Russian Roul-etiquette

Winter excavations are well underway at Chez Daisyfae. It is amazing what one finds when going through boxes that were hastily packed many years ago.  While digging through the storage room, i found a box containing the journals* i’d kept all through high school.  After a brief excursion down Painful Memory Lane, i put that box aside and kept plowing through.  A bit of a dark cloud amassed inside my head as i mulled over the words i’d written at the age of seventeen…

Moving on to a box full of old photographs and work memorabilia, i found a piece of paper that stopped me in my tracks.  i laughed so hard that i made the cat jump! The photo, from a hotel surveillance camera, carried me back to one of the goofiest things i’ve ever experienced.

Several years ago, i served as general chairman for a large international technical conference.  The conference would be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – a wonderful city.  We planned the conference for several years, and i worked very closely with event planning staff at the hotel – and we got along very well.

Expecting around 700 attendees, we knew that about a third would be from Europe and a third from Asia.  It was my goal to make sure that every single attendee had a grand time, and went home feeling good about their experience in this little river town.  We put together a solid technical and social program, and our evening events included a massive banquet held amid exhibits at the Carnegie Museum.

After that banquet, my major ‘hostess’ duties were done, and i could relax.  i relaxed by throwing a party in my room.  As chairman, i was given a two bedroom suite, with full kitchen, dining room and entertainment area.  We made the best of it!  My admin assistant and i had spent the Sunday before the conference making jello shots (“vodka jellies” to my friends in the UK).  We laid in enough booze, wine and beer to inebriate an army.  We’d brought food as well.

The party was “invite only”, but we still had about 200 people coming and going through the course of the evening. Teaching the art of the jello shot to the world! An international jam session started in one bedroom, when a senior German technologist grabbed my guitar and performed Leonard Cohen.  One colleague learned the hard lesson that one should never do vodka shots with a Russian – she drank him under the table, or under the toilet in this case.

My friends on the hotel staff knew about the party – they were invited.  The next day, one of the event planners found me at the conference headquarters room.

Stephanie:  Did you have a good time last night?

daisyfae: It was a throw down… We tried to manage the noise, and keep the guests contained.  Hope we didn’t cause any problems.

Stephanie [giggling]:  We caught one of your guys on camera at about 3am.  He came down to the front desk…

daisyfae:  What?

Stephanie: We had a guy show up at the desk wearing nothing but his glasses and underwear!  He’d locked himself out of his room.

daisyfae:  Are you shitting me?  Who was it?  Oh my god…

Stephanie [produces print outs from security camera]:  Here are pictures from the cameras.  He came to the desk, and was apparently pretty drunk.  The night attendant offered help, but she couldn’t understand what he was saying.  Finally, she just asked him ‘What is your room number, sir?’  He got agitated and kept saying “What is YOUR room number?”  She had some help from security, and they got him back in his room.  We just figured he had been at your party!

daisyfae [jaw on floor]:  Oh shit.  [staring at picture] i don’t recognize him – he wasn’t in my suite last night.  But i’m certain he’s with the conference.

My admin assistant, and a few of my friends, spent the rest of that day trying to figure out which guy at the conference was pictured in the photo.  We finally identified him – it wasn’t easy with his clothes on.  i tracked Stephanie down the next morning.

daisyfae:  Not only is he with the conference, but we comped his room!  He’s an invited speaker!  Be sure to tell your staff that he’s staying here for free!

What is YOUR room number

The next night, there was another party – this one hosted by a key industrial sponsor.  Chartered riverboats, Monte Carlo gaming, and another throw down for the conference attendees.

Hanging with our group was my friend, JP, who had also been helping us identify the Drunk Naked Russian from earlier in the week.  As we get back to the hotel, he realized that somewhere along the way, he’d lost his room key.  Stopping at the desk, he asked for another.

As the woman behind the desk asked for his room number, he recognized her as the desk clerk from the Night of the Drunk Naked Russian.  With the goofiest accent he could muster, he shot back “No!  What is YOUR room number!”


* Picked up the one on top, chronicling the summer after my 3rd year of high school. Read far enough through it that i decided i may need to burn these.  My escape from the Trailer Park was not a sure thing… i was reminded that it could have ended very badly for me.  

22 thoughts on “Russian Roul-etiquette

    • You had a few adventures along the way! i suspect that i will slow down a bit in time… This tale was more about being in the right place at the right time, with the right drunk locked out of his hotel room!

  1. Never in my underwear but when a jet setting world traveller I had a dumb habit of arriving at hotel, checking in, dumping luggage in room and… heading straight to bar. Few beers… oh look they sell that grey goose vodka… hello newist best friend of my life next to me at the bar… have another vodka… blahblah…. Right – time to sleep. Shit … what is my room number! In the end I had to text myself the room number as soon as I checked in to avoid this!

