Wednesday, May 20, 2009

thumbs up, thumbs down

I’ve been trying to sort out a long weekend trip to NYC while L. is here over the summer and the planning has once again raised the question of hotel reviews. The beauty of the internets is the number of travel sites where every Ma and Pa Kettle can add reviews for just about any hotel in the World. The problem, as with any review of any product, is how to apply the appropriate heft to the really good or really bad reviews. In fact, let’s just wonder about the bad reviews. You’d think it would be one pissed-off traveler and really horrific service to push someone towards the “this place is hell and I shall never return” input. Or not. And, that’s the rub. Even though this little nugget of a story doesn’t come from a hotel review I think it’s apropos; at some point on, someone gave a product a zero rating because the Post Office – admitted behavior by the Post Office – lost the package. If this disgruntled person wanted to slag off the USPS then please do; just don’t do it at Amazon when reviewing a new clapper or sonic ear. It’s something I like to call, apples and oranges. A few of the hotels I’m looking at have poor reviews that are well written and useful; unfortunately, most of them run something along these lines;

“I will never stay in this hotel EVER again. We checked in for three nights on August 3rd and it was VERY hot in New York City. We were hoping to enjoy the city but the hotel is four blocks from the subway and walking anywhere in 98° heat and loads of humidity is unbearable. We had no idea the city could be SO hot. We ended up taking cabs everywhere we went and I swear all the drivers must have attended the Al Qaeda Finishing School. I would not recommend this hotel to my worst enemy. AND, the girls in New York City, when it's so hot, don't wear bras.”

I bought my summer sandals today. (I know, I’m changing subjects.) I’m not a huge fan of socks and shoes once it gets to about 70° and the humidity is rising. I managed to buy the exact same style as last summer – a perfect pair of Clarke’s – so everyone will be able to easily recognize me even if you only see my feet. Last year’s pair was eventually destroyed after six months of hard work. I’m contemplating buying a few more pair and simply storing them for my future self; always consider your future self.

Funny story about shoes. When X came to Reno to visit me back in the summer of 2005, we spent three nights at a smashing bed & breakfast up in Truckee, CA . We hiked a few Tahoe trails, ate great Mexican food, walked the small town, and saw a guy pick up a broad at a hen party simply by simply flexing his bicep. Anyway, we stopped in an outdoor shop one afternoon because she wanted to look into some nice Teva sandals and Truckee is nothing if not ready to help with outdoor activity and kit. After about thirty minutes of quality expertise, and as we were having our order rung up (we were the only customers in the shop), the guy helping us suddenly ups and sprints, hell bent for leather, out of the shop while yelling over his shoulder for us to get out; cash drawer open and nothing but cartoon dust and spinning legs. As his words were ringing through the atmosphere we suddenly felt a massive rumbling. As we (sort of) ran out of the shop and into the street behind our savior, we realized that what had caused the commotion was a pretty strong earthquake – certainly the strongest I’ve felt in all my earthquake experience. We asked him if this running from his rickety store/shack was standard procedure. Was there a worry that the building was going to collapse? Was everyone in town supposed to now be standing in the middle of the main street? Because if that’s the case, the whole town was missing the boat and only he was following the emergency checklist. His response to our inquisition was this: he thought a train was going to crush the building, not an earthquake. We turned and gandered at the shop and realized that it is, in fact, right next to the tracks that run through town. Granted, these tracks don’t host freight trains, but most likely passenger trains because the station and its tracks seemed like a spur into town for the purpose of picking up passengers. Regardless, you’ve got to be one shaky character to spend all day working in a store and pondering the fear of getting flattened by a locomotive. He told us it sounded to him exactly as he’d imagined a locomotive gone bad – a beast sounding just like he’d dreamt. Death. Once he realized it was just a strong quake he laughed it off and headed back inside. I bought my shoes, a pair of socks, and left the store wondering whether to fear trains or earthquakes. Ponder.

I'm done with olden stories.

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