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Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 12:54 AM
By Way of Introduction

I went into business in Seattle in 1979, having previously held national sales and marketing positions for a Japanese tape recorder manufacture. I thought I was attending a lot of conferences and trade shows as a national sales manager but I soon learned that being an independent rep required more meetings and conferences than the already ghastly number I had become inured to at Otari. On the plus side there was less air travel with my new job but the trade show schedule was fuller. In the early years, I enjoyed the trade events but it came to be one of the worst features of my gig. It tore weeks out of my life at a time and there was was much time that wasn't productive.

The biggest show on my schedule then was the annual NAB (National Association of Broadcaster) convention held each spring in Las Vegas. It filled the city with media people of all stripes. The keynote speakers were Presidents, as in of the USA, vive presidents, and various prominent people of the moment. I never went to keynote addresses, not that I'd ever been invited, but that was the level of the thing.

Rather, we cogs had sales and marketing meetings scheduled to fill days in darkened rooms with slides, talking heads and later, power point presentations. This would consume three days and then we'd hit the convention floor. It's cheaper for a company to hold meetings at conventions especially if they have an independent rep sales model because then they don't have to buy airplane tickets, or pay for hotels and three squares a day for all the field sales people . They know you have to go to the convention anyway so they just call a breakfast or dinner meeting and save the money that having more elaborate stand alone affairs would cost.

I left San Carlos when Otrari signed me to be their independent rep in the Northwest and I had engineered some other contracts as well. I was proud of my Otari connection. Although I had more lucrative contracts, none meant more to me than the association with the company I had been involved with during its formative years. I'd hired a lot of their staff, was fond of the products and was counting on their contract to be a prestigious part of my portfolio. It was a special relationship. Whenever I went to NAB, I would stay in the same hotel as the Otari people and in1984 that hotel was the Imperial Palace (hereafter, IP).

I showed up a few days in advance of the convention to check in to the IP. I was told at the desk that they didn't have any rooms. This is very bad news in Vegas at any time, but especially so when the biggest convention of the year is in town. Fortunately I had a guaranteed room and had my confirmation number. After a few minutes of embarrassed shuffling by the front desk lady I was given one of the two penthouse suites on the top floor of the hotel. I was impressed when the bellman swung the door of the suite open. It had a jacuzzi ensuite in the master and there was a piano in the salon as well as a full kitchen and a furnished view deck on the roof.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DpxyxlDL7LI/Tj6oLJd2svI/AAAAAAAAAHc/30YHlojxLwA/s1600/imperial2.jpg

The Wind Up
I woke early the next morning to be on time for Otari's meeting. There would be coffee and pastries at the meeting but I thought given my windfall suite, I should for once treat myself to a room service breakfast. I considered the money I wasn't paying for the suite as justification for ordering room service. I ordered breakfast. After eating I showered, and put on a pair of BVDs in prep for donning full business attire when, passing the dining room, I saw the remains of my meal. I picked up the tray and moved to the door to put the tray out for collection. Opening the door, I put the tray on the floor and with my right foot slid it over to the side. However, I didn't have enough reach to get it entirely out of the doorway, so I stepped out a bit further when I heard a click behind me. I turned to see that the door had closed itself and felt the hot flush of despair, realizing I had locked myself out of the suite clad only in jockey shorts.

There was only one other suite on the penthouse floor. I walked to its door and knocked, hoping somebody would peer through the door and I could ask them to call the front desk. No reply. It occurred to me there might be a phone by the elevator. But there wasn't. The floor was abandoned except for me.
I knew the meeting, which I didn't want to miss, was only minutes away and I needed to resolve this awkward situation. I pondered my circumstances and came to the conclusion that my only course of action was to somehow get to the front desk and get some immediate help.

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 12:58 AM
The problem with this otherwise reasonable attempt tp get s key is that I was naked and barefoot save for a thin pair of BVDs.

jack grebe
07-01-2016, 06:16 AM
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Curtism
07-01-2016, 06:21 AM
Why do I get the feeling that this story gets worse before it starts getting better?

PeterSibley
07-01-2016, 06:24 AM
This should be a movie, not your story !

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 09:17 AM
As I had already wandered to the alcove containing the elevators, it seemed an easy step to push the button and deal with this myself at the front desk. I hailed the elevator.

