Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Paging Mr. Smith....

Well, my future ex-girlfriend Random Girl has sweetly asked for me to begin a series.  I think she would rather have me IN a hotel, rather than write about them.  But I digress......

Not all touring is wonderful and full of awesomeness.  There are long, long drives through the middle of the night to get to the next show, or ‘gig’ as us professionals refer to the events where we make our pittance. Once, we drove from Boston, Mass to New Orleans.  That’s 32 hours of driving in a van full of gear.  We did it with 3 people, each of us switching off, so the others could get a cat nap before their next shift behind the wheel.  32 hours. In a van.  Smoking Marlboros, guzzling Mountain Dew, and choking down a handful of Sour Cream and Chive Pringles.  Pringles, by the way, are the perfect road snack.  They come in a resealable tube.  Your snack stays fresh and unsmashed.  You can also pour them into your mouth.  I kept them in the front cupholders, next to the Dew.
I'd use a fake name if I dressed like that, too

I’m way off track here.  Back on topic, which is how your mind wanders while driving. That's when the devious little games unfold..... 

We were midway through our New England run, which was about 2 weeks of college and small theater dates.  We were pulling into town to do a show at a little college.  If you’ve traveled to New England, you may have noticed that many people, are, how should I say, ‘uptight’?  They are conservative, and many (outside of Boston) seem to be lacking a great personality.  We piled out of the van, and headed for the lobby of our hotel.  We had been joking around (as usual) on our 5 hour drive, and when we got to the lobby, everyone just drops their bags on the floor and fills the burgundy floral easy chairs and Early American couches.  It’s actually a tactic taught to me by a very wise tour manager.  The front desk will do ANYTHING to get you out of their lobby as fast as they can when you’ve just set up an duffel obstacle course.  I put my metal briefcase up on the counter and wait for the young girl behind the desk to hang up the phone.  It seems she’s setting up her evening plans with her friends.  She smiles, gives me the “just a sec” one finger in the air thing, and I open my briefcase and unload a pile of paperwork onto the counter, looking for my reservation notes. (no, this was before we ALL had fully loaded smart phones.  Back in the stone ages, I guess.)  She hangs up, and asks, “Hello, sir, do you have reservations?”  
“No....Yes, of course we have reservations....”  
She looks confused, like she’s not sure if I meant Yes or No.  “The name?”  
“Smith. The reservation is under Smith.” 
She shuffles through the reservation cards that she’s pulled out on her counter. “Um, Sir, I’m not seeing a reservation here for Smith.” 
 I look over the counter and look over the strewn cards as she shifts them around on the counter.  “Oh, silly, there it is, right there.” 
“Which one?!?”  
“Yes, that’s the one.” 
“Sir, the name on that reservation is White, not Smith.”
“Well yes, it’s spelled White, but it’s pronounced Smith.  It’s a family pronunciation.”  I said completely deadpan. 
She’s stunned. Her mouth agape, but nary a word can be heard.  She blankly stares at me. I stare, with great conviction, right back at her.  “Um, okay, Mr. …. Smith.... 5 rooms, yes?”  
Yes, we have 5 rooms.” 
 I then proceed to sign the reservation card as Mr. Smith, and hand her the corporate credit card that belongs to the band.  It has the lead singer’s name on it, and now she’s completely lost.  Mr. White signs in as Mr. Smith, and hands her what appears to be a bogus credit card.  The band is getting fidgety.  After all, we’ve been in the lobby a whole 8 minutes. The bass player and the drummer are doing human beat box and rapping Straight Outta Compton over by the snack machines. 
 “Okay, whutever, here’s your room keys.”  
“Thank you very kindly, Miss.” 

And off to our rooms we went.  It’s not uncommon for musicians and people of a certain level of popularity to use a fake name when checking in to hotels and for dinner reservations.  We of course, didn’t have to worry about anyone finding us.  In fact, just the opposite!  We wanted people to find our hotel and bring us beer and pizza after the shows!!  Now of course my last name is White.  We just wanted to mess with her conservative little mind just a wee bit.  The corporate card was perfectly legal, and it’s commonplace for a band member to have one.  We paid, we rocked, we slept til noon, and as we checked out, our Little Miss was back at the counter.  I winked at her. “Goodbye, Mr. Smith, uh, White, um Smith.”  We laughed all the way to the next town.  The sun was shining as we left that little slice of New England behind us.  On to the next spot on the map and a new adventure.