It Hardly Matters

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Reporting Live from Flahrida

I'm now the proud owner of a Mickey Mouse umbrella. It’s raining in Florida, and I hate my life.

Where shall I begin? The 5:30 AM confirmation call from the car service? The driver not knowing how to get to LaGuardia from Williamsburg? The woman next to me on the plane elbowing me for 3 hours as she played touch-screen video games and ignored her son? Charming. Speaking of charms, she sported a lovely bangle on her right wrist featuring the character Spike from the popular, yet now cancelled, television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Allrighty then!

After a significant amount of turbulence (50 kids, screaming) and a ride on the “Magic Express” bus (packed with families of four wearing matching T-shirts), I finally arrive at the Walt Disney Boardwalk Inn, where I am to stay for 4 days for a conference.

There are no smoking rooms left. But Hermie, my magical check-in agent, says I can smoke on the balcony because it's “near” the smoking rooms. Ok...? As I unlock the door of the soon-to-be-smoking room 2335, the phone is ringing. Hermie! She asks how I like the room. “Well, it’s all right, but I would prefer a smoking room.” “Ok!” she replies, extremely cheerfully. “I’m calling because the AMEX card that was on file was declined.” I guess my upgrade to a king bed smoking palace wasn’t going to happen.

The corporate card for the hotel room and additional charges (of which I plan to make many) did not go through and at this very minute I have no idea if I’m paying for the room out-of-pocket—a concept that is quite hilarious given that I have $288 in my bank account and I think that’s less than the nightly rate at the Boardwalk. The excitement never ends!

I do have a room key/”Magic Pass” that lets me eat, drink, and buy stuff on the room. However, the Exhibit Hall is in another hotel that doesn’t take the card. Of course not! Speaking of the two-hotel dynamic, they are in fact a 30-minute walk from each other, which might be nice if one was on one’s honeymoon and not lugging a laptop in the rain whilst wearing work shoes that a girl that works on Seventh Avenue in New York City wears.

Exhibit Hall setup is supposed to start at 12:30; I get there at 2:15 and they are not even checking people in yet. Blond high school boys whose summer job it is to lug and assemble portable kiosks scurry by, carrying metal boxes that will soon house a conference administrator that will check my name off of a ridiculously long alphabetized list of presenters. I leave the hall and forage for lunch.

My treat to myself is that I’m having a Sam Adams before I set up the booth. Tonight’s after-booth plans? Room service, Internet browsing ($9.95 for 24 hours of access), cable TV, and God-willing, a bottle of hooch. I wonder what kind of liquor selection they have at the Screen Door General Store. According to the Boardwalk Bugle, it offers “a selection of grocery items, snack items, sodas, beer, wine…” EUREKA! I will drink whatever expensive swill they have in that joint. I just hope Mickey isn’t on the bottle.

Note: There is no free WiFi – anywhere in Disney. Oh, and I think the pool is closed for maintenance.

More to come!


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