I’ve posted a bit on Facebook about what I learned from my Big Adventure at the Toastmasters International Convention. Here’s a little bit about one of the points I posted.
Learning point: I should always travel with my own pillow, even if I have to pay to take it on the plane.
Now here’s the rest of the story: The convention was held at a fancy hotel/conference center in Orlando. Marcia, Emi, and I shared a lovely room, but the first night I was there, I knew there was going to be trouble. Big neck trouble of record-breaking proportions. The pillows were down, and I am required to sleep on my side. I need a large, firm, supportive pillow. Down will not cut it.
I called down to the concierge and asked if they had any firm pillows for side sleepers. I was told they had very nice foam pillows that would meet my needs. Housekeeping would bring the pillows up for me.
The next day, I could barely move my neck. I stopped by the concierge desk and requested the firm pillows for a side sleeper. I explained that I was having a lot of pain from improper support. They said they would have firm foam pillows sent up. Three down pillows appeared while I was out of my room. Not foam. Not firm. Down. Just like the ones I already had.
The following day, I was once again in spasm, and so was Emi. It was the day of my competition. Fortunately, I had thought to pack some essential oil of lavender, which is almost miraculous for muscle spasm. I’m not sure how the other contestants managed to sit anywhere close to me as stinky as I was, but the spasm eased up a bit. By dress rehearsal at noon, I could move freely and by evening, I was fine. Nevertheless, I spoke to a concierge again, explaining that the down pillows would not work and that I needed foam. This concierge called housekeeping and told them that I was allergic to down. He instructed them quite vigorously to take foam pillows to my room. Once he got off the phone, I told him that I really am not allergic to down. I just have an old neck that needs support. He said that the support angle wasn’t getting the job done, but that if he said it was allergies, Housekeeping would stop bringing the down pillows and bring me what I needed. It sounded like a it might work.
Housekeeping sent three more pillows up. It’s a good thing I’m not really allergic to down.
By the way, we started with six pillows. Now six more had been brought up. We had doubled the pillow population in the room, and it was starting to look a little silly. You might be tempted to think that if I just piled several pillows on top of each other that it would be the same as having a firm foam pillow. According to the muscles in my neck, you would be wrong.
The next day, I was at the concierge desk again, and again three pillows were sent up to the room. If you’re keeping track, we’re now at 15 pillows. All of them down. More neck spasm. The next day, I asked again and again three more down pillows were delivered, bringing us up to 18 down pillows in the room.
At this point, we were not entirely sure that there was room for us in the room at the same time as the pillows. Nevertheless, I was not giving up. I picked up a pillow and walked down to the front desk to try again. I asked to speak to a manager. I very nicely explained the slightly surreal process by which we had accumulated 18 lovely down pillows in our room. I handed him one that had just been delivered, saying, “They told me that this is a firm foam pillow, but it feels like down to me. What do you think?” He disappeared into a back room with it for a few minutes. When he came back out, he assured me that Housekeeping did have firm foam pillows and that he would make sure that I get some in the next half hour. Then he gave me the down pillow back, I guess because I look like a person who could not have gotten along with just 17 down pillows.
The three of us were lounging about the room a bit later when a handsome young gentleman knocked on the door. He proudly delivered three more pillows into my hands. I smooshed one on the bed to test its firmness and said, “This feels like another down pillow.”
“That’s all we’ve got.”
I gave him a blank stare while I considered what to say. Finally, I went with, “Oh, well, you can take these back then.” Yes, I know, you’re slain by my witty rejoinder. So was he.
“You don’t want them?”
I wish I could tell you that I had a clever comeback for that. I’m sure that when this turns into a humorous speech someday, I will pretend that I had a clever comeback. In the reality of that moment, however, I just shook my head and tried not to laugh or cry or say something I shouldn’t. Emi refused to look up from her book. I think she was snickering. Marcia thanked the young man profusely for his effort and sent him away, pillows in hand. It’s good that one of us acted like a nice normal person. Of course, she likes down pillows.
The next day, Marcia and I flew back to Phoenix, leaving Emi alone in a room with 18 down pillows. I hope she had enough for her last night in Orlando…