    • Ouch! During some of my heavy travel periods, months where i’d be on the road more than home, i’d get confused sometimes – even without a drink. All hotels start to look the same after a time, and i couldn’t remember if i was in 1837 this week, or was that last week?

    • That’s the conundrum… i may hang onto them a bit longer. If i do get around to pulling things together for a memoir, it might be useful to pull together timelines of events… Or not.

  2. That’s brilliant — and it’s fab that you’ve managed to get that cctv still.

    This (like Exile’s diary entries) is something that’ll be lost soon. Internet firms will go out of business, formats will become incompatible, people will accidentally delete their hard drives — but a written journal is there for as long as you keep it in your knicker drawer.

    • i was given a series of pictures, poor quality, printed out (and remember, this was about 10 years ago, so technology was primitive). They were very funny – including his initial appearance in the lobby, wearing socks (i’d forgotten that) and looking very lost… no idea where the rest of the photos went, but i was happy to have discovered this one!

      Have to agree with you about the written vs. digital word. Something more to consider as i figure out what i’m going to do with the blog as well. Retirement lurks, and pulling all of these ramblings into a memoir – even if only for myself and my spawn – is something i’m batting around. i’d have to learn proper punctuation, and all that first…

  3. Fantastic! Tighty whities in the lobby. Good on you for having the wherewithal to keep that pic, knowing you’d need it for a blog post later on down the road.

    I am constantly tormented over whether or not my journals should be used as kindling. Who needs that stuff read by the masses?! What you see on my blog is barely fit for public consumption. You should see what I can’t put out there!

    Was this fete thrown on the Government’s dime?

    • This was 10 years ago, a full three years before i started the blog. Believe me, it was a hoarder’s accident that i still had the damn thing. The journals? i’m a bit vexed. When i’m in the right frame of mind, i’m going in – looking for a few very specific things. Will see if the ramblings of my teen-aged mind provide me with any useful insights… They really are only for my benefit, and if i decide they’re not worth anything, i’ll likely burn them.

      Government’s dime? Are you serious? No way! Conference registration fees, corporate sponsors and sales of proceedings are what funds these ridiculous party events conferences. There’s a standing organization behind this one, like most others, that can eat a small loss, or spend any potential profit on the next event.

  4. What year was this? I’m sure i was out of the game by then or i would have been making a killing at that conference, haha… i almost had a gig in the library mail room at CMU or Camus as we say around these parts, i spent the better part of 16 years a mile or two yet a world away from that campus, best i stayed away from that conference or the attendees would have gotten the grand tour of the dives, hovels, third rate strip clubs and drug dens of the east end.

    • and you forgot to say “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania- a wonderful city and home to one of the most beautiful, charismatic and lovely men on the planet- Kono.” It’s okay though, i forgive you.

      • i almost mentioned that! Seriously! But my target word count for most posts is about 500, and this one was almost to 1,000 already. i should have edited a bit more ruthlessly… One of these days, i’m gonna come visit you – it’s only a 4 1/2 hour drive… and maybe 2 hours by plane if i get my buddy to come with me!

    • Ten years or go, give or take a year. We were at one of the big downtown hotels, near the river (not the really old one, so that leaves 2 possibilities unless they’ve built a new one). Walking distance to the Strip District, and a shuttle ride away from the incline. During one of the many planning trips, i did a fair bit of exploration in the neighborhoods, including near Pitt and CMU. Loved it!

      After the party in my suite, one of the attendees went out front to catch a cab back to his hotel. He was invited to share a cab with a lovely lady, wearing very little except 4″ stilettos… He declined after spotting her Adam’s apple! It was a great story…

  5. MY human really enjoyed the blog this time! He can attest to the not out-drinking Russians (or Ukrainians) cause he’s tried a few times. Never came close. He also wondered if you ever had any strangers end up in your room. He was in Madrid one time, had a good night’s sleep, but the next morning the unused bed in his room was occupied by a couple he never seen before. No clothes. Looked like they been involved in strenuous exercise. Unlike your situation, the front desk had no explanation. Lucky he spoke Espanol.

    • That’s a scary scene! i’ve not experienced that one – and can’t say i’d have been too happy about it! Yet another reason to learn a second language!

      i’ve not awakened to strangers in my room, but i have found a stray friend or two bunking in. This conference thing can be exhausting!

  6. Be kind to yourself about your journals, daisyfae. I think it’s great that you kept them this long. Sometimes I think I’d like to be able to visit my younger self and put my arm around her and tell her she’s terrific just as she is, to be true to herself and not worry about what “they” say.

    • i wish i could have that conversation with that kid that kept those journals…. i’ve almost tossed the things each time i’ve moved house, but i just can’t do it. At least not yet. It hurts to read those words, but it reminds me that i’ve been pretty damn fortunate to get off the path of self-destruction i was on… It is easy to forget that it was a close call on more than a few occasions…

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