I stepped into the car and pushed lobby. It was early in the morning and I thought maybe I could get this done without too much exposure, as it were. When the elevator door opened and I stepped out into the casino, I realized how very flawed that gossamer hope was. There were old ladies, guys in ostrich leather cowboy boots, skinny people smoking cigarettes and chubby people in tight clothing all around the slots pumping in coins. The only solace was that were all focused on their machines and not a head turned as I walked past them. Not so for early birds shuffling to breakfast or out for the day. These I avoided looking at, averting my eyes and hurrying past on the loooong walk through the casino to the front desk. I maintained dignity and avoided eye contact.

I was numb and without feeling yet steadfastly clinging to the dignity that is every human's birthright. I walked down the corridor avoiding eye contact while maintaining dignity. That was what was in my mind. No eye contact. Dignity. This demeanor came to an abrupt halt when I finally arrived at the front desk. The desk clerk, who was not the same person who had checked me in the day before did not look up when I addressed her. I explained that I had locked myself out of my room and asked her for a room key. Her reply: "Do you have any identification?"

I had no identification.

I was starting to enter shock when she informed me that I must call hotel security. Dignity was no longer an option. I asked her where the house phone was and she pointed me towards it. I rang for security and received this answer: "Thank you for calling Imperial Palace Security. There is nobody here to take your call. Please leave a message. "

C. Ross
07-01-2016, 09:25 AM
Oh dear God...

more please.

Wooden Boat Fittings
07-01-2016, 09:29 AM
Oh my very goodness. :)

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 09:51 AM
What should I do now? Leave a message saying "Please rush to the lobby and help the man in jockey shorts, and only jockey shorts, get a key to his room? Would they recognize me? The receiver slipped out of my hand as I stumbled from the phone. I glanced at the desk clerk but she was looking down at her registers or whatever. I sensed that I would not get a shred of compassion from her. Borrowing dignity from my left arm, I decided to return to the penthouse floor and wait it out in the comfort of the solitude my tower offered me.

I walked back through the casino towards the elevators, avoiding all eye contact . When I got to the elevators, I saw that a uniformed guard was now standing duty asking everyone who wished to ascend for their room keys. I did not have a room key. I had consumed the remaining supply of dignity I had found in my left arm. I started to stammer and fail. I was out of gas.

At that critical moment, the elevator door opened. Out stepped. Hosoda-san, the president of Otari Japan, Soma-san, the president of Otari USA and my former boss, Gonda-san, the VP of Engineering, and Kay, my former assistant-secretary. Salvation was at hand. But at a price.

C. Ross
07-01-2016, 10:39 AM
Bow!!!!

Deeply

Andrew Craig-Bennett
07-01-2016, 11:10 AM
I love this tale.

Ian McColgin
07-01-2016, 11:18 AM
This had better end with you all in the sauna together.

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 11:25 AM
The Japanese stared in stunned silence but Kay did not miss a beat. "Get this man to his room. Now." She accompanied me to the suite along with two recently arrived security guys who were doing a passable imitation of tall Blues Brothers minus the hats. I dressed, gratefully, and hurried to the meeting room. Arriving, I tried to make a discreet entry through the rear door, but the entire posse was laying in wait for me. I entered the room to the silence of perhaps 150 wise guys, all well versed in the manly art of the fast quip. One hundred and fifty pair of eyes gazed in silence for perhaps 15 seconds and broke out as a man into cat calls and gales of laughter.

It was a relief, actually. Of course, re-telling the story became tradition, the tradition became legend and the legend became history. I was chided into retelling the tale for years at every meeting and get together, especially when new guys were present. That was right up until Otari fired the lot of us about 15 years later when their business and product development faltered.

Ian, I never got to take a sauna with Kay, although I wouldn't have minded.

I've also never previously written this tale down. This is a first. I know for a fact it is better as stand up but I need material this month, so now you've got it. I can absolutely prove this is true because there were witnesses.

Feel free to add your own stories of humiliation and redemption here, please!

George Jung
07-01-2016, 11:31 AM
Add our own stories of humiliation and degradation?

You must be in 'sales'

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 11:41 AM
Redemption, not degradation, George. Redemption! As BROTM you must find the good in everything.

C. Ross
07-01-2016, 01:45 PM
Redemption, not degradation, George. Redemption! As BROTM you must find the good in everything.

Best. Bilge Rat. Ever.

