I Call In the Marines

I am on Day One of a three-day writer retreat at a nice hotel in suburban Rockford, Ill. My room has many amenities, including a half-sized fridge, a microwave, and an in-room safe.

It seemed such a cool idea, the in-room safe, just big enough for a laptop, a purse, and assorted smaller electronics. It was easy to work, too, with a punch-in-your-own-code lock system. I tested it to see how it worked, and it worked just fine, so before going to supper (order-in Chinese at the retreat organizer’s room two doors down the hall),  I put in my purse, Kindle, iPod, external hard drive, and laptop.

After I returned from my Not-So-Very-Crispy Sesame Chicken, I went to retrieve my laptop. Alas, when I punched in the code the safe made the same groaning sound that my 20-year-old fax machine made yesterday after a paper jam (the display on the safe showed different error code, though).

I called the front desk clerk. She gave me the override code.

The override code didn’t work. I tried several times. I got an error code that said something like “–batt.”

I reported this to the front desk clerk, who suggested the maintenance man would be in at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.

I suggested, perhaps somewhat vigorously, that since my purse, keys, phone, Kindle, iPod, and laptop were locked up, that it would be more appropriate for the maintenance man be called NOW.

Fortunately, one of the assistant managers of the hotel is the son of the woman who organized the retreat, so the next thing I did was ring her room and un-vigorously explain the situation.

The maintenance man arrived less than an hour later. He was probably my age and wearing a Marines T-shirt.

“The Marines have landed!” I said, wittily.

“You’re safe,” he replied.

“My safe is the problem,” I pointed out.

{I can be terribly clever when I’m obsessing about my laptop maybe not having been completely asleep and overheating to the point of melting in the hardened steel confines of an in-room safe…}

The Marine sat on the floor in front of the safe, punched in the override code, and thumped on the door a couple of times.

The door popped open.

It seems my laptop, which I had placed on top of everything else to avoid putting heavy objects on it such as my purse, had slid forward and was pressing against the door, which confused the Very Sensitive Electronics in the safe’s operating system.

The maintenance Marine would not take a tip. I made sure that the retreat organizer passed along that information to her son.

So it has been an eventful week so far. On Monday, I broke the fax machine at home. On Tuesday, the hotel safe turned on me and we had to call in the Marines to fix it.

I’m hoping Wednesday will be significantly calmer and I get some actual writing done.

© 2011 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This entry was posted in Tech Tips, The Writing Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to I Call In the Marines

  1. I couldn’t stop giggling! You may not think so now but I bet you can use this experience in a novel some day 🙂

    Hope the rest of your retreat goes beautifully and you get a lot accomplished!


  2. Peter says:

    Wow, an exciting first day! Now, by Very Sensitive Electronics I assume you meant Very Expensive Electronics That Couldn’t Possibly Be Jammed By A Five Year Old Laptop.


  3. At least it makes for a good story, right? I hope you enjoy your retreat.


  4. Even with your damsel issue, I’m jealous. A writing retreat sounds like heaven.


  5. Dawn Malone says:

    Oh, boy! I hope it’s not a week full of Mondays for you! That is too funny. Enjoy your retreat!


  6. MaryWitzl says:

    Call me paranoid, but I’ll bet your fax machine and that safe were in cahoots. I’m sure the machines in this house whisper behind my back and trade you’ll-never-believe-what-she-did-today stories. ;o)

    Thank you for making me smile — and feeling a little less of a Luddite than I am.


    • Anne Bingham says:

      Which reminds me, I need to call the repair place and see what’s up with the fax machine. They were “two weeks behind” when I took it in, but that was nearly four weeks ago!


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