This is the second time I have stayed at this place, out in the countryside. It’s old – based on a 17th century manor house, but it’s nice enough and the commute is easier than the one from Dublin.

Last time here, it was my phone. It was blocked in some way from dialing an outside toll free number so I had to do all my long distance calling from my cell. Every morning I would stop by the desk and request a repair; and every evening I would try it and it wouldn’t work. I finally just gave up figuring it was a minor inconvenience.

And then there was the buffet that starts at 7:00 AM every day. Except on the days when it doesn’t, which just happens to be about 4 days out of 5.

I checked in on Saturday and things seemed to be in order. Later in the evening, when I went to connect my computer to the Ethernet I discovered that the room was lacking a cable. So when I left on Sunday for our grand motor tour, I requested one.

Returning on Sunday night, I again went looking and found no cable. Bile rising, I ransacked the room a bit and discovered that they’d left it on a table inside the door. Apologizing for my lack of trust, I proceeded over to the desk and tried to plug it in. I was immediately informed of why there was a phone cable plugged into the Ethernet jack. It was a phone jack, as were the two next to it and the two across the room. I called the front desk and asked if every room had Ethernet – “Of course sir, I will send my colleague up immediately.”

Her colleague arrived and went through the same routine I had just completed, attempting to plug an 8 mm connector into a 5 mm hole. “Odd” he proclaimed, leaving to go over and check another room for corroboration.

Returning, he said that in fact the other rooms did have Ethernet and that I was free to move down the hall to Room 241. Which just happened to be the room I was in last time, with the recalcitrant phone.

Figuring what the heck, it’s only 11 PM, I bundled up my stuff and dragged it 8 doors down. This time though I checked the phone before I unpacked and was pleased to discover that it did indeed work this time.

I unpacked and stowed all my gear and went to the safe to secure all my traveling valuables. The safe was dead, a fact becoming more and more apparent after my fourth attempt to enter the combination.

So called downstairs and told them that while I was sorry to be a pain, I did need the safe.

“Of course sir, I will send my colleague up immediately.”

15 minutes later, her colleague re-appeared still cheerful despite the late hour. He checked the safe and agreed with my assessment – it was in fact not working. “Must be the battery, I’ll go get a screwdriver.” Gee, like it might have been a good idea to bring that up the 1st time?
10 more minutes and he came back again, screwdriver and batteries in hand. Removing the inner panel, he announced that the batteries were the problem, not dead but hanging out of the cage. Replacing them he did a quick check and all was good. Until he tried a closed door test and received an error. Repeating the test, it worked on the second attempt leaving me wondering how sad I would be to leave at 5 AM on Friday with all my iPods permanently entombed in this crabby box.

Now it was 12 AM and I was ready to pass out following the long day’s drive and the long evening’s trans-room migration. At this point it was only a matter of determining if I could stem the heat pouring out of the radiator. While the thermostat was present, it didn’t give the impression it was alive so I opened the windows, threw of the blankets and went to bed.

Next day I checked the various subsystems before leaving for work (including the safe) and everything was in order. Off I went to the breakfast buffet, again not present at the promised time of 7 AM and then on to work.

Returning last evening, I walked down the long hall and popped my key into the door.

It didn’t work.