Monday, December 12, 2011

Dangerous Deviations

America has always felt like an overly safe place. Not because everybody cares about everybody else, but because nobody wants to get sued. Whenever you walk by a potentially dangerous situation, you almost always say "Well, there's a lawsuit waiting to happen".

A lot of public, semi-public, ultra-public™, and privublic™ places have been constructed or altered to increase safeness in order to reduce the chances of the owners being sued. For example, cars now feature seat belts where they used to feature extremedeath™. At the top of 30 Rockefeller center, large modern glass walls have been installed to keep people from attempting to fly. Intersections in cities now feature traffic lights where they used to feature nothingness wherein many people crashed their petroleum distillate-driven automotive horseless carriages.

Well some places are just as dangerous as ever. For example, the Hyatt hotel in Austin Texas. I stayed there a few weeks ago and managed to get a room on the 11th floor. Check it out:

What you are looking at is a picture shot directly up in the zenith direction from the lobby restaurant. The hotel has a giant hollow center, the rooms are located around the perimeter. The first two floors of the building are the lobby, bar, restaurant and various conference rooms and ballrooms. The rest is open space. The 'hallways' on each floor have rooms on one side, and a ULTRADEATH™ drop on the other. You see, a fall from the 11th floor would be death to anyone who fell, (even me with my ultrastrength™ and superagility™, although my death-causing injuries would still be less severe than yours).

Walking to my room every night gave me vertigo. I couldn't believe how low the railings protecting the casual room-walker from the pit of doom on the other side were. How could the Hotel's insurance be okay with this? How has no one fallen yet? Why isn't there a protective glass inclosure with safety padding and warning signs? Maybe my being 6'6" made the railing seem lower than it does for average humans, or maybe the hotel is new enough that the worst hasn't happened yet. Who knows? (Probably somebody).

But aside from that, it was an excellent hotel. I booked a 'business package' which included free breakfast, free internet, and some other stuff that I forget. All the kinds of things I'd expect from a Hilton property as a VIP Gold member. This is probably the first or second time this year that I didn't stay at a Hilton hotel. The reasons being too complicated and businessy for you to understand, so I won't go into them. Rest assured I was concerned about it at first, especially since I was going to be there for 5 nights, which is a precious five nights that are NOT counted towards my Hilton Honors status next year (don't worry, I already made gold again, but that diamond status is calling my name). But I digress. The hotel was nice. The food was acceptable, the view of downtown Austin was excellent, the amenities were luxurious and clean, and the staff friendly. What really impressed me was the checking in and checking out process. Instead of slow, clumsy humans, they had computers. You walk up to a kiosk, check in, pick your room, agree to the price and it prints your room key and you're on your way.... unless you got the business package. For some reason, the system can't handle the concept of 'free'. So whenever you get breakfast or internet, you have to pay for it, then, the hotel's front desk removes the charge from your bill. Clumsy and inefficient, but suffice it to say that after checking out I didn't have any problems with erroneous charges on my bill.



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