Life on the Road: Part 2
Every night of a trip means a different city and another hotel. One night we may have 18 hours on the ground giving us plenty of time to get some sleep, while other nights it may be as little as 8 hours before we have to be back at the airport again. In my early flying days I would often put up with noisy neighbors, but in the past year, I've learned that there is no reason to put up with anything that will cause me to endanger my passengers by not getting enough sleep.
With new airline rest rules on the horizon, it is soon going to be easier to get a good nights rest when working for the airlines. However, there are some things that happen in hotels that just can not be avoided. A fire alarm going off at 3 in the morning, a junior high soccer championship occurring over the weekend, or the all too familiar sound of the neighboring rooms headboard rhythmically hitting the wall that your rooms share (at least someone is enjoying that).
Over the summer I had a fairly long overnight in the bustling metropolis of Minot, North Dakota. Our report time at the airport the next morning was 4 am. Around 6 pm the previous evening, I started my routine of closing the curtains, turning up the A/C, and turning off the lights in order to relax enough to fall asleep within the next hour or so. Within a few minutes of laying down, I began to hear the most horrendously loud engine noises outside my window. I went over to the window, threw open the curtains only to see stock cars racing around a dirt track at the fairgrounds just across the street.
I thought to myself that I might be able to drown out the noise by cranking up the fan on the A/C unit and popping in some ear plugs. My efforts didn't even make a dent in the amount of noise in that room. "These people surely have jobs, they can't possibly be racing any later than 8 or 9 on a Sunday night." I yelled to myself to be heard above the noise. I called down to the front desk to inquire as to how late the races would be going on that evening.
"Um......I think until 11 pm," she said gravely. The sinking feeling I got after she said that made the following moment seem like an eternity. Just as I was about to ask for a new room, the hotel employee said "I'm sorry, can I get you a different room?" Within 10 minutes, I was burying myself under the covers in my new room on the opposite side of the hotel. Not even a hint of race noise.
Since then I have changed my perspective. I no longer wait for the noises around me to stop. In fact, sometimes I don't even make it all the way to my room before turning around and heading back down to ask the front desk if there are any other rooms available.
Another evening, while in San Antonio, I decided I was not going to put up with a chirping smoke detector in an adjacent room all night. I promptly had my room changed to another floor. In New York, I found myself standing in front of the door to my room, key in hand, feeling the pounding bass through my feet from the bar located directly beneath with the live DJ. I was definitely not even going to bother going into the room to see if it was even slightly quieter. In Boise, I turned around and got back on the elevator when I heard a large dog barking down the same hallway.