
talk. Marketing buzz words layered with endless rationale will do that. Shoot, hearing about website analytics will bore the best of us, but this is what pays bills and clients usually go with your gut feeling as long as you have your act together backed by this boring details. Life can’t always be chatting with movie stars, Miss USA’s and football owners. The routine, perfected after thousands of cycles and repetitions, is what makes guarantees success.

So there I was in another nameless Eurasian five-star hotel after wrapping the meeting ready to curl up with Tropic of Cancer and a vodka martini. This is the recipe for relaxation on the road. Eyes half open, I wander out of the lobby and up to the 29th floor, checking every pocket – that’s ten pockets in all counting the blazer and the slacks – for the hotel key card. Find the card, get to the door and BAM! What happens? That little red light flashes on the brass door handle mocking you that once again she’s not going to open.

Outside of the cancelled or delayed flight, is there any bigger routine killer than the key card that refuses to open the hotel room door?

Ah, the dreaded hotel key card. The nemesis of any traveler.

The master of disaster.

Plastic from hell.

Are you kidding me? It’s not even a key. It’s a hunk of plastic.

I mean really, is there anything worse than your key card inexplicably pulling up a red light? That red light only means one thing: you have to drag yourself back down to the reception desk to get a new one.

Eurasian keys are still keys in every sense...
Now, the Media Guy isn’t violent, but at the end of a long day of meetings or even a long day of exploring ruins in the middle of Timbuktu, the last thing you want is a delay getting back to your room for a hot shower and some room service. It’s at that moment you say to yourself, whoever invented the hotel key card needs to be hunted down and shot. Yes, the hotel key card is the travel’s nightmare.

In this instance, I had a lot of time to reflect on the hotel key card as I embodied Mr. Toad during his Wild Ride attempting to get back to the front desk to get a new card. Wouldn’t it be my luck that the sixteenth floor had a massive water leak that pretty much soaked the whole floor and wiped out three of the four elevators?
...and wildly more reliable.

The stairs were closed so there I waited, zipping through my iPhone, sending out news releases and trying not to overly eavesdrop on the couple ten paces away. It was obvious they were feuding long before my personal crisis started, yet their conversation was enthralling with an equal mix of business and displeasure. This was a whole lot better than Tropic of Cancer and, believe it or not, a whole lot sexier.

The couple was tucked into the corner of the elevator banks next to the faux Tiffany lamp acting like they wanted to be discreet, yet too angry to worry about it. They were something out of Abercrombie &; Fitch. Wildly attractive, young and fit with an edge that only comes with youth.

“F*#% you Steve, ok? F*#% you!” she said. “Why do you constantly pull that s*#%? Honestly, I can’t understand you!”

“What is your deal? Understand me? I never get why you act like this,” Steve replied.

“You’re so f*#%ing dumb Steve seriously. I’m so done with you.”

“Oh we’re done because care about you? You’re I’m just supposed to disregard it all? I was worried about you ok?”

“So you call my f*#%ing boss? You’re acting jealous stupid! What business do you have calling my boss and telling him about my side projects?”

Yep, this looked like Steve and his girlfriend.
“I didn’t call him to tell him about you, we’re in the middle of nowhere and you disappeared.  I called him to see if he knew where you were. I was worried about you baby.”

“Don’t f*#%ing call me baby or honey bear or any of that crap do you understand me? If you call me that crap again I’m going to smack you,” the girl said. “Don’t worry about ‘your baby’…where's my journal with my presentation for tomorrow?”

That’s when the room got silent. Steve was speechless about the journal question. As I stared endlessly at the down arrow in the elevator, I kept thinking that this would definitely get more fascinating before it got less. I opted to shut up and let it all flow. My old boss at the Pool Company used to say once that once the meeting went off on a tangent “to ride the flow” and gather in all of the information they tangentmakers were willing to give out without being prompted. This is where loose lips sink ships so to say. When emotions are out of control, people are apt to say anything. These were wise words and over my career I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge just be absorbing the room. Sponge it all in.

By the time he stammered around searching for an answer that would please her, you could tell panic had set in. Have you ever been really grilled by a boss or significant other and didn’t have an answer? You know, where your face turns clammy pale and the beads of sweat pool your forehead crinkles? Well, that was Steve.

 Steve pulled out his phone and started punching buttons.

“What are you doing Steve? I asked you a question. What are you doing? You’d better not be trying to question my boss anymore. He’s only supposed to know that I am here for the modeling assignment.”

“I just wanted to call the restaurant and see if I left my carrier bag there,” Steve said.

“Are you f*#%ing stupid Steve? You had my journal in there and you left it somewhere?”

And that’s when it happened. She picked up that fake Tiffany lamp and hurled it at his head. It was lying in slow motion I swear. It smacked the wall with a ringing the most perfect crackle of glass a fit of rage ever produces. It was perfect, yet I don’t know how she was managed to miss him. Maybe it was because she was a lefty.

That’s when she stared him down. “I don’t want you to talk Steve! Understand this: you better get out a pen and write down everything I tell you before I forget everything that was in my journal, you f*#%er!”

What followed was dissertation on advertising that would have made a professor blush with the mere fact that when compared to her, most media experts don’t know anything. I even found myself talking mental notes on her brilliant verbal essay. The funny thing is that during her information dump, every twenty words or so she was punctuate her sentences with a “F*#%” or would call poor Steve a “douchebag.” Try as I might, I couldn’t help but snicker every time she said “douche.” There’s something about a guy going all Mike Tyson silent as if Robin Givens is being interviewed by Barbara Walters and her calling him names throughout. 

Anyway, they were so far gone into the zone that I was completely invisible. I could have been dancing naked around them and she still would be forcing to be him to take down every word.

At this point I was praying that the elevator wouldn't come. I was learning too much. And just like that, the cussing ending and they were lip-locked. I mean really going at…Cinemax Style. Just as I wondered how the dreaded key card dropped me into this surrealism, the elevator arrived and Steve immediately looked up and said, “I apologize about my crazy girlfriend.”

The instant he said that, she started screaming at me, “F*#%-you-no-tie-suit-guy! You’re just a f*#%ing douche too.” I laughed and walking into the crowded elevator just as they started kissing again.

We started our gradual descent as they four ladies snickered [in the same manner I did when she was calling Steve a douche] in what was about to be a total retreat from my previous ten minutes. My four passengers / new friends shared stories of their own hotel stories waits and dreaded key cards. In no time the conversation turned to the brilliant media model / psychotic girlfriend's antics.

“Were you trying to be the third person into that mess?” the audacious one in the group finally piped in.

“Don’t let that girl scare you, I’m just a simple Media Guy, I promise.”

“What was her problem?”

I told her that this is what occurs when you mix a little bit drunk, and dash of brilliance and a whole lot of crazy together. Weird Happens!

With that we all shared the bond of strange humor as the elevator reached the lobby and the line for new key cards was thirty deep.

Ah, new friends, power of riding the flow and tangentmakers.