I am currently lying on a bed in a $200 hotel room, watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days on the flatscreen in front of me.
You may be asking yourself, “How did she, a broke college student, get here?”
To be honest, getting into the hotel isn’t that interesting of a story. When you choose December, the epitome of winter, to travel to a town allocated entirely to its beautiful beaches, you get to stay in five-star hotels for $30 a night.
However getting into my hotel room, that’s where the action starts.
I had used all the time in the day Albufeira allotted me before it started pouring down rain to explore the city. I saw the beaches, the city center, and climbed to the top of a precarious cliff for a better few of the landscape. However when it started raining and, despite having a little pink umbrella, my shoes began filling with enough water to create my own North Atlantic Ocean, I decided to call it a day.
It was only 5pm but the sun was set, the cold was kicking it, and I was ready to stay in my hotel room the rest of the night. I had been staying in 12 dorm hostels and riding buses for the past 4 days so having a room and bathroom to myself felt like paradise. So I picked up dinner on the way back to the hotel and made my way up to the fourth floor.
I placed the key card in the reader and pushed the door. It stayed locked. I tried again, noticing that no lights were coming on the reader. The last thing I wanted to do was go back down to the lobby. I was soaked, shivering, and had just tracked a tremendous amount of water through the fancy lobby which seemed impossible for how small I am. But I had no other options.
My wet tennis shoes squeaked incredibly loud against the tile floor as I stood, awkwardly waiting for a front desk attendant to call me over. When they did, he handed me a new key card and told me to try it. So I grabbed the card, and squeaked my way back over to the elevator. Rode up, swiped the card again, and received a red light. Again, and again, and again. I don’t think I ever truly understood the phrase, “walk of shame” until I saw the front desk attendants snap their heads up as soon as they heard those squeaky tennis shoes hit the tile floor again.
The two men discussed quickly in Portuguese before one of them grabs a device that looks as though he might try and bomb the door down, and leads me back to the elevator. He unscrews the automatic lock on the door, changes the battery, then tries the card again. Still red. It’s around this time that I begin to think to myself, “golly gee, I sure do hope I have the right room number.”
Of course the hotel had given me a little convenient slip for my card with my room number on it so I could never forget. And I had that convenient little slip… inside my room. Nobody ever made sure I was taking an attendant to break me into the correct room. So as I stood there as the attendant look the entire handle off the door, I silently prayed that nobody would hear the commotion inside and open the door to see what was happening.
As the man sat on the ground working, I worried about what I should be doing. Did he feel rushed that I was just standing here watching him? I fear that he might have been annoyed if I got on my phone and scrolled mindlessly as if I didn’t appreciate the work being put in. When my dad used to fix things around the house, I would oftentimes sit and hand him tools as he needed them. Should I sit down next to the man and ask if he needed me to hold his screwdriver? Sometimes my dad would let me tighten something into place with a small wrench. Should I ask this man if he needs my help tightening something with a wrench?
I was so distracted by contemplating ways to become this grown man’s little helper that I didn’t see what the final key was to get the lock open. All I knew was that he swiped the card, and the light appeared green. It seemed as though he was just as anxious about the scenario as I, for as soon as the light turned green he scurried back onto the elevator and down to the lobby.
I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath until I caught a glimpse of my backpack sitting on the couch. A sign that I had gained entrance to the correct room and not a stranger’s. Could you imagine if I had to waddle back down to the lobby, squeak across the floor, and mutter the words, “I got the room number wrong, you just broke into the wrong hotel room.”
I wonder who the workers would have called if I had both asked to hold the screwdriver and been required to utter that undesirable sentence.
Reality came rushing back to me as I shivered once more from the damp clothes on my back and I quickly entered the bathroom and shut the door to take a quick shower. I turned around to look in the mirror to see the sight that the hotel attendants saw every time I exited the elevator and squeaked my way to their desks. My hair, despite being matted to my head, had all my ever-so-wild flyaways sitting up as if I had just been electrocuted. My eyeliner and mascara, smudged underneath my eyes. Since I was wearing a winter coat that was 4 sizes too big for me, you could not see my nice shirt or the top of my pants, so it appeared as if I had an extra long torso and was wearing flowered pajama bottoms instead of a perfectly crafted outfit.
Sometimes I joke to my mother that I oftentimes take on the appearance of a 12-year-old boy who is just slightly deranged. She always refutes this claim but I think everyone, especially the man sitting on the floor of the hotel hallway breaking into my room, would have to agree. This woman is deranged (but she is deranged in Albufeira, Portugal).
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