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Memories and Musings: Duel at the desk

By Gene Gallelli

Who doesn’t love a vacation? For example: A day at the beach with a good book and plenty of sunscreen. The whirling sound of a fishing reel alongside a favorite stream. Or, perhaps, frosty breaths accompanied by the sloshing of skies down a snow-covered slope.

What about checking into a lavish, expansive resort with a water park, three golf courses and more pools than you can count? Unfortunately, that would be a NO!

Forget the thirteen-hour drive, the motel and meals, even the endless gas refills that you expected and accepted. What you didn’t expect – and, much less accept – was the orchestrated check-in duel and dance euphemistically called, by a beaming employee, a resort “update!”

If a rose by any other name still smells as sweet (apologies to the poet), you can be certain that a sales pitch by any other name still smells as badly.

Let me explain.

After entering the resort lobby, the first stop is the check-in counter where a young clerk verifies your reservation, copies a credit card, hands you a map and a purple sheet boasting coupons, and, finally, hands over your condo keys.

Before you take two steps, you are intercepted by a uniformed employee who “leads” you to the parking-pass counter. But . . . instead of handing you the passes, they are given by your guide to the customer service employee who extends his hand and says, “Welcome home!” and offers a small glass of wine (which my daughter and I accepted).

Then the fun begins.

Round One: “What time can we sign you up for your resort update?” asks the customer service clerk.

“Never!” I reply, pleasantly.

He, after an unanticipated pause, says, “We feel very obligated to inform our ‘premier’ customers of all the changes and new opportunities the resort has to offer . . . I have an eight o’clock opening tomorrow morning.”

“Gee, thanks,” I reply, “but everything my family wants to do is still available here.”

Round Two: “How ’bout if we add fifty dollars in resort coupons for one hour of your time?” says the manager who is trained to notice when a “No thanks!” customer has arrived.

Angry that I’ve forgotten my “What is it about NO you don’t understand” button, I say, again, “No! Your ‘updates’ are sales pitches with coffee and donuts. I made that mistake . . . once.”

Unimpressed, he says, “How ’bout Tuesday at ten?”

“Nope!” My smile is fading.

“Okay, you pick a day and time that’s convenient for you.”

“Okay. Never!”

This bribe-and-badger dance continues for at least fifteen minutes: Discounts! Resort tours! Coffee and donuts!

“No! No! and, No!”

Finally, my parking passes are reluctantly pushed across the counter and both the manager and clerk tell us to enjoy our stay . . . and to give them a call if we change our minds (they had to have the last word).

As we head for the parking lot my daughter says, “Daddy, why did you turn down those discounts and coupons?”

“Because, it insults me to think how I choose to spend time with family can be bought with coupons.”

Except for check-in day, a wonderful two weeks was had by all. Although, next year, I’ll be certain to wear and brandish my NO button.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION PAGE.

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