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Author Archive: "Jacob Tomsky"

The Diggs Go to Detroit, Part Five: The Check-Out

The Diggs, a family of four on vacation, have concluded their stay at a hotel — save for the painful process of settling the bill. (Read "Part One: Hotel Reservations and Arrival," "Part Two: The Check-In," "Part Three: Interlude and Thank You," and "Part Four: The Three-Night Stay.")

Mr. Diggs sits on the edge of the hotel bed and studies the bill for his hotel stay, which was slid under his door sometime during the early hours of the morning. The bill is composed solely of what's referred to as "incidental charges," meaning any charges in addition to room and tax. His bill has no room or tax fees because he has prepaid those expenses online. But he has yet to pay for the stream of incidental charges that drip over onto a second page and congeal into a total with which he is quite uncomfortable .

Meanwhile, his wife, Karen, is taking a record-breaking shower and has decided to dump an entire unopened mini-bottle of conditioner on her head, even though she already completely emptied a first full little bottle of conditioner five minutes ago. ...


The Diggs Go to Detroit, Part Four: The Three-Night Stay

The Diggs, family of four, have succeeded in securing a tiny room and are now attempting to enjoy a vacation.

Mr. Diggs is standing in the lobby, sopping wet, rainwater dripping from his head and coat. A big puddle has formed around his shoes. A lobby porter stands idly by, leaning on a mop, waiting for the man to move, wondering if he'll slip and bust his ass right here in the lobby. That's a lot of water.

Though Mr. Diggs managed to save $100 booking over the Internet, after two full days of vacation he has already exhausted that money. And he's wet.

Mr. Diggs is now down $400.

More if you count the minibar, which he hasn't.

Room charges began to accrue immediately after Charles the bellman left the family alone in their king-bedded room , which was much too small for a family of four. Karen Diggs, the loving wife, had recently read a hotel memoir titled Heads in Beds and learned, among other things, that housekeepers can only clean the minibar glasses with the cleaning agents they have available. And shampoo and lemon Pledge are what housekeepers have available. ...


The Diggs Go to Detroit, Part Three: Interlude and Thank You

After completing the hotel check-in process, the Diggs have settled into their room and are finally enjoying the American tradition of "vacationing."

Leaving them to that, I'd like to devote today's post to thanking Powell's Books for allowing me this wonderful opportunity. Seriously. Before I was ever a writer, I was a reader. And for anyone addicted to books, a great bookstore is the sexiest place on earth. And Powell's is the bookstore. Only this past summer did I have my first opportunity to visit Portland and hence, immediately, Powell's. I have never seen so many people buying so many books. Armloads of books. Readers. The best people in the world. Nonreaders will never know how awesome and exciting and sleek it always is to walk into a great bookstore and do some damn book shopping.

Twelve years before Heads in Beds, my memoir of the hotel business, was even a concept, I was already dedicated to writing. It was like a disease for me, and it did have side effects. Working 10 years straight in low-level hotel jobs with little advancement was one of those side effects. In order to keep motivated and writing, I created a system to keep me focused. Charts. I kept crazy charts, timing each minute I worked of each day and collecting the time into weekly and monthly statistics. Why did that work for me? Because long before I was good at writing, I still considered it a job. But I also had the hotel job. And I was putting 40 to 50 hours a week into that so... where did I stand with regards to my writing career? What kind of time was I pulling there?


The Diggs Go to Detroit, Part Two: The Check-In

In Part One, the Diggs, a family of four, booked a hotel vacation over the Internet. At this point, they have managed to get inside the hotel lobby! And now they deal with the matter of checking in.

Mr. Diggs leads the charge to the hotel's front desk. In his excitement to check in, he actually calls out his last name while still halfway across the lobby.

"Mr. Diggs! Checking in, Diggs!"

Being that there is no line and little reason to yell information from a long distance, the front desk agent, Tim, pretends as if he didn't fully understand what was yelled at him. His fingers do, in fact, type in the last name and press Enter to search while he waits for the family to fully approach the desk before asking Mr. Diggs to repeat the name.

"Sorry about that! Diggs. It's under Stanley Diggs."

Tim is looking down at a screen containing 15 reservations with the last name of Diggs. Five of them are cancelled and five of them occurred in the previous month, but the remaining five are for various dates in the future, including one for today ...


The Diggs Go to Detroit, Part One: Hotel Reservations and Arrival

Mr. Diggs is squinting at his computer screen, scrolling down a bottomless page of hotel options, before he discovers an option to sort by price. Slamming his index finger down hard to select that option, he is refreshed back to the top of the page and chooses the first, cheapest option. Mr. Diggs, a credit card, and his family of four are seconds away from making their next vacation a nonrefundable reality.

While they begin to pack and load up the car, I'll start with a few actualities taking place in cyberspace as well as in the physical world, specifically the world of hotels, which I know so very well. Mr. Diggs has managed to prepay for his entire hotel stay, including taxes. That money is gone and, should his dates change at all, it will be very hard to get back. After the charge has gone through, whatever website he used will then book with the specific hotel at a pre-negotiated rate, which is much lower. Mr. Diggs paid x, but the hotel will charge the Internet bookers the rate of x minus $200. Still, he has done ...


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