Ten weird minutes | August 19, 2021

I recently came back from a work trip, my first since February 2020.  The actual travel portions of my work trips are typically completely unremarkable – transport to destination, check into hotel, complain to coworker about the air conditioning/pillows/ice machine/Wi-Fi, sleep, eat breakfast, leave – but the universe wanted me to remember this particular trip (as well as remind me that I apparently do not belong in normal human society) because this is what happened in the span of about ten minutes:

It was a beautiful sunny day.  My company had recently relocated our Minneapolis office to a very cool spot near the Guthrie Theater, and my coworkers and I were staying at an equally-hip hotel down the street.  If you’ve ever been to Minneapolis or any major city you know that there are many one-way roads, and I found myself on one as I rounded the corner in my bright blue Jeep Compass (a rental) in front of the hotel.  A gentleman in a suit was standing outside, presumably waiting for someone.

There were three parking garage entrances – to three different garages – outside of the hotel, so I slow-rolled to see if there was one I should use.  I did not do a good job in identifying the correct ramp.  I did, however, do such a good job slow-rolling that I slow-rolled right to the end of the street, away from all parking opportunities.  I circled the block.

On my way back around, I decided I would temporarily park on the street and then ask the hotel staff which ramp to use.  There was a large open spot just past the farthest ramp, so I slow-rolled into that one, got out of my bright blue car, realized it was a handicapped spot, got back in my car, and went around the block again.

This time around, the gentleman in the suit waved at me.  I waved back, and pulled into a different parking spot which also turned out to be handicapped.

On my third (technically fourth) time ‘round, I made the bold choice to just pull up between two of the ramps, directly outside both the door and the gentleman, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t get towed in the time it would take to check in.  I strode out of the car.

“’Not in Kansas anymore,” the gentleman said brightly as I walked up the steps.

“Yeah,” I laughed, the eight-year-old girl in me thrilled that my parking indecision gave off a Wizard of Oz aura instead of a “What am I doing here and who are these people” vibe.

“Which part are you from?”  He grinned.

“The Emerald City,” I said, loving that this stranger and I were taking this joke even farther.

“I’ve never heard of it,” he said, his smile flickering a bit.  “Where is that by?”

I paused.

“Um,” I said, “Munchkinland?”

He frowned.

“Well, have a good day!” I said, opening the door to the hotel.

“You…too,” he said.

I was halfway inside when I realized I hadn’t locked my car door.  I turned back and pointed the keyfob directly at the rental…which is when I noticed the license plate.  It was from Kansas.

I didn’t have time to be properly embarrassed because a bunch of my coworkers were inside the busy lobby.  I said hello, and walked up to the front desk.

“Amanda Kosior?” The hotel employee greeted me.

“Yes,” I said, feeling famous.  I gave her my ID.

“Oh!”  She said.  “You’re actually Amanda Kosior.”

“Yes,” I said. 

Her phone buzzed, and she called over another staff member to finish up my check-in.

“Oh, the real Amanda Kosior,” the new employee said.  “Amanda Kosior, Amanda Kosior.”

“Yes,” I said, once again no longer in Kansas.

“I’m going to put you in room 454,” she said, “Just down the hall from another one of the Amanda Kosiors.”

“From the wha-“ I asked, as another one of my coworkers walked up.

“Hey,” she said to me – and then, to the hotel staff, “Reservation under Amanda Kosior.” – because, as I had forgotten, all of the rooms had been held with my name and company card.

I got my key, as well as directions to the proper ramp.  I didn’t even need to circle the block to park.  I did, however, need to gain about 2,000 pounds to exit, because it was one of those pressure pad ramps where you can only enter if you are a vehicle.  I wandered up and down the driveway looking for a doorway to the street, finally giving up and going into the entrance marked, “Hotel Conference Center.”

The Conference Center turned out to be the lowest level of the hotel, completely devoid of people and filled with (not really but sort of) abandoned creepiness.  Fortunately, the elevator was close by.  I pressed the button.  The door opened immediately.

Inside, a (different) gentleman sat on a rolling desk chair.  He was smartly dressed, his legs crossed. Also, he was completely covered in and surrounded by scraps of notebook and toilet paper, as if someone shot them out of a confetti cannon.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” I said.

“Are you coming aboard?”  He asked.

I looked around the empty room, figured I had the high road (I mean, I was standing), and stepped on.  I pressed Floor 1; he pressed 7.

“Just riding the elevator?” I asked, crossing my fingers that he was a repairman.

“No,” he said.  “I lost my keycard, so I needed to use this.”  He held up a jump drive.  I looked at the panel; no jump drive slot was visible.

“Sounds fine,” I said, as the door opened to my floor.

“Have a good day,” he called after me.

“You, too,” I said.

I did have a good day, which progressed as expected from that point forward.  I did hit my head on my hotel room coffee maker (don’t ask) and realized sometime around 10 pm that I didn’t pack my computer charger or any underwear – but both of those things were pretty much par for the course for me.

The photo above is of my Kansas-plated rental car.

This week’s news is about a Mad Dog, a Habitat Hero, and a Mindful Matter.  Read on.

The Cass-Clay Chapter of the Awesome Foundation handed out envelopes of money to people at random last Saturday. (Fargo Forum)

Watford City’s Ribfest will be featured on Mad Dog & Merrill’s Midwest Grill’n Show. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Dean Bellmore has been honored with the Chahinkapa Zoo’s Habitat Hero Award for giving over 20 years of his time volunteering on projects such as digging out the kangaroo habitat and fixing plumbing. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Grand Forks’ Senta Lauren is exhibiting her first art show at the Alerus Center after picking up a paint brush during the pandemic. (Grand Forks Herald)

Fargo’s Preeti Chemiti has co-authored a (free) guidebook on student mental health thanks to a $5,000 grant from Princeton. (Grand Forks Herald)

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