The phone woke me at 11 p.m. A guest at the Doubletree in Santa Monica wanted a doctor to examine his son’s ear.
I had dressed and was preparing to leave when the phone rang again.
“I’m really sorry,” said the guest. “The hotel called another doctor, and he’s on his way, so we have to cancel.” That was a shock. The Doubletree is one of my regulars.
I asked the doctor’s name. The guest wasn’t certain. What was his phone number? There was a long pause before the guest came on the line and gave a number. I know all my competitors, and this was unfamiliar. Was someone new poaching my hotels?
After hanging up, I googled the number. It was an urgent-care clinic. The clinic was closed at this hour, and no one answered when I phoned. It didn’t offer housecalls.
To my relief, I realized that the guest had simply changed his mind and wanted to cancel. He assumed that a blunt cancellation would upset me, so he invented an excuse and looked up a number on the internet – not realizing that his excuse was more upsetting.