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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Weekend at Bernie's, Part I

Of course we did not leave Lubbock by the time I had planned to do so . . . and unfortunately it was part my fault.

I had to spend 2 hours Friday morning at the school printing out directions to the "Sheraton Suites Market Center" and looking for some place nice to eat. I came across Ruth's Cris Steakhouse, which wasn't too far from my hotel, but upon checking the online menu I found a wide array of assorted steaks and (what appeared to be pricy) seafood dishes . . . with no listed prices.

This scared me. It was the same with Morton's of Chicago. I thought about listening to the Sean Hannity show and attempting to develop some witty, insightful commentary which I could relieve upon his audience . . . then beg him for gift certificates to Ruth's Cris. After all, he is constantly pimping that place on his radio program like . . . well . . . like someone paid him.

But I decided otherwise. It would mean I'd have to listen to him and lately I haven't been able to take much of talk radio. Especially Friday. It would have been 3 hours of "who will replace Justice O'Connor?" Frankly, I don't think anyone can. And all the talk doesn't much matter . . . no one that deserves the job will get it. That's politics.

So back to my trip to Dallas . . . .

We finally arrive at the hotel but not without two very, very close calls on HWY 183 that left my heart beating, my chest tight, and my seat wet. Oh, and I can't go on without mentioning the two billboards I saw advertising legal services with the "Coffey Law Firm."

The first one read: "DWI DEFENSE. Who said responsible social drinking should be illegal?"

The second: "Drink. Drive. Go to Jail. Just another government lie."

Topic of Discussion: "Ethical Lawyers." Is there such a thing? If so, do you think anyone from the Coffey Law Firm ever swindled one out of his/her notes/outlines/test answers while in Law School? Please discuss.

Okay, back again to my trip:

Upon checking in I ask the desk clerk about use of the shuttle service to get to the West End for the evening. She tells me just to give her a call and she will get the driver. So we go up to our suite and settle in, get cleaned up and ready to go. At 7:00 I ask for a ride to the West End.

The driver seemed intelligent enough. He was a young black male who I assumed is working to pay his way through college. He explained he loves history and, as we ride over, he was listening to the "Savage Nation" on the radio. (For those unfamiliar with the Savage Nation, it is the radio program of Michael Savage-- whose political ideology makes George W. Bush look like Eugene V. Debs.)

I explained to him that we were going to be seeing an improv comedy show and having dinner. Upon being dropped off, I asked how to get a ride back and he handed me a business card, telling me just to call the number. I handed him a tip, we said our "goodbye"s and that was that.

Allow me, for an instance, to plug ComedySportz DFW. Misty is hot and they are all very funny. It is like "Whose Line Is It Anyways?" . . . only less contrived. Oh, and they serve excellent cherry vodka sours. (Okay, I admit it: I like "girlie" drinks.) Not to mention, they made me "scorekeeper" so I got the privilege of continually running up to the scoreboard to change the score and having the spotlight highlight my big butt wearing jeans with a hole in the seat and showing my blue boxers off to the audience.

That's alright, though. John Paul called me cute. Oh, and I got a coupon for a free admission next time.

So, if you are in Dallas, check them out at the West End Comedy Theatre. They also have a ComedySportz in Houston . . . but for those of you in Houston, you'll have to find them yourself.

After the show we had dinner at Gators-Dallas. The food was good, the drinks were strong, and the piano player had me singing along . . .

Sooooo . . . now comes the exciting part of the evening. I tentatively stand up after paying the bill and, with a little help, leave the restaurant. After getting my land legs again and finding I can focus on the business card I have fished out of my pocket long enough to dial the number, I get the front desk of the SHERATON SUITES MARKET CENTER (in Dallas).

I am put on hold at first, only to be greeted by a less than enthusiastic gentleman who informs me that-- though it is exactly 10:02 when I am placing my call-- the shuttle driver goes off-duty at 10:00 p.m. and I am simply out-of-luck.

Misery: Shouldn't someone have told us when we were dropped off at the freakin' West End for dinner and to attend a comedy show that we could not get a ride home after 10???

Desk Clerk: I don't know, sir.

Misery: You damned well ought to . . .

Desk Clerk: There is nothing I can do now.

Misery: Well, then how are we supposed to get back to the hotel?

Desk Clerk: I don't know . . .

Misery: Wait, isn't it your job to know?

Desk Clerk: I guess you could call a cab.

Misery: You "guess"? And how long did you have to go to school in order to go so far out on a limb and make a statement as bold and as daring as that of you "guessing" we will have to get a cab to bring us back to the hotel??? Hmmm??

(Okay, so I didn't make the last statement. But I wanted to . . . it actually was more like this:)

Misery: You "guess"? Well, I am stuck here in the West End . . . can you call us a cab. We will be standing on the corner by the West End Theatre.

Desk Clerk: I will try. But I can't guarantee you'll get a cab or not.

I told him to "try" his hardest and he hung up. We waited for a few minutes, in which time I was approached by no less than two pandhandlers with stories of broken down and/or empty fuel-tanked cars. And witnessed a lovers quarrel between what it took several minutes to realize was actually a man and a woman (and not two men).

Finally I called the hotel back and spoke to another clerk. I explained the situation and she didn't seem to have a problem getting me a cab. The taxi arrived and we made it safely home about 10:30 or so.

I was not about to pay $11 for a cab ride back to the hotel, so I took the receipt in and up to the front desk. I began by thanking the girl that had helped me by actually calling the cab and then I spoke to some sort of supervisor who apologized, paid me $11 for the cab and comped me two breakfasts for the next morning.

I politely pointed out to this guy that the hotel had opened itself up to a great deal of liability by dropping two guests off at the West End with a promise to return when called then leaving them on a Friday night in downtown Dallas with no way to return.

Come to notice, however, this hotel seems to be asking for a few law suits. Sunday morning someone had spilled a great deal of water in the lobby and, after being alerted to this, a desk clerk attempted to wipe it up with a towel. It was left at that.

Just before I checked out, I was leaving my guest feedback form with attached letter at the front desk when an older lady in high heels walking a small dog slipped and fell at the exact same spot the water had been. She complained of pain in her elbow, knee, and neck. I and the desk clerk helped her to her feet and I so wish I could have encouraged her to see a doctor immediately and then give me a call.

Within minutes, "wet floor" signs had been placed in the lobby.

Sheraton has a "service promise" that something with your stay was not right, let them know and it will be made up to you. I hope they don't think two free breakfasts will fix things.

I wrote the letter, let's see if I hear from them. For now I have several travel websites I need to hit to write "reviews" of the Sheraton Suites Market Center (in Dallas) . . . to inform others of this hotel's propensity towards negligent behavior . . . oh, not to mention the broken ice machine on the 10th floor and the broken phone in 1015.

My trip home was an entirely different adventure that stretched a 6 hour drive over a two-day time span and renewed my belief in the basic goodness of the human heart.

So tune in tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-channel . . . for the exciting conclusion to my weekend.


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