“This is the Vail Police dispatch office. We just received a 911 call from one of your guests……….”
It was Tuesday if my mind serves me correctly. We are in full swing at the Antlers. Guests have arrived from all corners of the planet and there is a festive mood as the holidays are upon us. The CME vans are pulling into the courtyard and dropping luggage wherever they can find a place to put it. Parents are unfolding themselves from the vans and some have that look of stupefaction that stems from the 16 hours of travel to get here. There are the usual greetings from the front desk “cool kids” as they help with luggage and get our travelers situated. The children immediately run to make snowballs and start tossing them at the cool kids. Mark takes one in the cheek and says not a word. Happy, Happy, Happy.
This is pretty much the order of the days this time of year. Check-ins, check-outs, answer a lot of question with regard to restaurants, lift tickets and ski school inquiries. The Engineering department will get calls to fix TVs and DVD players that are not broken, fireplaces that will not light and rooms that are too cold. It is the usual kind of thing that we handle in a typical 18 hour day. We have pride in ourselves and always remain professional even though it can get a bit repetitive. It’s what happens after the 18 hours, between midnight and 6:00AM, that gets interesting and certainly not routine.
I was the on call manager this particular evening. As long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve never been totally at ease when I finally do fall asleep. Kind of like “sleeping with one eye open”. I’m always thinking in a comatose state “Will there be a pool fire tonight or a noise disturbance that is unexplained after investigation? Late check-ins are always common.” Nonetheless, if I am woken up in the middle of the night, it’s nearly impossible to fall back asleep.
I have a phone in Unit 101 that belongs in the Smithsonian when I retire it. The ring tone is unique and LOUD and it has never failed to make me leap from bed when it is activated. There was a ting-a-ling at 3:00am this particular morning and the Police Dispatcher explained the call. “A guest from another unit just dialed 911 and apparently there is someone locked out on their balcony. He is yelling for help. I have sent an officer to the Antlers to investigate.” The challenge was in front of me. I will beat the officer to the punch and rescue the guest before the officer gets here.
I threw on some boots, and a jacket over my pajamas. There was no time for make-up…. a guest needed to be rescued from the 10 degree temps. I hustled to the back of the building along the bike path and sheepishly started to yell up to the balconies above me. “Hello. Is there anybody up there? Hello. Can you hear me? Hello.”
Finally there was a response to my bellows in the dark. “Dude. I’m over here and I’m freezing my …. off. There’s something wrong with this door. It doesn’t open.” He was only a few floors up and I assured him that help was on it’s way. I hustled to the 3rd floor to consummate the rescue.
I entered the unit within a minute or two and thought it was peculiar that all the lights were on, the TV was on and 3 digits past earsplitting, and something was cooking on the stove. I thought to myself. “This guy works nights or he has some serious jet lag going on.”
I noticed immediately the cute, little pooch in the Antlers condominium. He didn’t come running over and greet me as an intruder with a snarl or a bark. He was sitting directly in front of the sliding glass door, his tail wagging back and forth. He turned only his head around and said “Are you here to save my Master?” I answered “Yes” and opened the locked door.
“Ohhhh thanks dude. How does this door work anyway?” he asked me. I showed him and said “If that’s it, I’m going back to bed.”
He said “Thanks again dude. I’m going to eat my dinner.”
I didn’t want to have a puzzled look on my face but I know I did.
The police officer showed up just as I was leaving and asked me “Is everything under control?”
“Routine….almost. Thanks for coming by. I’m going back to bed.”
That reminds me of the time a few years ago when we were hosting the annual CACI board retreat, as we do each September. Christine Schlagor, who was then the Colorado Managing Director for Quest Diagnostics, is an attractive, early-fifties, very sophisticated, professional business woman. My experience serving with her on the CACI board is such that it’s hard to imagine her wearing anything but a nice business suit and high heels. Christine had been at the afternoon meeting on Thursday, as well as the evening festivities, but was curiously absent at the Friday morning session. That is, until she showed up about thirty minutes late. A gap in the meeting conversation allowed her to share the story that she had stepped out on the balcony (second floor in this case) and had been similarly locked out. After ten or fifteen minutes of hoping someone would wander by on the bikepath, she took matters into her own hands and climbed over the railing, hung off the edge of the deck and then dropped the five or six feet to the ground below. I believe she had slipped off the heels and performed her acrobatics barefoot.
Needless to say, as her host I was thoroughly embarrassed that she had been forced to undergo the experience. Fortunately, she was typically gracious about it. No hard feelings. Best of all, for the next year or two she became frequently and affectionately referred to by the other board members as “MacGyver”.