It all started with a text message on Thursday evening and, three days later, I was on a plane heading for the Annual Data Governance and Information Data Quality conference at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego. Yes…I can see you checking your calendar and wondering how on earth you let that slip by without attending. Don’t worry, I have extra handouts if you need them.
I was to be the guest of a company called Global IDs which, in return for my help on their booth, would cover my travel and accommodation expenses. I was happy to help (as they are a great bunch of people and have a great product) but, as an added bonus, I have good friends who live in San Diego and this would be the first opportunity to see them in person since their wedding last August.
As I was a last-minute addition, the Catamaran was fully booked, but someone (who shall remain nameless) told me they had heard good things about the nearby Surfer Hotel. Since it was close and reasonably priced, I booked the room without checking any further…
We stopped first at the Catamaran, where my colleagues were greeted in a room sporting tropical gardens, fountains and wicker chairs, and my ex-boss was upgraded to room with a view of the bay…Very nice.
By contrast, my first impression of the Surfer was to wonder whether the rooms were rented by the hour. I was half expecting my bed to have a coin slot to activate the “Magic Fingers.” At check-in they asked for my credit card “for any incidentals”, which I thought was normal until I discovered that the hotel had no facilities that I could find, so I am still left wondering what on earth they expected to charge for.
The door to my room opened onto two large dumpsters, old sofas, mattresses and empty boxes.
The room had no A/C, no Wi-Fi, no mini-bar, a TV from long before the phrase ‘flat screen’ was invented, and a table that was just big enough to squeeze my tiny net-book onto…as long as I didn’t use the separate mouse.
The shower was interesting since the shower-head was about nipple height, and was just wide enough that I could turn around but, had I dropped the soap, I would have had to exit the shower to pick it up (sic).
Anyone from the East coast is going to find the Mission Beach area quite…interesting. The beach seems to have “odd characters” spread at regular intervals – almost as if they have an allotted territory. Moving away from the beach, the boulevard offers Tarot card readings, surf paraphernalia, and bail bonds. In fact bail bond advertising seems to be a huge business here…I’ll let you decide what that says about the area. “We’re not in Kansas anymore” is a phrase that sprung to my mind.
The conference was the typical geeky fare – which means time spent checking out booths for any goodies worth snagging, and stuffing jars with business cards in the hope of winning an iPod or two.
A vendor (that I know quite well) was foolish enough to hand out pens with a built-in laser pointer. These were a source of constant mirth as we lit up their potential clients during demos. I would not have been surprised to see a Hellfire missile snake its way through the hall to take out their booth.
But San-Diego is such a laid back place that, by Day-2 at the Surfer, I was starting to get into the groove, realizing that I should just get over myself. I didn’t look out of the front door anyway, A/C was redundant because the temperature was perfect and the room was actually quite clean.
Even the lack of Wi-Fi was not a problem. When necessary, I would simply wander over to the foyer of the Catamaran to use theirs. In the process people would stop by and chat or give me a hard time about my “new office”. It was actually kinda fun!
Really, it is nice once in a while to take a step back and think about what is really important. Would my usual business class seat have been better than the coach seat that I had on this trip? Sure. But it really wasn’t a problem.
Frankly, it is amazing how easy it is to become spoiled and start feeling entitled to things that, in the grand scheme of things, are petty to say the least. It reminds me of an interview I once saw with Louis C.K. where he was talking about how Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy, and I couldn’t agree more.
One of the things I love about travel is that it is rarely perfect and forces you to adjust to the circumstances around you, sometimes with highly comical results, and almost always leaving a story to tell…
On the way to a lovely vacation spot in England’s Lake District my new (to me) Mini decided to eject most of it’s oil just outside Blackpool. I had planned to avoid Blackpool completely because I had heard that it was tacky in the extreme, and I had heard correctly. But, honestly, the weekend I spent in Blackpool while my car was repaired is still one of the most fun and memorable vacations I have had – and Blackpool turned out to be much more fun than the Lake District. Blackpool IS amazingly tacky – in fact, it does tacky so well, that it is a class act. Don’t ask me to explain that, just go there and try it.
Over the years I have had many similar ‘problems’ (often motorcycle related) that resulted in meeting the most interesting people. As a result, one of my favorite quotes is from G.K. Chesterton who said “Inconvenience is a mis-perceived adventure.” I couldn’t agree more.
So, the next time you find yourself whining because your room isn’t perfect, or the eggs aren’t exactly as you like them, take a step back and ask yourself if it really is worth all the fuss. I bet you will find yourself laughing more and frowning less, and that, surely, is a good thing.