For part 1 of Beth Wechsler's 'Rants from the Road' series, click here.

Call me spoiled. I like to take a shower in the morning. This is particularly appealing to me when (1) I need to wash my hair and, (2) I am going to be spending 7 hours attached to a microphone and standing at a podium. Like parking and drinkable water, I like to think that a morning shower comes included in the hotel's room rate - or rack rate, whatever that is.

Pardon me while I digress. What exactly is a "rack rate"? Is it the original, no discount room rate that a hypothetical person would pay if they didn't have any, and I do mean any, special discounts? Is the rack rate what you would pay if you didn't have a discount for being old (AARP), driving (AAA), being a member in any national association, including but not limited to the hotel's own programs - Choice Privileges, Priority Club, something that I think is called Starwood Preferred? I want to know what a "rack rate" is - whether the root of the word comes from the Latin, "racket" or from the Portuguese "to put on a rack." And I have another question - (one that relates to a childhood trauma when I attempted to use my NYC bus pass on the subway with grave consequences) - Can you get into trouble for trying to use your Choice Privileges rewards card at anywhere other than a Comfort, Quality, Sleep, Clarion or MainStay Inn?

I do acknowledge that my advanced baby boomer age makes these details more challenging to handle than it is for say my sons. After spending far too many nights in hotels, I recently committed an unbelievable faux pas. I confused a RedBox DVD with a Netflex DVD. Instead of dropping the RedBox DVD back in the machine at the supermarket, I dropped it in the mailbox. This was probably because I still hadn't gotten to take my morning shower, a topic to which I now will finally return.

The wakeup call came at 6AM and I swung right into action and started the shower. Good news: this hotel had heat lights in the bathroom. Bad news: the drain was clogged. Preferring (picky, picky) not to shower standing in an every deepening puddle, I called the desk. It turns out that at hotels problems of this sort now require the assistance of "Engineering," as in, "Someone from Engineering will come right up."

As promised, a nice man from "Engineering" arrived momentarily, assessed the situation (hair), and amidst apologies for the inconvenience, cleaned the drain. I thanked him, he left. I turned on the shower again. Ice cold water allowed me to be the first person to notify the desk of what would turn out to be a hotel-wide, two-hour hot water problem.

I'm a mother. I can cope.

At the Quality Inn in Amherst, there was no shower curtain. A nice man came and installed one. I don't know whether he was from "Engineering" but I am getting tired of having all these men in my bathroom.

I took a shower and called the desk. The hotel was 90% unoccupied and the checkout time was 11AM.

"Would it be possible for me to get a noon checkout?"

"Are you Choice Privileges?"


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