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August 29, 2004
Several Unfunny Things Happened To Me On The Way To The Forum

NEW YORK CITY, 10:56 PM ET: I have finally eaten dinner on what had to have been one of the longest and most frustrating travel days in my life. The fact that I'm blogging is in itself a minor miracle.

Earlier today, while I was airport blogging about the vacuity of Dan Rather, I received a very kind and generous e-mail from two CQ readers (husband & wife) who wanted to make a large donation for the trip but had been stymied by the Amazon system. They wanted to pay for part of my hotel room instead, so I told them where I was staying. Fortunately I was on line when I got a reply. They had called the hotel and found out that they'd canceled my reservation -- and the airport had just announced preboarding for my flight.

I got on my cell phone and called the Hotel Pennsylvania's reservation desk to find out what the hell happened. They informed me that since I had not shown up for Saturday night, my reservation had been cancelled. I informed them that I had called Saturday morning and confirmed my reservation, starting Sunday night August 29th through Friday morning. After a long and tense conversation, the manager finally stepped in and reinstated my reservation just as I boarded the plane.

The flight was mostly uneventful, and we landed at JFK in Queens at about 6:15 ET. I had dinner plans with several other bloggers at a Brazilian restaurant in Manhattan for 8, and I knew I'd be pushing it no matter what. I made my only mistake at this point and called a SuperShuttle rather than a cab or a limo, which would have taken me right to the hotel. Instead, I got bundled in with several other travelers coming into Manhattan, including a nice Minnesota college graduate who is moving to the East Village to work in the apparel business. It took until 8:30 for the driver to drop me off, and thanks to the street closings around Madison Square Garden and the Hotel Pennsylvania, he dropped me off two blocks from the hotel.

Tonight is warm and just a bit muggy but not bad walking weather, so I cheerfully set out to walk the last bit. Several police officers cheerfully stopped me and asked for my ID and proof of my hotel reservation, and since I didn't print out my e-mail (who knew?), they would not let me pass. I called the hotel on my cell phone and asked them to send someone down to rescue me. The two young NYPD officers were complete gentlemen, keeping me company with small talk and pointing out some of the landmarks from 33rd and 6th. After a half-hour, I started to think that help was not on its way, and called the hotel again. They told me that the PD wouldn't let them come down that way to get me, but the other end of the hotel was open to street traffic and that I could walk down to 34th and come in on 7th.

So off I trudged.

After finally arriving at the hotel, I made a beeline for the desk, thinking I could still make it for drinks if I hurried. When I try to check in, of course, no one could find my reservation. The manager had to come out and get it straight, which took no griping from me, and I went up to my room, exhausted. The first thing I wanted to do was to access my e-mail so I could find out where the group was planning to go for drinks ... and that's when I'd discovered that my room had no Internet access.

Bear in mind that the entire point of my being here is to blog the convention, and you'll get an idea of the desperation I felt at this point.

I call the desk, who connects me to someone else, and the conversation goes like this:

Me: I don't have an RJ-45 connector in my room.
Helpful and Concerned Hotel Employee: Uh-huh.
Me: How do I get Internet access?
HCHE: You can use dial-up.
Me: No I can't, I don't have a dial-up account. I'm staying here because you have high-speed Internet access.
HCHE: We only have DSL on two floors, sir.
Me: Then move me to another floor.
HCHE: We don't have any more rooms available, sir. You can use the WebTV system in your room if you want to access the Internet.
Me: I need to use my laptop.
HCHE: The WebTV is the only high-speed Internet access you can get from your room.
Me: How much is that to use? [The high-speed access is $10/day.]
HCHE: Five dollars.
Me: A day?
HCHE: For thirty minutes.
Me: Let me speak to your manager.

After repeating much the same conversation with the manager, I finally blew up and said, "The Republican National Committee invited me here to report on the convention, which requires me to have Internet access. I suspect that they reserved me a room with it, which I probably had until you guys cancelled my reservation on me."

They moved me to another room, and a nicer one at that, and so I'm blogging now. However, I will be hitting the sack in a few minutes so I can get up early for the bloggers' breakfast tomorrow -- otherwise I won't get my credential, and I'll spend my week being the chew toy for Gunther The Killer Canine Officer instead of bringing you the best of the RNC.

I should have a better day tomorrow, because Lord knows, it'll be hard to top this one.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 29, 2004 9:55 PM

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Tracked on August 30, 2004 8:47 AM

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