Squawk Radio

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Notes from The Barefoot Booktour, a five city tour of bookstores, libraries and Walmarts to promote Xtina’s new release THE BAREFOOT PRINCESS:

Thursday — hop three flights staring at 5:20am on the west coast and ending at 6 pm in Buffalo NY. I leave in the dark and land in the dark. Take a cab to the An Unnamed Really Expensive Hotel. They have ONE valet. The cab sits in line for ten minutes while said valet parked the three empty cars in front of us. The cab driver puts the suitcases, which weigh a ton because of promotional materials, on the sidewalk. There is no bellboy. There is no bell captain. I tug the huge, heavy suitcases toward the doors. One is revolving -- small, no way through. The other is a double regular door. A guy who's standing there waiting for a car from the ONE valet opens it for me, then watching me struggle to shove one suitcase through and drag the other one, which takes me an embarrassingly long time. The second door is mine to handle. I get into the lobby. Placed looks great. But no bell captain or bell boy at the bell desk.


I go to the desk and check in. The people are lovely, very friendly. They ask if I want reservations for the steakhouse which is supposedly one of the top ten in the country. I say no, I got up at 3 am and I want room service and bed. They say I can get a meal from the steak house through room service.


I say, "Can I get help with my bags?" Because they sure as hell aren't offering. So they get like a manager who looks at the bags, sends me to my rooms and gets a cart. He brings them right up. He doesn't offer to fill the ice. He doesn't turn on the heat (it's BUFFALO in FEBRUARY) He doesn't stick the bags on the rack. He leans them against the wall. I'm too busy staring at the large room with nothing in it -- okay there's a desk, but how about an easy chair? with table and lamp? There's sure room for it! to notice. Oh, and the bed which is bad.


I go to the phone, call room service, ask where the menu is for the steak house. They'll send one up, then she adds, "But it's 45 minutes to an hour to get anything out of the steakhouse because they're busy." I haven't eaten since six this morning. So I order steak off their menu.

Not okay.

I order medium. I get well. I order a salad. The lettuce is wilted. I order the roasted potatoes. They are swimming in so much oil I can’t eat them. They ask if I want rolls. I say no. They send them anyway, thank God. They are those soft yellow rolls (ick) and they’re sort of smushed, but I eat one in lieu of the other stuff. I eat the steak (scarf it, actually), and as many of the wilted greens as I can stomach. And have a glass of wine. Then I go down to the bar and get a double cognac to kill the incipient food poisoning.

Friday — I order breakfast. Oatmeal, fruit and OJ. It comes late, and the lady says, "Someone's coming behind me with your fruit." Figures. She puts the tray on the desk. I pull the top off. The oatmeal has a film on it -- and there's none too much. And I find out the hard way there are lumps. I spit one back into the bowl. There's a knock at the door. It's her again -- and she hands me a BANANA. And she says, "Do you want this one, too?" And pulls a second banana out of her armpit where she was carrying it.

After great autographing at the Waldens in downtown Buffalo (thank you, Carie and Vivian!) I move to a different hotel, a gorgeous restored nineteenth century home called The Mansion on Delaware where they carry my bags, feed me wonderful food, and live to make me comfortable. I am truly, marvelously, pathetically grateful.

What about you? What horrific experiences have you had in hotels? While traveling? Tell all. I’m in the mood to be sympathetic.
Christina Dodd, 3:04 AM