Austin memories (2)

Friday night: Never go into room 331

I don’t sleep well my first night in a strange bed.  It doesn’t seem to matter how comfortable or strange that bed happens to be, nor how tired I am.  (This was an especially large problem the two times I had to go on television.)  So my not getting into the bed properly until 11:30, while probably not a great idea given the long Saturday I was facing, wasn’t really that big a deal because I was likely not sleeping much anyway.

But what really didn’t help was the people trying to get into the room.

I kept hearing noises in the hallway from someone who was having trouble opening their hotel room door, and it took a while before I realized I was actually hearing someone attempting to open my door.  (Kids, always deadbolt the door.  It deactivates the key card reader.)  This went on for several minutes, then stopped, then started again, and eventually I went to the door and peered through the peephole to confirm that yes, there was someone there, and they wanted my room.

I called the front desk, but nobody answered.  This was likely because one of the people in the hallway was the guy from the front desk, who couldn’t figure out why the room door key wasn’t working.

But they went away.  And then ten minutes later maintenance arrived.  I expect all he was told was that someone in room 331 was having a problem with the door lock, and with nobody in the hallway he did what most people would do– and what nobody else had tried so far– and knocked on the door.

When I explained to him that the lock on the door worked perfectly, it’s just that there’s already a person in the room, he went away.

Ten minutes later the phone rang.

“Hi this is the front desk.  I have a funny little problem.  I just assigned that room, and I was wondering who you might be.”

I was probably not getting any sleep anyway, but the following day when people asked why I looked so tired, this was the reason I gave.

Saturday: Texans buy books once a year

Okay, so you know, the Texas Book Festival is insanely crowded because apparently this is when Texas comes out and buys their books.  Some very quick observations:

  • If you name your publishing house The Writer’s Coffee Shop people will come, but they will be expecting there to be coffee
  • “This is the company that first published Fifty Shades of Grey” is a surprisingly effective way to get people to walk away from you
  • Every fifth person in the world has an idea for a book, and they’d like to talk about it
  • Actually overheard: “So, what’s the difference between fiction and non-fiction? I’ve always wondered.”
  • Successful ways to get people to come to your table include shouting “I am an author, don’t be afraid!  Come closer!
  • When you are the only existing evidence that a publishing house also publishes books by men you always have to be ready for someone to point at you from across a crowded tent

Red shirts and stripping

Each of us was issued a red polo shirt to be worn on Saturday with the name of the company on the front and the “The publisher that dared to go there…” on the back.  And even though it was clearly a woman’s shirt (the buttons were backwards) I dutifully wore mine along with everyone else, guaranteeing that if the Klingons attacked we would all die before the commercial break.

We were also informed that it would not be necessary to wear the shirts again on Sunday, which is only reasonable given none of us would have the opportunity to launder them.  The cowboys sitting at the table next to us overheard part of this, which is how I ended up agreeing to go topless for a bunch of Texans who were suddenly extremely regretful about having made such a suggestion in the first place.

Hey, I’ll take one for the team.


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