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5.12.15
Another crazy busy weekend. I got back from my conference on Saturday around noon, and that evening we had plans to go out with some other parents from Will's school. My sister and her husband came over around 5:30 to watch Will for us (we hadn't seen them in a few weeks with our schedule and them moving into a new house, so Will was thrilled to see them), and we went out for dinner and drinks and didn't get home until around 11:30.

The restaurant we went to was called Community Smith, which we chose primarily because it had a rooftop bar—one of the couples in the group is from Austria and they are returning home next month, and the wife has been wanting to hang out at a rooftop bar in downtown Atlanta before she leaves. The food wasn't bad, but there was nothing really amazing—the things that were probably the most unique were a couple of the side dishes, the spicy kale and the curried coconut milk chickpeas.

The service wasn't that great, though—at the end of the meal, they asked us if we were paying on one check or if we wanted it broken up by couple, and the rest of the group elected to break it up by couple since they offered to do that for us. About 15 minutes later, the checks came, and they were badly wrong for about half the group (ours was fairly accurate, only leaving off a glass of wine but not charging us for anything extra). They said they'd redo all the checks, and then the manager came back about 15 minutes later saying that they had tried multiple times to redo the checks but the number of people in our party kept crashing their system, so he was just going to comp everything for us.

He said this in a fairly hostile way, and the rest of the group was happy to leave without paying (they did leave cash tips for the waiter, however), especially since we had to wait so long for the check issue to get sorted out, but I just didn't feel right about not paying, and since our check was pretty accurate, I just gave that to them to process.

The service upstairs at the bar was similarly odd. The waitress didn't bring a cocktail menu and asked like we'd asked her to retrieve a dead fish from the garbage when we asked for one, and then proceeded to complain about her job while taking our orders. She brought me the wrong drink (a different brand of gin than I had asked for and a whole bunch of cucumbers instead of the extra limes I had requested) and didn't revisit the table in more than an hour (despite the fact that the bar was pretty small and there weren't too many other customers there that night). Julie and I eventually gave up on getting a check, so we just left $20 with one of the other couples and headed home before it got too late.

And then Sunday was Mother's Day...


5.11.15
My conference wasn't too bad, even though they relocated it from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore because of concern about the riots in Baltimore, which meant 1) that it was an hour and a half drive from the airport to the hotel instead of 20 minutes and 2) there was absolutely nothing to do when the conference wasn't happening. I got so bored that I ended up going to sleep by 10 most nights and getting up at 5:30 to do a four mile run around the resort grounds just to kill some time (and get my exercise, of course).

The new location for the conference was at a golf resort, and in general it wasn't a bad venue except for one little problem: they tried to throw me out of my hotel room the day before I was due to check out. It was Thursday afternoon (the conference went through Friday), and I took advantage of a break in the conference sessions to go up to my room and check work email for a few minutes. I heard what sounded like someone repeatedly trying to insert a key card into my door, and when I went over to look into the peephole, I saw a man with a suitcase angrily muttering to himself before walking back down the hall.

I assumed that he had just gone to the wrong room or the wrong floor and didn't think anything of it until a few minutes later when someone from housekeeping knocked on my door and asked why I hadn't left the room yet because there was another guest who was ready to check in. I explained that my check out date wasn't until the next day and there must be some mistake, so they said they'd have the front desk look into it and contact me.

About 10 minutes after that, I got a call from the front desk saying that according to their records, I was supposed to check out that morning. I explained that no, I wasn't supposed to check out until tomorrow, and that my original reservation had been until Saturday but that I had changed it to Friday when I checked in (I had tickets to a concert in DC on Friday night, but since the new conference location was so far from DC compared to the Baltimore venue, I made arrangements to stay with a friend on Friday night instead of going back and forth to the hotel in the middle of nowhere). The woman from the desk said she'd discuss the situation with the housing director and review their records again and get back to me.

After another 10 minutes (during which time I retrieved my confirmation number from the trip notes I always keep in Evernote when I travel), I got a call from the same woman, who said, "I've discussed this with the housing director, and we agree that you are checking out today." After a momentary stunned pause on my part, I said, "No, I'm not, and here's my confirmation number to show that I was originally booked through Saturday." I also reminded them that I was there with a conference that had just given them a windfall of tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected business and that it would make no sense for me to check out a day before the conference ended. She said she'd get back to me within an hour.

At this point, I decided it would be unwise of me to leave the room because I was guessing that my key was already invalid, and once they had me locked out, I lost pretty much all my leverage. They took nearly the full hour, but when they called me back, they told me that I did not have to check out until tomorrow, but that I would need to come downstairs to get a new key. But instead of apologizing, they again tried to make it sound like it was somehow my fault, saying "We've had to move mountains, but I'm happy to inform you that we'll be able to extend your stay by one more night." I (mostly) calmly explained that, no, they were not extending my stay one more night, they were fulfilling the obligation of my reservation and scrambling to make up for a mistake by one of their staff members, likely the person who checked me in when I arrived on Tuesday.

They were more apologetic when I came down to get my key, offering some free drinks at the bar or snacks delivered to my room, but I declined—I just wanted my interactions to be over and done with and to get back to the conference without worrying about them giving away my room. It was a very surreal experience, and some of the worst customer service I've ever experienced in a hotel, especially a higher-end resort property.

Other than that, it was a pretty nice stay, but I'll be very happy if I never have to return there again. Let's hope no other unexpected instability in Baltimore forces them to move the conference in future years.


5.4.15
Leaving town for a conference tomorrow, so this will be my last post for a while. The weekend was pretty good—my 5K was no problem at all (I was slow, but I didn't have a problem finishing without taking any walking breaks despite a couple of pretty imposing hills), and I think I'm going to do a couple more over the next month.

Will also had soccer on Sunday, and after scoring a couple of goals last week, he's suddenly way more into than he ever has been, wanting to stay in for as long as possible (after typically being the first kid who wants to be rotated and/or take a water break). He's not necessarily any better a player, but he seems engaged for once, and he's definitely more willing to get into a crowd of kids and mix it up for the ball than he has been in the past.


5.1.15
Running my first 5K tomorrow. I'm not really that nervous about it—I've been running about 3 miles in my very hilly neighborhood for the past couple of weeks without a problem, the first time I've really run outdoors since starting to run on a treadmill a year and a half ago, but it will be weird to run in a big crowd people given that this has thus far been a very solitary activity for me.

I'm sure I'm going to be one of the slower contestants, even within my age group, but I'm not at the point where I'm worried too much about my time yet—just going out and running on a new course and finishing without pausing to walk will be an accomplishment for me. As a bonus for this particular run, there's also a Tot Trot that Will's going to do, so he's very excited to join me even though it will mean getting up very early on a Saturday (the race starts at 8 a.m., but you have to get over there around 7:30 to pick up your shirt and race materials).

We'll see how it goes; Atlanta is thick with 5K races between April and October, so if I like it, I can do one or two a month pretty easily, just substituting one of those for one of my three weekly runs. And if it doesn't do anything for me, at least I can say I've done it and then possibly start working on training for a 10K.


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