November 8th, 2014: room 214 at The Hilton in Port Chester, New York.
I was awakened by a loud hammering sound that, like a dog howling in the night, found likeminded hammers who soon joined in and created a collective wail of hammering hammers. Soon the metallic whacking was drowned out by a chorus of belt sanders and similar electric industrial noise-making devices.
I stuck my head out the door wearing little more than a frown and attempted to pry my sleep-deprived eyes open. When I did I found that the entire wing that adjoined the hallway next to my room was under construction, with dozens of doozers busily rebuilding countless rooms stretching into the horizon. I got dressed in my nicest clothes (I even put on my sport-coat) and marched down to the front desk.
Imagine angry Fred Flintstone trombone music following me to the lobby.
I expressed my difficulty to the ladies standing there and was fully prepared to be civil until they denied that the area near my room was under construction at all. “That work is being done on a completely different floor, sir.” I almost lost it, but finding my composure I gritted my teeth and spat through my darkest grimace, “I’d like to speak to the manager please.”
I was told I’d have to wait so I did, with malice bleeding from my eye sockets in their general direction.
As I waited I remembered a study I had recently read. A guy stood in the street and asked random people if they would help carry his groceries up to his apartment, with a low rate of success. Later, he stood there and asked people if they would please tie up his untied shoes. When people invariably refused this bizarre plea he then asked if they would help carry the groceries upstairs, and this time almost everyone agreed to this second, much more reasonable request.
The implication of the study was that if you ask people for something you know they can’t/won’t do, they are then much more likely to say yes to your next request.
When the manager came I (remember, dressed in my nice pants and shirt, shoes and jacket and looking not a bit like the music-loving neo-hippie I am) explained the problem and asked if he would please ask the construction crew to cease their work until the much more reasonable hour of 11am.
“I’m sorry,” the manager stammered, “I simply can’t do that.”
“Well then, might I ask that you change my room immediately and reverse the charges for last night’s stay?”
“Of course sir,” he swiftly replied. “I’ll send a bellhop right away, and please accept my apologies. Of course there will be no charge for the room last night.”
As he went to fetch a bellhop I smiled at the ladies that were working the desk and apologized for my earlier grumpiness. “I haven’t had my morning coffee yet,” I explained. They obviously were a bit apologetic themselves as they handed me four breakfast vouchers to cover me and m’lady for our two-night stay.
My trip to the desk saved us about $250 plus another $100 in breakfasts – the buffet was priced at $25. I should get riled awake at hotels for a living.
Down at the Capitol Theatre that evening the Phil Lesh show was much the same as the previous night’s show. That is, Phil’s unmatchable bass playing and Eric Krasno’s stellar guitar work was almost overshadowed by the lame-ness of Chris Robinson and his Brotherhood brothers. His keyboard player is the worst piano jammer ever, unless he knows the tunes I guess, because Hard To Handle was an actual highlight to the show. So was the set-ending In The Midnight Hour, but really I don’t get the Black Crowes thing at all, and nothing Chris Robinson has done since ending his tenure with the Black Crowes has changed my mind.
Really, I think he’s only associated with the jamband scene because he’s a big Grateful Dead fan.
So I guess I’m only half-joking when I say the best thing that happened to me all day was getting woken up by jackhammers at 7am, but only because the great, great Phil Lesh philled my ears with his vast, endless talent for three hours in one of my favourite theatres in America.
Otherwise the main take-away for me was to steadfastly avoid Chris Robinson and his creepily identical Brotherhoods in the future.
Also, the breakfast buffet at the Hilton in Port Chester is really quite good. Definitely take advantage of the omelet station; Raoul does great work.