Band on the Run: No Silver Spoon, Just Stainless Steel Please!

Ember Swift, Canadian musician and touring performer, will be keeping us up-to-date on what it’s like to tour a band throughout North America. Having just arrived back from Beijing where she spent three months (check out her “Canadian in Beijing” series), she offers a musician’s perspective on road life. Enjoy!

My roommate Elaine is awesome. She’s from Calgary, AB and a friend of my sister’s who also came to this wedding on her own. She and I are sharing a room because these rooms are unbelievably overpriced, as is the way with most resorts. We also know each other from the number of times that my band and I have passed through Calgary on tour across Western Canada (and she’s been a great support of my music for several years) so, at least we had a bit of background before we had to share this space for several days.

Elaine has these big blue eyes the colour of the ocean and a bright wide smile. She is one of those people who has no problem being blunt and direct – telling it like it is – and she has been amazing to spend time with here. She makes me laugh regularly. I had forgotten how funny she is and the extra flash of entertainment has made the world of difference to me here.

Having a bit of company (who I’m not related to) hasn’t hurt either.

This morning, I called up room service to request a spoon. I had been grocery shopping yesterday to offset the price of food (and absence of vegan options) and so I wanted to eat my cereal here in my room, just quietly bringing in the day with the ocean (and Elaine) as my witness. Lo and behold, there was no cutlery in the room and so I called room service and requested they bring me up a spoon to use.

The guy arrived a few minutes later with a paper napkin wrapped around four plastic spoons.

I took the spoons without a comment and the guy left, but Elaine took one look at the spoons when I had unwrapped them and said “Oh no. That’s insulting. What are we in prison here? They can’t bring us up real spoons!?” She got on the phone to room service and said, quite plainly, “Excuse me, I’m paying good money for this room and you could only bring me a disposable spoon? I’ll be needing a metal one. Thank you.” Two minutes later there was another knock on the door and four metal spoons arrived (we didn’t need four of them, but that’s okay) and they were wrapped in a cloth napkin this time.

Go Elaine!

I mean, we weren’t asking for a silver spoon, just one made out of stainless steel.

So, I ate my cereal with a bit of class – which, in my case, is “working class” and that’s just fine with me.

Another example of how I simply don’t fit in here is that yesterday, after my run, my running pants were wet because I had put them back on after my impromptu jump in the ocean in my underwear. When I got back to the room, I hung up my wet things on the railing and went about my day. When I returned to the room several hours later, the light on my phone was flashing indicating that I had a message.

The message was from the front desk. It said, “Excuse me Ms.Swift, can you please remove the clothing from the railing of your room. It’s a safety hazard.”

Really? What kind of safety is it threatening? There’s an awning under the balconies that covers the dining area, so the potential of falling clothing harming someone is absent. Besides, I actually tied them onto the railing in case the wind picked them up.

Perhaps it’s threatening the safety of having a set of balconies look pristine to all of the beach walkers and ensuring regular bookings at these resort rooms? Or, the safety of having each balcony look alike and unmarred by running gear, thus offsetting the consistent (read: conformist) “look” of the resort? Hhmm, other than those safety issues, I could think of no others.

I laughed out loud when I got the message. I went to check on the clothes that weren’t quite dry and so I left them up for another half hour before bringing them down.

Safety hazard, my ass.

The final and biggest insult here at this hotel was at the moment I checked in. The woman at the front desk told me that they no longer had any rooms available with two double beds and would we mind sharing a king-size bed or else having them roll in a cot for one of us to use? I was shocked. These rooms are listed between $350 and $1250 each and even though we got them through a wholesaler at $240 each, they’re still WAY overpriced in my opinion. We’re splitting it and even then, I don’t generally spend $120 on myself for a place to sleep!

My response to the front desk clerk was a calm and straightforward, “Uhm, no, not at this price! How about you just give us two separate rooms for no extra charge. I’m sure that’s possible.” She looked at me shocked and stammered, “Oh, no, we can’t do that, ma’am. Let me get my manager.”

The manager arrived and I smiled at her and introduced myself. I told her the situation, paused, leaned on the counter and put my head in my hand. I said, “I’ve got all the time in the world, so I’m sure you can figure this out. I’ll just hang out here until one becomes available.” The manager shook my hand, smiled back at me with clear eyes and then bent her heard and pushed some keys in the computer without a word. She then whispered something to her employee, turned and left.

Moments later I had my keys to this ocean front room that is listed at $1250 (robbery prices!) and definitely has two double beds in it. They obviously did have some available, just not in my original price range. Oh, the bureaucracy.

Did I just get a free upgrade? No complaints, of course.

When I told Elaine that story, she laughed with her whole body. It was at that point that I knew we’d have a great time together.

Eating off real metal spoons and staring at the ocean through the clothesline that doubles as our balcony railing.

In Maui, Hawaii.