I’m currently on a work-related trip in a suburb of Houston, Texas. I’m here with a co-worker, so I’m not totally alone, but we have separate hotel rooms, so I’m somewhat alone. Anyway. She and I arrived here earlier this afternoon so we had some time to scope out the area. Since we didn’t rent a car, all of that scoping has been done on foot, in 90-plus-degree temps with what feels like a crapload of humidity. Since crapload isn’t really a specific amount, I’ll just say it’s really uncomfortable to walk around in. But walk around we did!
We found – I think – the location for our training, which is approximately five miles from our hotel. The building is in the middle of this beautiful metropolitan area that has a river/stream/creek that runs all through it. The buildings are modern-looking and recently built. It’s just a very relaxing and fun area to be in. I would imagine living in a condo or apartment in that area would be very expensive but very worth it. It’s a place that I think you could feel safe walking around nearly any time of day or night.
I don’t feel that sentiment is quite as true with our hotel. I don’t think our hotel is in a bad area, per se, I just don’t feel as good here as I did in the business area. It’s not the staff’s fault. The staff here has been unbelievably friendly. The gal at the front desk is very happy and sounds very eager to make us as happy as she is. She says everything with a chipper tone, and each question sounds like she sincerely cares. Her demeanor and tone remind me of one of my Missouri relatives. I’m assuming the Texan/southernish accent has something to do with it. Anyway. Imagine someone saying, “Y’all come back now, ya here?” Now take the part “ya here” and make it at a higher pitch than the rest. That makes her sound slightly nicer, slightly more sincere, right? It does for me. I don’t know that I truly believe it – for all I know, she’s been a hotel front desk person for years and has perfected fake sincerity.
Maybe my uneasiness comes from the multiple “Safety Tips” and “We care about your safety!” notices I’ve seen since we checked in. We got one little leaflet in our check-in materials with safety awareness items, including, “Don’t open your door to anyone you don’t know.” Then the “We care about your safety!” note was posted – secured with four screws in a plastic display – to my hotel door, adjacent to the emergency procedures protocol for fires and tornadoes. So I guess I’m feeling a little uneasy tonight. Our hotel is also located conveniently near a busy highway with what appears to be plenty of traffic all night, so I’ll have to learn to fall asleep to lullabies of vehicles without exhausts – or modified exhausts to make them even louder – and semi-trailers barreling down the highway.
I won’t blame my inability to sleep on the traffic. I’ve dealt with that before. I think it’s just the general uneasiness that is making my sense of hearing that much more aware of everything it’s picking up. I’m hearing every key card that’s swiped, every padlock that’s locked and every late-night conversation from other hotel guests. I’m also facing the direction of the door so that in case someone breaks in – through the two or three locks – I will be able to see them coming and can quickly dial 911 on my phone (I considered dialing 911 on my cell phone and then locking it so that in the horrible event that I would need to call it, all I’d have to do was press the unlock button and hit “call.” I figured that might be a bit overboard). Anyway. I’m looking forward to returning to Minnesota. Forty-eight hours from now I will be back in my own bed in my secure condo with no sound of traffic and no cautionary warnings about not opening my door to strangers.