Room Service, Y/N: A Friday Chat

Ester: Hello to you in Alaska! … What are you doing in Alaska again?

Nicole: I’m visiting some friends. This was a trip we had planned a couple of months ago, and now here I am!

Except I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I was scheduled to fly into Juneau at around 2 p.m. yesterday, and we got diverted to Sitka because of weather. I was supposed to return to the Sitka airport at 4:45 a.m. today to take another flight out, but… I’m still here.

Ester: You reminded me today that Sitka sounds familiar because I read about a fictionalized version of it in a Chabon novel. How is it on the ground there IRL? Are there private investigators stomping around? Are people speaking Yiddish?

Nicole: I did get to taste the famous pie! It was good pie, but I am not sure I would say it was the best pie I’d ever eaten. Maybe I picked the wrong type of pie. I had the option to choose Reese’s but I picked blackberry/strawberry/rhubarb.

And no, there aren’t any private investigators that I’ve seen. Of course, they’re supposed to be private, right?

Ester: Well, yes, but not, like, invisible. They seem to do a lot of skulking, if media is any indication. And a lot of drinking. Come to think of it, they may well be nocturnal. Anyway, I’m sorry you haven’t made it to Juneau yet! Are your friends there already waiting for you, or are you all together making the best of things in Sitka?

Nicole: My friends live in Juneau, so we have not met up yet. They did introduce me, via text and phone, to a bunch of cool people they know in Sitka, including the group that’s founding Outer Coast College — which is where I slept last night. I don’t know if you read the piece in The Toast, but Outer Coast is going to be a self-sufficiency college, where the students fish their own salmon and so on.

Ester: Whoa! Pretty cool. So has the change of plans cost you very much? Have you been able to stay more or less on budget?

Nicole: Actually, I think so. We planned ahead to get a super-cheap flight, and although I ended up buying myself dinner (and pie) in Sitka last night, I probably would have helped pay for whatever dinner we ate in Juneau. Since I got free lodging and a free 4:30 a.m. ride to the airport, I have incurred no extraordinary expenses.

Ester: Nice. I am collecting receipts because I get reimbursed for this trip from the conference I was speaking at, and that’s a fun situation to be in. I haven’t done anything crazy like order room service, though; I brought cereal, cheese sticks, and an apple with me from NYC and that’s helped to supplement what I’ve had to buy. I don’t know I feel the need to be frugal on someone else’s dime but it’s a deeply embedded instinct.

Nicole: Ha, I am the opposite. I don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu just because I can, but if I am getting reimbursed I do order room service. On one trip I even ate the Toblerone out of the minibar. That novelty wore off fast, though, so now I pretty much leave minibars alone. But room service vs. cheese sticks, I’d always pick the hot meal!

Ester: OMG I need to embrace my inner Nicole! Well, I have one more hour left before check out, and I’ve been in the room working all morning. Maybe I’ll do it??

Nicole: You totally should! Room service isn’t necessarily more expensive than going down and getting breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Both experiences will cost about $22 with fees and tips, right? Please tell me you at least go into the hotel restaurant when you get your meals reimbursed. I am envisioning you walking across the street to a gas station or something.

Ester: Um, yeah, that is more or less what I did. I left the hotel yesterday, found the first cheap coffee shop place, and got some tea and a raisin bread thingy for breakfast.

Nicole: Ha ha ha ha this is where I need your nudge to negotiate better rates, and then in return I will say “Ester, the hot breakfast will cost you $15, max, more than your raisin bread and coffee. They do not mind if you spend an extra $15. They don’t even notice.”

Ester: You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right. OK, I’m opening up the room service menu right now. Let’s see. … hahahahahh OH NO I’ve fallen in the donut hole! Breakfast ends at 11:00 and lunch doesn’t start til 11:30. It is, right now, 11:08.

Nicole: You can make it! They just announced that they’re going to try boarding my plane, so I hope that in 20 minutes I am airborne to Juneau and you are placing a breakfast order.

Ester: Sounds great. Good luck and godspeed. Oh, and remember to negotiate better rates!