Friday, October 4, 2013

Another Freebie

A guest at the Georgian hotel in Santa Monica wanted a housecall, said the desk clerk. She had a urine infection.

That was good news. The Georgian was not far, and urine infections are usually easy.

“The guest has gone to dinner,” the clerk added. “She’d like you to come at 9 o’clock.”

I hate it when hotels make an appointment without consulting me. I want to talk to guests before a visit. It’s surprising how often their self-diagnosis is wrong. They need to know how much I charge and that they’ll have to pay directly. Learning this, some guests reconsider. A few guests assume the doctor is in the hotel, so it’s no big deal if they’re late or decide to skip the consultation entirely. Finally, it’s stressful to kill time at home, hoping another call doesn’t arrive to complicate matters.

Sure enough, at 8:30, as I was about to leave, the phone rang. A guest at the Airport Hilton was vomiting. Vomiters don’t like to wait. There was no way to contact the Georgian guest to suggest a delay, but I decided I could make the visit and reach the Hilton in an hour. I hurried off.

Freeway traffic stopped cold at my exit. Santa Monica was holding an arts festival. The streets were jammed; the police were out in force directing traffic and manning barriers. After half an hour, I had advanced two blocks when I realized the beachfront, including the Georgian, was sealed off. Normally, I would park six blocks away and walk to the hotel, but this would make me outrageously late for the poor vomiter at the Hilton.

Guests usually agree to wait when I explain the problem.

“I just flew in from London. There’s no way I can stay awake,” said the Georgian guest, hearing that I’d like to return when traffic eased.

In the end, I phoned a prescription into a nearby pharmacy and made my way to the airport.

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