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Hotel, shmotel -- I'll just shtay in the shtreet (Dave Barry Goes To NYC)
The Miami Herald ^ | 6-2-2002 | Dave Barry

Posted on 06/02/2002 8:10:42 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez

So we went to New York City for some urban excitement, which began when we saw our hotel. To avoid hurt feelings, I will call it by a made-up name, ''The Hotel Shpennsylvania.'' It's in midtown Shmanhattan, across the street from Shmadison Square Garden.

The Hotel Shpennsylvania was apparently built around the time that North America became a separate continent. I am told that, at one time, it was quite elegant. Of course, I am also told that, at one time, Elizabeth Taylor was a virgin.

Our first whiff of the Hotel Shpennsylvania experience came when we entered the lobby, which is furnished in a functional yet practical style, consisting of: a floor. There is more seating provided on the lunar surface than in the lobby of the Hotel Shpennsylvania. This leaves plenty of room to stand, which is what we did for quite a while, in a check-in line approximately the length of the Great Wall of China, but not moving as fast. If you have a loved one who mysteriously disappeared years ago and has not been heard from since, you should consider the possibility that this person is simply attempting to check in to the Hotel Shpennsylvania.

The good news was, we finally got a room. The bad news was, it was room 436. If you ever get a chance to stay in this room, I advise you to say: ''Thanks, but I'd prefer a Dumpster, if there's one available.'' I say this because room 436 is a very Spartan. I use the word ''Spartan'' not only in the sense of ''austere,'' but also in the sense of ``last renovated in 500 B.C.''

The walls, ceiling and floor appeared to be made of compressed grime; you got the feeling that if you took a damp cloth and started wiping the walls, you would wipe a hole right into the next room. These walls had no decoration of any kind, unless you count stains. One of the window shades had fallen down, revealing a sweeping panoramic view of: a wall. There were no chairs. There were two sad old beds with mattresses that felt like they were stuffed with dead squid, and a battered desk with a sign on it informing us -- I am not making this up -- that new furniture had been ordered for the room, but it had not arrived yet. This sign appeared to be several years old.

When you turned on the bathtub taps, what came out looked like some kind of weak soup. Maybe this was a hotel selling point (``All Rooms With Hot and Cold Running Broth!'').

Of course we should have marched down to the desk and demanded a new room, or even checked out. But we did not, for two solid reasons: (1) We didn't want to wait in the lobby line again, and (2) We are shmorons.

So instead we went out for the evening. Then, like characters in a bad horror movie who, against all common sense, go down into the dark basement, we returned to room 436.

We enjoyed a restful night until about 1 a.m., when the couple next door returned to their room. This couple was really hitting it off, if you know what I mean. I did not realize that it was physically possible for humans to hit it off that many times in one night. We could hear them clearly, because compressed grime does not block sound well, and they were hitting it off with intensity, passion, and what sounded like at least four head of cattle.

During those brief periods when the couple was resting, smoking cigarettes, watering the livestock, etc., we would listen to the people in the room on the other side, who apparently were in town for the International Convention of Loud Talkers With Insomnia. They were having a fine time, the kind of time when everything is so hilarious that everybody must repeat it at least four times.

A distinct aroma drifting through the grime made us wonder if they were using shmarijuana, but of course that would be illegal, even in New York. Whatever it was, it quieted them down for brief periods, during which the couple on the other side would rouse the steers again. Before we knew it, it was dawn.

Other than that, we had a fine time in New York, a truly great city with some of the world's best museums, theaters, restaurants and shopping. Some day we will go back and actually see these things. On this trip, we mainly napped. When we do go back, we won't stay at the Hotel Shpennsylvania. We'll stay somewhere farther from the ''heart of the action.'' Such as Shmontana.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Free Republic; Political Humor/Cartoons; US: Florida; US: New York
KEYWORDS: davebarry
Dave's nuts! There are no bad Hotels in NYC!
1 posted on 06/02/2002 8:10:42 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
What motel? I thought he was describing all of New Your City. There's not much difference.
2 posted on 06/02/2002 8:18:47 AM PDT by concerned about politics
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To: concerned about politics
"The Hotel Shpennsylvania was apparently built around the time that North America became a separate continent. I am told that, at one time, it was quite elegant. Of course, I am also told that, at one time, Elizabeth Taylor was a virgin."

I'm not sure which came first, the continental drift, or Liz losing her virginity.