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 06:25 PM
You're sweet Cris, but I follow in hallowed footsteps and storied tradition.

Shang
07-01-2016, 06:46 PM
This should be a movie, not your story !

Be glad this wasn't a movie, Lew, because in a movie you would have had to climb out onto the ledge, work your way toe over toe to the floor below--pigeons would have landed on your head while you were doing this.

Paul Pless
07-01-2016, 07:46 PM
Balls!

What a great story.

The Bigfella
07-01-2016, 08:07 PM
Didn't need any BVDs at our Perisher conventions.... and I don't recall any locks on the doors, although there may have been.

Perisher being a ski resort and Gunyah being a ski lodge where our state manager was a bit of a legend. We were on the promise of a lodge weekend... all staff plus some selected invitees from H.O. if we were ahead of budget by May. We made it and it was off to the snow for the weekend before the official ski season opener in June, everyone's, ahem, station wagons loaded with skis, chains, booze and food. Office girls and all.

No BVDs? Well.... there's a sauna, of course.... and a door opening directly onto the snow, among the snow gums. Ski, drink, eat, drink, sauna... and straight out for a roll in the snow. Yep.. no BVDs. Oh, and we had a much better appreciation of the office girls after the weekend too. :D Oh, and I didn't mind it when they discovered that I'd just done a massage course.... nor did the spectators.

(I use the term 'office girls' in its historical, sexist format here. We remember them well and fully appreciate the talents they brought to the business).

The following year, and I'm going back a bit over 35 years here.... the boss said "same deal... on budget by May, we go to the snow.... but just in case we don't, it's $2 a week in the tin from everyone and we go anyhow". It became a bit of a legendary conference, that one... and the Head Office characters were very keen to be invited.

The American parent company was "dry".... so we never did invite any of the infrequent visitors from there along.

BrianW
07-01-2016, 08:45 PM
I've also never previously written this tale down. This is a first. I know for a fact it is better as stand up but I need material this month, so now you've got it. I can absolutely prove this is true because there were witnesses.



I recall hearing this story in person, and it was slightly better watching your expressions. :-)

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 10:13 PM
I recall hearing this story in person, and it was slightly better watching your expressions. :-)

I think I remember telling it to you over one of our dinners.

Lew Barrett
07-01-2016, 10:19 PM
Didn't need any BVDs at our Perisher conventions.... and I don't recall any locks on the doors, although there may have been.

Perisher being a ski resort and Gunyah being a ski lodge where our state manager was a bit of a legend. We were on the promise of a lodge weekend... all staff plus some selected invitees from H.O. if we were ahead of budget by May. We made it and it was off to the snow for the weekend before the official ski season opener in June, everyone's, ahem, station wagons loaded with skis, chains, booze and food. Office girls and all.

No BVDs? Well.... there's a sauna, of course.... and a door opening directly onto the snow, among the snow gums. Ski, drink, eat, drink, sauna... and straight out for a roll in the snow. Yep.. no BVDs. Oh, and we had a much better appreciation of the office girls after the weekend too. :D Oh, and I didn't mind it when they discovered that I'd just done a massage course.... nor did the spectators.

(I use the term 'office girls' in its historical, sexist format here. We remember them well and fully appreciate the talents they brought to the business).

The following year, and I'm going back a bit over 35 years here.... the boss said "same deal... on budget by May, we go to the snow.... but just in case we don't, it's $2 a week in the tin from everyone and we go anyhow". It became a bit of a legendary conference, that one... and the Head Office characters were very keen to be invited.

The American parent company was "dry".... so we never did invite any of the infrequent visitors from there along.

The thing is, there's no problem when everybody, or every body, is in the same relative state of undress. It's a different thing when you're the only person in the room in your skivies.

I had this hot girlfriend, we are at a company party and....but that's another story.

goodbasil
07-01-2016, 11:55 PM
Reading this, reminds me of a certain "The Naked Gun" scene, without the statues.

Vince Brennan
07-02-2016, 12:09 AM
I am SOO glad this does not involve handcuffs, a strange lady and motorcycles.

(If anyone remembers the full recountage of that debacle, PM me?)

(Denkschooberrymunch)

Lew Barrett
07-02-2016, 04:06 AM
I recall hearing this story in person, and it was slightly better watching your expressions. :-)


Could have been at Betty's?
http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff76/LewBarrett/photo-1.jpg