I’ve been traveling a lot for work, which often means a bad night’s sleep.
For complicated reasons involving hotel no-vacancies, my only room option last week was on the other side of the machinery at the top of the elevator shaft. If you can imagine the sound of enormous carts rolling across bumpy pavement every ten to twenty seconds, you’ll have an idea of what it sounded like.
But it was either than or hump over to another hotel at at 11 p.m., so I took the room. I even fell asleep at a decent hour.
Then I woke up. It was about 3:30 a.m. The elevators were pretty quiet, but a green light was flashing from overhead every five seconds or so.
And I was hot. I tried to adjust the thermostat, but every single knob was missing. Luckily, I guess, it was preset for a decent temperature. I flipped back the fancy down comforter, which would have kept Nanook warm in the north, and went with a complicated thermal solution that involved wearing a long sleeve t-shirt under the sheet.
And then the elevators started to rumble again. I lay in bed for a while, then remembered I had a solution for the sound:
Those things that look like bullets are actually foam ear plugs. I’d forgotten I had them, but necessity is apparently a great spur for your memory. I put the ear plugs in, and there was much rejoicing. You can buy them at any drugstore. They pencil out to about 10 cents apiece. Trust me: a pair of those in your suitcase is money well spent.
But there was still a flashing green light above my head, and I needed a fix for it. A piece of tape would have been perfect, but I didn’t have tape (I am not, you know MacGuyver). I took a look at the light sources, which was a smoke alarm of some sort.
After some casting about for suitable material, I realized the cardboard key sleeve that the hotel provides could be shimmed into the alarm on either side of the light, creating a barrier. Even better, the sleeve was printed in a dark color on one side, letting less light through.
I was proud of that hack … and it was probably for the best I didn’t see the mold around the smoke alarm (yeesh!) until I downloaded my photo a few days later.
So I managed to outwit the elevator, the balky air conditioner, and the green light — yet I still lost out on sleep, because I had to do major surgery on the hotel room in the middle of the night.
If you can help it, don’t travel for business.