She seemed quite fond of her co-star in "National Velvet".

3 posted on 06/02/2002 8:22:59 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Haven't laughed so hard in ages. This one goes to my e-mail buds... Thanks!
4 posted on 06/02/2002 8:24:34 AM PDT by demkicker
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To: demkicker
Dave's a great read when you're waiting for news of a nuclear war breaking out across the globe.
5 posted on 06/02/2002 8:27:09 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
I can't wait 'til Dave goes to Europe. But, then again, what did he expect for $90 a night in mid-town Manhattan?
6 posted on 06/02/2002 8:36:58 AM PDT by PUGACHEV
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Really.... If only the middle east had some Dave Barrys and a sense of humor.
7 posted on 06/02/2002 8:37:32 AM PDT by demkicker
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To: PUGACHEV
You're right, I seem to recall that it costs $90/night in mid-town Manhattan to be homeless.
8 posted on 06/02/2002 8:39:05 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
I go camping, I now where my sheets have been, I have a fire and kitchen area, and the views are always the best. Of course I live in Cali.
9 posted on 06/02/2002 8:43:34 AM PDT by bescobar
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To: Luis Gonzalez
I go camping, I know where my sheets have been, I have a fire and kitchen area, and the views are always the best. Of course I live in Cali.
10 posted on 06/02/2002 8:44:08 AM PDT by bescobar
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To: Luis Gonzalez
You're right, I seem to recall that it costs $90/night in mid-town Manhattan to be homeless.

That was pre-911. Nowadays, $90 a night will at least get you double occupancy on a steam grate.

11 posted on 06/02/2002 8:48:37 AM PDT by IronJack
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania: click
12 posted on 06/02/2002 8:54:57 AM PDT by July 4th
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To: Luis Gonzalez
I had a very similar room at the Chicago, Michigan Ave. Shmarriot. $140/night. There was a large convention going on and that was the only room our travel agency could find. I shudder to think of what a cheap room in the area would have been like.

The lobby-bar was very nice and I spent as much time there as possible.

13 posted on 06/02/2002 9:29:21 AM PDT by SC Swamp Fox
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To: Luis Gonzalez
I had a very similar room at the Chicago, Michigan Ave. Shmarriot. $140/night. There was a large convention going on and that was the only room our travel agency could find. I shudder to think of what a cheap room in the area would have been like.

The lobby-bar was very nice and I spent as much time there as possible.

14 posted on 06/02/2002 9:30:32 AM PDT by SC Swamp Fox
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To: bescobar
"Of course I live in Cali."

Isn't that sort of like living in New York, but with the ocean on the wrong side, and without Hillary and Schummer?

15 posted on 06/02/2002 11:06:55 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
The only time I have ever been to this hotel was to a comic-book convention, but I wonder why Barry, with his millions, did not go to the many, many, many beautiful old hotels here? The place is chockablock with them. They are legendary.
16 posted on 06/02/2002 11:18:57 AM PDT by firebrand
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To: firebrand
Barry may argue the "many millions" thing with you.

Well-off? No doubt.

Many millions? I don't think he's there yet.

17 posted on 06/02/2002 11:23:43 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
What about his books? I stand by my plural.
18 posted on 06/02/2002 11:31:07 AM PDT by firebrand
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To: Luis Gonzalez
When I was in New York, we stayed in a "Boutique" hotel on W. 49th St. Boutique is a euphamism for "incredibly small rooms with old fixtures." I am not lying when I tell you that the bed took up 95 percent of the room. there was about 1.5 feet between each side of the bed and the wall. Only one person could walk at a time. It was actually pretty funny.
19 posted on 06/02/2002 11:34:30 AM PDT by Hildy
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To: firebrand
Sadly, books of humor do not sell. Even a famous name like Dave Barry sells a fraction as many copies of his books as a crappy novelist like Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz. I wrote a book of humor a few years ago that was brought out by a top NY publisher. It took two years to write, got national publicity, was praised and profiled by everyone from "Inside Edition" to "Playboy," and I made exactly $4,250 off it, before taxes. I wish could afford to visit New York at all, much less stay in a palatial $90-a-night hotel like the Pennsylvania.
20 posted on 06/02/2002 12:11:48 PM PDT by HHFi
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To: July 4th
The lobby looks like the United check in at DIA.
21 posted on 06/02/2002 12:14:45 PM PDT by Betty Jane
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To: PUGACHEV
I guess you missed the ones where he went to Asia. Hilarious! He also introduced me to Chinese lager. I would have never known the refeshment of a Tsing Tao otherwise.
22 posted on 06/02/2002 12:19:03 PM PDT by stands2reason
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To: firebrand
Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy...millions.

