Monday, July 7, 2008

Writing in Washington

I spent last Monday and Tuesday in Washington DC staying in the Crystal Marriot writing the beginning of a draft of one of the chapters of my dissertation while Kathy attended a conference there for work. When we arrived, we thought we’d lucked out as far as a room. We were “moved up” to a suite, which gave me a separate living room with not just a desk but also a table on which to spread my papers and books out. Shortly afterwards, however, we learned that the wired internet in the room wasn’t working. A technician was sent up and spent more than two hours trying to rewire the connection to get the system to work, all without success. He ended up suggesting we change rooms. When we asked at the desk about such a possibility there was no other room available because of the various conferences going on. My only option for internet access would be to buy a daily subscription to a wireless connection that was only available in one part of the lobby—a true pain when trying to check information online as I wrote.

But we were tired and it was almost 9 pm so we headed off for dinner in the hotel. We each ordered a crab cake sandwich and chowder. The chowder was good and the sandwiches came, but mine had the wrong side so it had to be taken back. Kathy meanwhile began to eat hers and said it was delicious. Mine arrived and just as I bit into it, the restaurant manager came to say we had the wrong orders. We insisted that we didn’t –we’d ordered crab cake sandwiches and that’s what was in front of us-- but he said we did and took both our plates away. The waitress came to explain that we’d each gotten a half-order crab cake sandwich instead of a full order sandwich and that they’d give us a free dessert after the dinner to make it up for us. At this point we didn’t want dessert; all we wanted was the check. She left –we thought to get the check—and about 10 minutes later our sandwiches were brought out again. The manager again apologized and explained that these were the full order sandwiches we’d originally ordered. He left and we looked—and the sandwiches looked exactly the same. They were exactly the same size crab cakes and rolls that we’d had before except that now we were too tired to even eat them. It was like something from Candid Camera. From that point on, we didn’t eat in the hotel. Instead we mainly ate in the mall nearby—not great food, but at least once we got it we knew it no one would take it away.

Overall, the two days turned out okay. The next evening we went to Georgetown for a little while and then went to see the FDR Memorial, which is the one monument in DC that I really like. It wasn’t the most exciting time away but it was a great way to get at least a little of the work done.

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