The fact that I’ve not left the hotel I’m in for 36 hours is not something I knew would happen when I came to St. Louis a week ago on business. I came up here knowing I would be in town this long, but never thought I’d be hanging out in a hotel day & night. It has happened before but the severity of this storm makes you think differently than when waiting out your average storm. And there are things that you notice.
- Storm sounds are ENTIRELY DIFFERENT — I may not really feel comfortable with all the sounds my neighborhood makes in a storm, but most are familiar in some sense. Not so of a very different place. Approach: Listen to familiar music or maybe watch a movie.
- Local people staying at the hotel — This is something I found amazing. It seems a lot of people from St. Louis checked into hotels. Here at the hotel I’m in I’ve seen a number of employees from the office building next door as well as older people who left their homes on wooded lots to try and keep electricity. Due to proximity to a hospital, we also had a few people here as family were under care nearby. Approach: Keep smiling & share a little of your story if you like. In fact, I met a lady who seemed to immediately connect. She mentioned her sister already was seeing the storm in Oklahoma & I asked about what part of the state. Next thing you knew, we realized her sister and brother-in-law had gone to the same university I had. Small world.
- Walls can close in on you — Its crazy to suggest but I really believe that hotel room walls seem to be set like some horror film. It seems the room is bigger when you are only in it to sleep, shower and rest before or after those things. Approach: Walk around the hotel a bit, go watch TV in a lounge or something. Me? I love to take a few photos so a slide show is below!
- Keep your cool and remember everyone can be stressed — The reality that plans have to be changed for you and everyone else you come in contact with most likely. The hotel staff working around the clock are not going home, someone may be trying to get home for a funeral or illness, or the food available may not be a kid’s favorite, etc. Approach: While you don’t have to get in the middle of people’s issues, offering clear thanks or a sympathetic ear can be helpful. If relying on someone’s services who seems to be on track, be sure you tip them well & say thanks.
- You ponder electricity outages very differently — At home, the assumption is you bundle up or walk to a neighbors until you can drive somewhere. In a hotel, you aren’t sure what backups there are or the frequency of the problem of an outage. Approach: Ask a few simple questions at the front desk & consider whether you are best in your room or a common area understanding conditions may require you to do something you’d rather not.
- Communications preparedness — Electricity going out also can cut wireless internet and storms can take out mobile phones. Understanding that, keep family and friends reasonably up-to-date on how things are going. Approach: I used my mobile to post a bit to Facebook and to make a call or two. I tried to keep things charged.
- Have some food & drink available — When you are traveling by air, you may depend primarily on restaurants, etc. What do you do if that falls through? With simple food delivery or staffing issues, it can quickly seem like there is nowhere to turn. That’s something to ponder as a farmer friend recently blogged about. Approach: I’ve been LUCKY. The hotel has maintained their breakfast, snack & happy hour services, etc. and the restaurant downstairs has been open too. But my friend Michele also made sure I bought a few basics to the hotel with me.
Those are some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind throughout the day as I’ve been stranded in St. Louis thanks to storm watch. What sort of things do you consider when stuck while traveling?
(PS – I call this SnotoriousBIG but you don’t have to call me Big Poppa. And if you are interested in the hoodie, I have another blog post about it.)