Dave Barry...not millions.

23 posted on 06/02/2002 1:20:20 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Sunday evening bump!
24 posted on 06/02/2002 4:00:51 PM PDT by demkicker
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To: stands2reason
Tsing Tao is great beer. I've read that the original Tsing Tao brewery was buit by the Germans when they occupied that part of China as their sphere of influence in the 19th century.
25 posted on 06/02/2002 6:42:05 PM PDT by PUGACHEV
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To: July 4th
I've actually stayed at the Hotel Pennsylvania. It's right across the street (literally) from Penn Station; if you can tolerate fleabags it's not so bad. And, OMG, it's no where near as bad as the Hotel Pennsylvania in Mexico City -- I wouldn't stay there if they paid me to.

There is one odd thing (among other odd things) about the place: the door to the rooms have two curious smaller doors in the middle, one on the outside and one on the inside. Between these inner doors is a cavity about 8" wide. I really have no idea what the function of these doors are. It must be some strange artifact from a past age. The only thing I can think of is perhaps it was a place for overnight laundry, shirts and etc., to be delivered and hung as the guest slept. Has anyone seen this sort of thing before? Is my guess correct?

26 posted on 06/02/2002 7:02:12 PM PDT by PUGACHEV
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To: concerned about politics
What motel? I thought he was describing all of New Your City. There's not much difference.

I second your observation. I visited Manhattan and the New York City area once. And once was enough for me to determine that I never want to return there voluntarily. The entire city was a grimy cesspool. No museum, no attraction, no anything was worth the visit. I mean, I will never ever go there again unless I'm forced at gunpoint

27 posted on 06/02/2002 7:15:23 PM PDT by Spiff
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To: PUGACHEV
There is one odd thing (among other odd things) about the place: the door to the rooms have two curious smaller doors in the middle, one on the outside and one on the inside. Between these inner doors is a cavity about 8" wide. I really have no idea what the function of these doors are. It must be some strange artifact from a past age. The only thing I can think of is perhaps it was a place for overnight laundry, shirts and etc., to be delivered and hung as the guest slept. Has anyone seen this sort of thing before? Is my guess correct?

Your guess is correct. I've heard that in the old days you could even call and have things picked up (from the door closet) for pressing and they would be returned to the door closet in just an hour or so, while you waited.

28 posted on 06/02/2002 10:50:29 PM PDT by Mugwumps
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To: firebrand
Books and newspaper columns.

TV Pays money. Newpapers and Books make unemployment insurance look like a big raise.

If he is very lucky his books pay him about 4 bucks a copy and he has sold a few hundred thousand. But like recording contracts the book deals are in the details. Pubishing companies have little items in the contract that charge things against the royalties. It may say four bucks but it ends up being a lot less.

If you want to make money on a book you have to be big enough so they know your first book will be a success. Then you can negotiate a contract that makes you big bucks. Rush for instance made a couple of million on his two books.

But I doubt if Barry got a very good deal. I doubt very much that he is even close to being rich.

If you want to be rich in the media, get a major Radio or Tv show and make it a hit. Then you can negotiate the second contract for big bucks. Larry King worked for many years on his first contract with CNN for 50 grand a year. That is what Ted Turner offered a 35 grand a year Mutual radio talk show host and that is what Larry took. He was tickled pink to get a long term 50 grand deal.

Larry's last renewal was for about 8 million a year. But Barry is not within 30,000 miles of where Larry King is.

Pubishiers sign people to long deals small bucks and not much else but the fame. The woman that created and wrote the origianl Nancy Drew books just passed away. She was paid a total of one hundred twenty five dollars for each book she authored. And that was it. She wrote 7 books and earned a total of less than a grand. Her books earned the publisher millions. She got less than a grand ... total for 7 hit books.

In the movies, reporters, columnists and authors make big bucks. But in real life....... .

