Monday, March 10, 2008

St. Louis hates me

Here's a list of what went wrong:
  1. No food--not even peanuts on the flight.
  2. No open restaurants near the hotel.
  3. Chain restaurant meal.
  4. No drugstores/groceries in walking distance of the hotel.
  5. Lost credit card.
  6. Broken hotel key card.
  7. Rude/indifferent customer service.
What went right:
  1. Timing of journey to BWI.
  2. Actual flight.
  3. Trip from STL airport to hotel.
  4. HBO in room.
  5. Replacement credit card will get to me by Wednesday.
What went right shall not be discussed in detail.

Here are the details:
  1. I don't expect to get fed any more, especially if it's only a two-hour flight. But I would expect that a two-hour flight smack dab in the middle of the day would provide a snack. Now, if end up on a tiny regional jet, like yesterday, I lower my expectations to peanuts, pretzels or other tiny, salty snack. Silly me. On this flight, you could get a free soft drink and that was it. If you wanted your tiny salty snack, you had to pay for it. Oy.

    The flight went well, even though it was a windy day. It did take longer than usual due to a headwind. Fine--headwinds actually make the flight smoother (I think), so I was fine. Not air sick or scared. I was going to try the flight sans-Dramamine, but as soon as we boarded, I popped a pill, which led to napping. Good.

    Landing was easy. Finding the metro was easy. Trip to the hotel was simple.

    After I got settled, I went for a walk. As soon as I started moving, I realized I was starving. Small breakfast plus no lunch will do that. Thank goodness I'd grabbed a coffee in the airport.

  2. I walked and walked, in the general direction of Leclede's Landing. I passed through the court district, directly adjacent to my hotel. I saw the federal building, the St. Louis police academy, the civil courts, the town hall. But no shops, no restaurants and no people. Not too remarkable on a Sunday, but still.

    I kept going and caught glimpses of the new baseball stadium and the arch. The arch is very pretty. Stadium looks nice from the outside--all red brick and Camden Yards-esque.

    Still, no people. Some restaurants, all closed, many posting hours like, "M-F, 9am-1:30pm". Yikes. No shops.

    I need to buy something from a drugstore. In my totally disorganized packing rush, I left out a few vital toiletries of the type easily attainable at any local or major chain drugstore or grocery store. None can be found in downtown. I'm not looking for a grocery, of course, but no drugstores at all? Really? No. Sigh.

  3. I might have walked a mile, though it felt like more, and I found an "Irish pub" in a hotel. I went in and realized that it was just like Fado in DC. Ok, fine. As chains go, it's not bad, though hardly authentic. I had a beer and a burger and felt better.

  4. I asked both the server and the hotel clerk for a drugstore and got referred to the closed nearby convenience store or a Walgreen's five miles away. Nice.

    I walked down to Leclede's landing. Populated only by restaurants! I've never paid such close attention to retail mix in my life.

    I noticed a light rail station (Metrolink) nearby and decided to go back to the hotel. I was tired from flying and my minimal walk. Instead of going straight back to the hotel, I went one extra stop and exited at Union Station--a beautiful former train station. No drugstores either! But a very overpriced hotel-affiliated "convenience" store where I got a small amount of the necessary items. When I said something to the clerk about the lack of drugstores, she again mentioned the Walgreens. When I said I didn't have a car, she smirked. Nice.

  5. On my way out, I realized that I did not have my credit card. I'd left it at the Irish pub. Whoops. I kept the receipt, so I called them. They searched but could not find my card. They asked, "Are you sure you don't have it?"

    I was sure. And pissed.

    I bought some chocolate. The clerk was very friendly as I inappropriately regaled her with my tail of (minor) woes. She gave me directions to the Walgreens via bus.

  6. I walked the few blocks back to the hotel. You have to use a key card to access the elevator. Mine wasn't working. A hotel employee noticed my efforts and jumped in the elevator with me, "Don't force it!"

    "I'm not forcing it." (I wasn't.)

    He took me to get the card reset. The desk clerk said, "Did you have this next to a credit card?"

    "No. It was in my pocket."

Geez. What is wrong with this town? Everything was my fault! Except, none of it was.

The first employee rode up in the elevator with me and I complained about the lack of drugstores. He said, "Do you need a prescription? We can help you with that and get it delivered."

I said, "No, I don't need drugs. I need personal items. It's ok. I'll go tomorrow."

Back in the room, I collapsed. Completely exhausted from all the non-events of the day.

The phone rang, "Jamy?" (He used the diminutive form of my real name. Odd.)


"We can take you to Walgreen's to get your prescription."

I said, "I don't need a prescription. I have to buy something."

He said, "Oh. Well, um, maybe we can get you a ride anyway. I'll call you back."

"Ok." I hung up and hoped he wouldn't call back. He didn't and I was glad.

Then, I turned on HBO and watched the series finale of The Wire and slept poorly.

However, today has been much better. Not too much can go wrong when you spend the entire day in a windowless hotel ballroom. Let's just hope I can stay on St. Louis's good side from here on out.

Grateful for: HBO.

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