It had been a very long drive after what seemed like a very long week (though it was only Wednesday) when I finally arrived for the 11th Annual Regional NJ/Delaware Valley Chapters HIMSS Conference at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City, a great show that I attend every year.
I’d left the office right after finishing production of a webinar and headed south for what should have been a two-and-a-half hour trip, but wound up taking an extra hour with the traffic. I’d parked the car in the casino garage and made my way through the gaming machines toward the front desk. But when I turned the corner, my eyes were met with a troubling scene – a line at the registration desk 25 people long. Checking my phone, I noticed it was 6:40 and, realizing the opening reception started 7, I had no time to waste going nowhere fast on that line.
I remembered getting an email from the hotel a few hours earlier saying something about express check-in at a kiosk in the lobby. “Whew!” I thought with relief, as I scanned my email and found the instructions. Sauntering up to one of the machines, I first scanned the bar code which had been sent to my phone, then inserted my driver’s license for identification. My first try with the license, however, was unsuccessful as, like a soda machine eschewing a wrinkled dollar, it spit my license back at me. However, the second try did the trick, and I was ready to be well on my way to the reception, via a quick pit stop in the room to change.
But it was not to be.
“Welcome Mr. Guerra,” the screen read. “Your room is not yet ready. Would you like to receive an email when it is?”
“WHAT?” I said out loud, as if the thing could hear me. “It’s 7 PM. How can my room not be ready?”
But other than the people at the registration desk (those with dozens of folks waiting to speak with them), there was no one to talk to. I was dead in the water, my Corona farther from my grasp than a Caribbean breeze, when I noticed something off to the left — two service reps at counters reserved for high-rollers waiting for someone to assist.
I looked at the line of mortals waiting their turn in economy, I looked at the Black Diamond reps waiting for a customer to help and I decided to go for broke and give it a shot.
I walked right on up to Lou and, in a put-out voice, said; “Hey, I tried your kiosk and it says my room isn’t ready. It’s 7 PM. How can my room not be ready?” I didn’t offer anything about being a big-time customer one way or the other. I just waited.
I can’t honestly say I remember what Lou asked me for next — it was either my name or my license or something like that, but he looked me up in the computer, apologized, and gave me my room key all in about two minutes.
And with that, I went up to my room, got changed, and was down in the reception by 7:15. I’m guessing some of those folks on the main line hadn’t been helped by the time I left the reception around 8:30.
But if you think that making it to the opening party was the only benefit of being bold, you’d be wrong. Because, though I didn’t claim to be a member of the Black Diamond club, it appears Lou thought I was, setting me up in a room fit for a king — certainly the largest suite I’ve ever set foot in. I mean, I’m used to saying in a room, not rooms, so this was a real treat.
Being bold – being ready to ask for forgiveness rather than wait for permission – in this case worked. I’ve always tried to take this path. When I commuted in and out of NYC, I remember waiting for late buses at the end of the day. We would wait and wait and wait, but at some point, I figured the damn thing wasn’t coming, or maybe I was just sick of standing there feeling like an idiot. I knew that even if the bus came five minutes after I’d left to search out an alternate route, I wanted to be the kind of person who would leave when enough was enough. I wanted to be the kind of person who took action, took charge, and took a chance.
As far as the conference went, it was fantastic as usual, thanks in large part to the organizing and hosting savvy of Tony Ferrante, a healthcare IT legend in our neck of the country. For me, it was even better than most, as I’ve never had a shower with two heads before. Unfortunately now I don’t know how I’m going to live with only one.