Another cool part of my job is getting to travel once in a while for the express purpose of gaining knowledge from people who make a lot more money than me for knowing a lot more than I do. This happened again last week when I went to Chicago for the 2008 Corporate Communicator's Conference.
Because of the fact that we had to move out of our house imminently, my wife broke rank and decided to stay home and pack. While I had hoped we might use my business trip as a getaway of sorts, one of us had to stick around and be useful, and everyone knows she's the more useful of the two of us.
After slogging through monumentally annoying road construction on the Edens, I finally arrived at my destination: the historic Drake Hotel on Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile. At the tail end of my check-in experience and immediately before I realized that I had forgotten both of my suits in the car that was now being shuttled off somewhere by a valet, the kindly desk clerk handed me my room key and told me where I could find the elevators.
As I got into one of the six elevators (pay attention, this is relevant) on my way to the sixth floor, I looked down at my room key and gasped. Now, imagine what room I ended up in, From-Out-of-Town-and-All-Alone Conference Guy?
Yep. The Room of the Beast:
Upon entering, I was not at all surprised that I began imagining who might have been lured in, bludgeoned to death, violated, hacked asunder, set ablaze and thrown from the adjacent fire escape over the course of the hotel's many years as a playground for the rich, famous, illustrious and conference-going.
After depositing my baggage and calling the valet to fetch my suits, I sat down on the toilet to do things that people on toilets do. I looked down into the polished sheen of the shale-black marble floor and saw a full reflection of my own face and everything in the room above me staring back at me. For a second, I imagined that the head I saw reflected in the floor, which I knew to be my own, actually sported a pair of horns. What if that floor in that room of that storied hotel were actually the one and only portal to Hell? And there I was staring right into it with all the nonchalance of a tourist?
I started thinking that if something went down, if I saw any glint of red or contrail of smoke, I would call Father Jim, our campus priest and a wise Philly native who has likely seen his share of evil incarnate. I have his cell phone number in part because I've always pictured myself needing it in some dire moment. I think staring at the devil in a hotel bathroom floor would count.
To be continued...
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