The Upgrade

D. E. Larsen, DVM

“You need to hurry, your flight is boarding now,” the airline attendant said as he took our bags. “If your bags don’t make your flight, they will be on the next flight. You have a full plane, there is a Ducks game in Berkley Saturday.”

We hurried down the concourse to the plane. Just what I wanted, to ride to San Francisco with a planeload of Duck fans.

We squeezed down the aisle and found our seats. Now we could relax for a few minutes before the plane takes off. This was going to be our first long weekend off for nearly 2 years. A continuing education trip on paper, but a mini-vacation if we could make it such.

“I think we would have been better off to take the extra time and drive to Portland,” Sandy said. “Then we could have got a direct flight to Reno. I hate changing planes, and especially in San Francisco.”

“It won’t be too bad, we should have plenty of time,” I said.

About then, we were rudely made aware that our flight was going to be anything but pleasant. Sitting behind us, and on top of our seats at times, was a most unruly four-year-old and his mother, who had no concept of discipline.

We are making the final approach to landing on the runway that extends out into the bay. 

“I hate landing at this airport,” I say. “The first time I flew on a commercial airline was when I joined the Army. They loaded us on a plane in Portland and flew us to San Francisco. I had a window seat, and when we were landing, all I saw under the plane was water. We were getting closer and closer to the water. I was lifting my feet before the ground, and a runway came into my view. I repeat that episode in my mind every time I land there.”

We deplane and rush down the concourse looking for the gate for the flight to Reno. We ask an agent at the end of the hall. 

“That is a separate terminal. You catch a shuttle bus down those stairs,” the agent says, pointing to a stairwell at the end of the concourse. 

We hurry down the stairs and catch a bus to the detached terminal. Then we load into a puddle jumper, not my idea of a fun flight. I am white-knuckled all the way to Reno. We arrive, and Sandy’s bag makes the flight, my bag is nowhere in sight. We leave our information and hail a cab to the hotel.

“We have your reservation right here,” the hotel clerk says to Sandy. “It is a nice room, I hope you enjoy your stay.”

Sandy looks over the paperwork while I twiddle my thumbs.

“Is this a non-smoking room?” Sandy asks.

“No, Ma’am,” The clerk responds. “This is a smoking room.”

“We requested a non-smoking room on our reservation,” Sandy says.

The clerk looks at his computer screen closely. “I see that you are correct, it says a non-smoking room right here,” the clerk says. “We don’t have a non-smoking room available in this room class.”

It looks like another planeload of people has arrived, there is quite a line behind us now.

“I have to have a non-smoking room,” Sandy says.

“Let me go talk with my supervisor,” the clerk says as he leaves his station.

The people behind us let out an audible moan. Sandy is unwavering.

Finally, after close to 5 minutes, the clerk returns. He is all smiles.

“I have an upgraded room for you,” he says, winking at me. “You guys are really going to enjoy this room! It is one of our best suites.”

The Bellhop leads us away. The room is high in the hotel, on the 35th floor.

“You are going to really enjoy this room,” he said as he pushed open the door.

He set the bags down and went to the drapes and pulled them open. The entire wall is floor to ceiling windows, and the view of the city is incredible. I feel a little embarrassed as I hand him a $5.00 tip.

“Can you believe this room,” I said to Sandy. “And all because you would not accept a smoking room.”

The main room of the suite is three times the size of any hotel room we have ever seen. The bathroom is enormous. It has a large shower with two showerheads. There is a large jacuzzi tub, massive mirror with double sinks and a separate water closet.

“This sort of reminds me of Ma and Pa Kettle,” I said.” We are just a couple of old country bumpkins in a high-class hotel.”

Sandy laughs as she investigates the kitchenette/bar area. There is a large sectional, a loveseat and a couple of chairs. And then the bed takes up the far end of the room. 

The bed is more substantial than a king-size bed and round, on a raised platform.  There is a 30 inch high wrought iron railing around half of the platform. And a massive round mirror is on the ceiling above the bed. 

“I am not sure how this is going to work out for us,” I said. 

I’m a stomach sleeper, and I hang my feet over the end of the bed. Or I sleep on my side, in touch with the edge of the bed. I am not sure I am going to be able to find either in this bed.

“I think we are maybe past the mirror stage in our relationship,” Sandy said. “This could be an interesting evening.”

We were just ready to leave to get a bite to eat when there was a knock at the door. It was the Bellhop with my bag from the airport.

“They delivered your bag, but it looks like it has been broken into, you might want to check it carefully and make sure you file a report with the airline,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said. “Before you go, can you tell me something about this room? What does a night in this room usually cost?”

“This is our special suite,” he said. “We generally use it to comp the high rollers. We don’t rent it out very often, but when we do, it goes for $1200 a night.”

“I would guess you generally get more than $5.00 tips up here,” I said.

“I have got some tremendous tips in this room, but it is not a big deal, $5.00 is a pretty standard tip in most rooms.”

“I would have to have a whole lot of expendable cash before I could bring myself to pay $1200 for a room,” I say as I hand him a $20 bill.

It was sort of like adding the final insult to the plane trip. The bag was a mess, but the only thing missing is my sports coat. This gives me an excellent excuse for dressing casually. That fits my style just fine.

When the evening was over, and we are ready to go to sleep, Sandy spends a lot of time closing the drapes. It is no small task. I can not convince her that there is nobody who can peek into a room on the 35th floor, especially if the lights are out. But she does not listen.

The bed is comfortable, but, like many hotel beds, the sheets and blankets are excessive. I go around and untuck all the sheets on my side of the bed. Then I discard the comforter and half the blankets. I crawl into bed.

I am instantly miserable. I can’t find the edge of the bed, and when I reach a point where I can hang my feet over the end of the bed, my nose is at Sandy’s knees. I toss and turn and get tangled up in the top sheet. I get up and pull the top sheet off the bed. Since Sandy was sleeping soundly, I open the drapes and enjoy the view until I drift off to a fitful sleep. 

About 3:00 in the morning, I get up to go to the bathroom. I roll out of bed and start in the direction of the bathroom. I follow the edge of the bed until I reach the point where the round was turning toward Sandy’s side of the bed. I strike out toward the bathroom. 

I forgot about the railing. Just as my left foot takes a step down, the end of the railing hits me in the groin. My right leg impacts the railing, I lose my balance and fall, left side first, the two steps to the floor.

I roll onto my back. I feel like I have just been struck with a Klingon pain stick. I look around, the view out the windows is just as good from the floor. Then I look up, there I am, in full view, in the mirror. 

Morning comes, Sandy is well-rested. I look like I have been wrestling steers all night. We shower together and get dressed so we can get breakfast before classes started.

As we leave the room, Sandy stops and looks at the bed. What a mess, there are piles of sheets on each side of the bed. The blankets are knotted in a heap in the middle of the bed. Even the bottom sheet is untucked, and only half covered the mattress.

“The housekeeping girls are going to tell stories about what went on in that bed last night,” she said.

Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

5 thoughts on “The Upgrade

  1. Hahaha! This had me laughing out loud! Exactly why I don’t like to travel….crammed in a plane (totally unnatural, if we were meant to fly God would have given us wings!) missing or damaged luggage, screw ups in reservations, uncomfortable beds……but I totally enjoyed this story…..


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