29 posted on 06/03/2002 1:37:51 PM PDT by Common Tator
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To: July 4th; Luis Gonzalez
"Our first whiff of the Hotel Shpennsylvania experience came when we entered the lobby, which is furnished in a functional yet practical style, consisting of: a floor. There is more seating provided on the lunar surface than in the lobby of the Hotel Shpennsylvania. This leaves plenty of room to stand,...."

Thanks, July 4th, for the link to the lobby. Looks like Dave's description of the lobby is dead on. Weird that there is NO sofas or chairs!

Thanks to you again, Luis, I've had fun with this story today at my office. It gave everyone a chuckle.
30 posted on 06/03/2002 3:28:21 PM PDT by demkicker
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To: July 4th
Lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania: click

Odd that their virtual tour doesn't extend to Room 436....

-archy-/-

31 posted on 06/04/2002 3:19:02 PM PDT by archy
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Dave's lucky! My daughter and I took our "in your face Bin Ladin" trip to New York in November. The lobby was full of people with reservations and no place to stay. Overbooked! The play for which we had tickets began in an hour, so we dressed in the corridor and small restroom, stored our luggage and went to see "Hedda Gabbler". When the play was over, my daughter called the travel agency with which she'd made reservations and let them know she and her elderly mother were on the streets of Manhattan at midnight with no place to stay! Bit of an exaggeration, but they got the hotel to make arrangements for us at another location. We returned to the more convenient area the next day and enjoyed the rest of our trip. It was more fun laughing about staying in the shtreet than to actually have to do it! My guess is that Dave got a good laugh out of his room, too.
32 posted on 06/04/2002 6:00:33 PM PDT by windchime
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To: firebrand
I wonder why Barry, with his millions, did not go to the many, many, many beautiful old hotels here?

Because he wouldn't have had anything to write about.

33 posted on 06/04/2002 6:23:08 PM PDT by Squawk 8888
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To: HHFi
It took two years to write, got national publicity, was praised and profiled by everyone from "Inside Edition" to "Playboy,"

Don't keep us in suspense- we Freepers need to support each other!

34 posted on 06/04/2002 6:29:16 PM PDT by Squawk 8888
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Better than the hotel room at one of the Ambassador East or West,( I can't remember).....my brother -in-law and his wife went to pull the covers and get in bed only to realize someone had been there before. A used condom was between the sheets......eeewwwwwwwww....yuck!!!!!!!
35 posted on 06/04/2002 6:34:18 PM PDT by MadelineZapeezda
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To: Luis Gonzalez
If Dave's ever stuck for a column, he ought to stay in The Madison House over in Atlantic City. Their website promises a delightful experience, but the reality makes the Hotel Shpennsylvania look like the Taj Majal! My mom and I spent a weekend there about 3 years ago, and it was a disaster from the getgo. When we arrived at around 8:30 pm, there was no one to help us with our luggage -- we had to bring it up ourselves. The staff at the front desk were rude and snippy, not to mention spectacularly ill-informed. First the checkout time was 11 am, then it was 11:30, and then it was 11 again. Then they neglected to tell us that there was a $20 surcharge for use of the phone, and when I couldn't get a call through and went downstairs to find out why, they acted as if I should have known this all along. The bedspread had bloodstains on it, and the windows looked as if they had last been cleaned around the time James Madison himself was alive. The TV remote was fastened to the night table with the same kind of cord you see on bank pens. The AC was only operating at about 50% strength -- this, during a July weekend when temperatures were close to 100 degrees! And as a final indignity, the room didn't even have a clock! (Come to think of it, maybe there was one and the previous occupants stole it, LOL!) I brought all these complaints to management's attention, along with my assurance that I would never darken their door again, but all I got was a standard "We're sorry you were displeased, we hope you'll try us again." These days I stay at Caesars, and I'm much happier.
36 posted on 06/04/2002 10:48:06 PM PDT by Rainbow Rising
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To: Luis Gonzalez
OMG!!! I'm crying from laughing!
37 posted on 06/04/2002 11:12:52 PM PDT by Aria
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To: Squawk 8888
Sadly, it's currently out of print. But I'm self-publishing another one that I should have back in about a week. If I can figure out a way to disguise a blatant plug as Breaking News, you'll all definitely hear about it.
38 posted on 06/05/2002 5:11:34 PM PDT by HHFi
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To: July 4th
Thanks for the virtual tour of Hotel PA. It gives new meaning to the term, "drag your mouse."

