3/15/2007

Unrequited Love at the OMNI Hotel

Darlene is cold.

Okay, she is not exactly cold. In fact, she really isn't cold at all, but she could be.

It's 39 degrees here in Washington and raining- an abrupt switch from the 78 degree balmy spring weather we encountered yesterday. It is probably 30 degrees colder than it was at lunchtime today.

They are calling for the proverbial "wintry mix" tomorrow, with "accumulations of ice and snow less than one inch."

So, Darlene is fairly certain she could be cold.

I am already cold. I sit on the bed across from Darlene's, wrapped in the soft, extra blanket I found in our closet, and shiver at the thought of an unexpected winter storm.

"Well," Darlene says. "Of course you're cold! Look at you! You have little bird bones." She pinches her upper arm, shakes her head and says, "Look at this. I got more meat on me than you do. I probably don't need an extra blanket. You keep it."

We have been out in the rain, traipsing around to the drugstore for Zicam and Airborn because I have a cold and Darlene hates germs. She's not taking any chances when it comes to catching my cold but she wants me to have the blanket.

And because I love her too, I want her to have the blanket.

But Darlene won't let me give it to her. And in addition to this act of selflessness, my sister also wants me to know she has faith in me- more faith apparently than I have in myself.

We have reached an impass of niceness and mutual respect, damn it!

Finally I tell her all we have to do is touch the "Omni Prompt Response Button" and they will send us up an extra blanket. Omni Prompt Response has been like rubbing Aladdin's lamp ever since I arrived. I think this is because we signed up to be "Select" guests. Select guest status is the Omni equivalent of a grocery store VIP card, or an airline frequent flyer program.

The OMNI has given us free wireless, 2 free beverages of our choice delivered to our room every morning, a free paper, nightly turn down service and free terrycloth robes.

In fact, every time I press the Omni Prompt Response button, magic happens.

I tell Darlene this earlier, before we approach Herman, the concierge, to ask about Thai restaurants and hairdressers and to ask for the use of one of their "free" umbrellas.

But it is Darlene who actually does the asking.

"Oh, I'm sorry but they are all gone as of about an hour ago." Herman says this in a delightful, perhaps Jamacian accent and holds out both hands, palm up, and symbolically empties his pockets for us.

He gives us the map to the drugstore and the Thai restaurant. When I say, "Bet you don't have a hairdresser map," Herman beams, circles the name of a salon around the corner from the hotel and then, for added measure circles another name.

"What does that say?" he asks, playfully taunting me.

"Nail Salon?"

He shrugs. "Yes. I think just in case."

I shove both hands deep inside the pockets of my peacoat and we leave, bare-headed, to walk through the rain to buy purple umbrellas and cold preventatives.

But now that we have returned, I can find only the one blanket and as Darlene absolutely will not take it from me, I am forced to rely on the only miracle at my disposal-Omni Prompt Response.

I show Darlene the button (because you all know how I am about phones.) "Go on," I say. "Just punch that button, tell them you'd like another blanket and it will be here before you know it!"

Darlene picks up the phone, rubs the lamp for the genie, and says exactly what I've told her.

I can hear a female voice going on at length. The voice sounds pert and friendly but Darlene is looking definitely disappointed.

"Yes I know there is," she says. "But there are two of us and my sister has it on her bed."

More cheerful talking from the woman on the other end of the phone.

I begin to plot my battle strategy. Does the happy girl not know who we are? We are not just one of the bazillion, new age-ers here for the psychotherapists' conference- we are special Select guests!

Is the OMNI genie really trying to deny my dear sister a measly, extra blanket?!

Darlene says "Really? Well...okay," and hangs up the phone.

"They wouldn't let you have a blanket?" I demand.

Darlene shakes her head and grins.

"No, they ran out!" she tells me.

"Ran out? Ran out of blankets? Now, umbrellas I can understand but they ran out of blankets?"

Darlene nods, her smile broadening. "Yeah. The woman said, 'I'm sorry we ran out of blankets but we love you!"

I have to make her repeat this two times before the reality of it sinks in. The hotel can't honor her request for a blanket, but hey, they love her.

Hey, FTD.com, put that in your pipe and smoke it! You stiffed me on Valentine's Day and never attempted to make it right. At least 1-800-Flowers refunded my money. You guys need to be taking notes here. The Omni's all over you when it comes to customer service!

The Omni ran out of blankets, but you know what, who cares? At least they feel bad about it. At least they're sorry. At least the OMNI loves us!

And because of that, we forgive them.

In fact, we love them right back!

I read this aloud to Darlene, because while I've made her repeat the story three times now, I still can't quite believe it and because I want to be sure I have my facts straight. But as I reach the end of my report, I look up to find her frowning.

"Did you say they love us?" She demands.

I nod. "Yeah."

Darlene shakes her head. "No, it's me," she stresses. "They said they love me and you know, I took it kind of personal!"

Okay. I stand corrected. The OMNI hotel loves my sister, Darlene.

But a flicker of hope still burns deep within my breast. One day, perhaps the OMNI will love me half as much as they love my sister, Darlene.

1 comment:

Billy The Blogging Poet said...

Just remember I still love you and you'll be warm all over. Okay, maybe you won't be warm but you'll still be loved. Now get to new aging and get over that cold.