Well, that was an odd evening last night.
I'm staying at quaint hotel in Evanston called The Homestead. It's not a crisp, up-to-date place, but a bit "frayed" is the best description I can make. To be clear, it's very well maintained, clean and in good shape. But it was built in 1927 (I think it has some local historic designation) and feels that way in its amenities. There's a radiator in the bathroom, for instance. The room is small. When the door is closed, it's not "tight," but light comes in the cracks. The front door is locked at 11 PM, and you have to dial a number to reach an on-site maintenance person if you haven't checked in yet. (If you have, you get a front door key.) And yes, you get keys, not electronic cards. But the whole place is wonderfully quaint and has its share of charm. And they suites, and refrigerators, so it's all very pleasant. There's also a well-regarded restaurant here, and they include a nice, lowkey breakfast buffet. Definitely not for people who prefer a modern hotel with frills, but I'm happy to be here. The lobby area is extremely lovely, the rooms not as much, but fine. I suspect if they had a lot of money they'd do a bit of upgrading of the carpets and some of the comforts, but they clearly don't have those high-end resources.
Though last night was different. Not the hotel's fault, mind you. But at 11:30, as I was in bed, reading and watching the news...the fire alarm went off. When I stepped into the hallway, a women across the way sheepishly said there wasn't a problem, not reason to leave, but it was her fault, she'd lit a match. It turned out not to have been her fault, just bad timing making her think it was. Happily, I chose not to rely on her word -- hey, I figured if she was wrong, it was far better to be safe, and it helped in the decision that the alarm was Really Loud. So, I dressed, put my computer in my briefcase, got my coat and walked downstairs. (Again happily, I was only on the fifth floor, though there are only eight floors.)
Half the guests were in the lobby, where it was warmer, but I figured that as long as I was downstairs because of a possible fire, it was best to go outside, though it was in the 20s. Eventually, I saw my "neighbor" there who was still sheepish but about having wrongly told me it was her fault. She'd spoken to the front desk to apologize, but they said that that wasn't the issue, there's been something on the eighth floor. So, she was thoroughly relieved.
What the problem was, we still have no idea. But clearly it was minor. A couple fire trucks showed up, and a police car, but we were let in after about 10 minutes. A lot of people were waiting at the elevator (a wonderful, old creature with push buttons, not those new-fangled heat sensors), so I figured it would be slow going with a lot of stops -- whenever it showed up, so my neighbor and I walked back up to the fifth floor. (She was in town, staying at the hotel for the semester because she was teaching an art course at Northwestern, which is about two blocks away. She appreciated that I was wearing my Northwestern cap...)
But in the end, all was well. And then he slept...
And yes, the elves back taking care of the homestead appreciate that I'm staying at The Homestead and find it all amusing. And make clear that they've never set their homestead on fire. Yet.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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