I actually stayed there several years ago when I attended a convention located there. After checking into my broomcloset, I went down and asked to be moved to a newer room. I was informed that I DID have one of the newly decorated rooms. It at least was clean, but the double bed was wall-to-wall and the plumbing was probably heisted from an old Roman viaduct.

39 posted on 06/05/2002 5:23:04 PM PDT by PoisedWoman
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Hey Luis, I could tell you plenty of stories about hotels in Schmiami.
40 posted on 06/05/2002 5:29:06 PM PDT by PoisedWoman
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To: Luis Gonzalez
PENNSYLVANIA SIX - FIVE - OH - OH - OH

During the 1930s and later, it was common for telephone prefix numbers to use the first two letters of a name. The song title was the telephone number of the Hotel Pennsylvania , at 7th and 33rd in New York City, which served as Glenn Miller's home base during his many month tenure at the hotel's Cafe Rouge beginning January 1940. The hotel was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, across the street, to go with the Pennsylvania Station ("You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four..." from "Chattanooga Choo-Choo"). In recent years, the hotel was the Statler Hilton but has re-emerged, once again, as the Hotel Pennsylvania. Through all the years, the phone number has remained the same -- 736-5000 or PE 6-5000.

41 posted on 06/05/2002 5:31:00 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
I remember our phone book in the early 1960s having lettered prefixes... DS3-8367 ...I think I still have the phone with number plate from the center dial with that number on it. Back when Western Bell rented/leased the phones to people (homeowners didn't buy in those days) they made them virtually indestructible.
42 posted on 06/05/2002 6:00:20 PM PDT by Zon
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To: Zon
[W]hen Western Bell rented/leased the phones to people (homeowners didn't buy in those days) they made them virtually indestructible.

Guy at work used to work for the FCC regulating Ma Bell until the break up. He explained that under the law, Ma Bell could realize a fixed profit rate on capital, including home installed handsets. Repair calls were charged against operating expenses, on which profits were subject to FCC review to determine whether or not costs were justified, prudent and necessary. And repair calls resulted in a dissatified customer who would clamor for more laws unfavorable to AT&T. So from the phone company's POV the logistics trade (repair v. initial cost) was a no brainer.

When my father-in-law gave up his house a few years ago we found out he was still renting his phones from AT&T! (About 50¢ a month, not a bad ROI for ~$10.00 twenty+ years ago.) - Over the years we've bought him at least two phones - I called up AT&T to return their equipment. I had to drive 20 miles to an office that did FEDEX, mail drops and had a couple of dumpsters filled with phones. They took back the touch-tone phones, and made me fill out some forms. They weren't interested in the rotary-dial "Black Beauty" sitting on the desk next to me. Makes a real authentic telephone ring, the dial works, has a ringer equivalence of 1.0 and serves as a contingency cudgel.

43 posted on 06/05/2002 6:31:26 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

So from the phone company's POV the logistics trade (repair v. initial cost) was a no brainer.

Smart move.

Side note: The computer processing power that cost a million dollars twenty years ago costs less than $500 today. Had the government regulated the computer industry as they have virtually every other industry it would probably cost well over a thousand dollars if not two, three or five thousand.

They weren't interested in the rotary-dial "Black Beauty"

If it's the one I'm thinking of, my grandmother had one of those.

and serves as a contingency cudgel.

LOL!!!

I member dropping the handset on my big toe and nearly broke it -- my toe that its.

I've never been a collector, but have thought that if I did, I'd collect phones from different eras.

 

44 posted on 06/05/2002 7:03:13 PM PDT by Zon
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To: PoisedWoman
OK, I got one from a hotel in Ft. Schlauderdale.

I do business with this joint, it's not a fleebag, but well on its way.

An elderly gentleman checked in and paid for a three-day stay with his credit card, he didn't check out on his scheduled date. The asst. manager went to check on the room, and saw that there was a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, and through a crack in those heavy hotel drapes, he could see the guy sleeping in bed, so he left.

Three days later, they finally opened the door, and you guessed it, the old guy had been dead for days. The air conditioning was blasting and there was no bad odor yet.

The hotel contacted the cops, who took the body away. I was sitting with the manager the day after (I had already been told the story) when the asst. manager called him to inquire how post the loss of revenue for the three days that the guy was dead in the room. The manager yelled at him, and told him that there was no loss, just to charge the guy's credit card for the extra days he occupied the room.

45 posted on 06/05/2002 8:18:04 PM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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