Emergency Alert: Addition to Rudy’s Rules

June 16th, 2018

By now, if you have read Rudy’s Rules for Travel, you have undoubtedly decided whether you are more like fearless and impulsive Rudy or like me, cautious and careful Mary. Whether you are more Rudy or more Mary, you will want to know about a looming threat. Well, you might be more interested if you are more like me.  Here is a danger I neglected to include in the book, one far more widespread than even catastrophic thinkers would imagine. In a recent survey conducted in the checkout line of my local supermarket, three out of three customers reported an experience similar to this:

A short time ago, while staying at a hotel in Seattle, I was awakened at two a.m. in absolute darkness in my room, emergency sirens blaring, and a shrill voice over the intercom instructing guests to vacate the hotel immediately. Unfortunately, at the time I did not have a rule specific to this situation. My shoes, robe, purse, room key, umbrella, phone and flashlight were scattered across the dark room. Worse, I was wearing mismatched pajamas not fit for a social occasion.

I will not detail the trauma, describe my racing heart or the way my brain and legs froze in place, except to note I was luckily on the fourth–and not the fifteenth—floor, and that I had remembered how many doors down the hall my brother and his wife were staying.   My brother came to hold open my door, allowing a dim light from an “Exit” sign to shine into my room, enough illumination to find a few necessities.  As we made our way down the dark hall and entered stark stairwells with dozens of other evacuees, I thought of my readers. Hopefully they would be better prepared than I for such an emergency, at least better prepared than the couple wrapped only in their sheets.  I mean only in their sheets.

The new additions to the rules follow. They are best entered into the list of Mary’s Rules, pages 201-202 in your book, Rudy’s Rules for Travel.  I suggest you pencil them in.

  1. In making hotel reservations, ask for a lower floor and a room not distant from a stairwell.
  1. Entering your room, study it carefully, making a mental map of its layout.
  1. At bedtime, arrange essential possessions exactly where you would need them in the dark—walking shoes and socks where your feet will land as you leave your bed; robe or coat on a chair next to you; room key, purse, wallet, phone and flashlight on the bed stand, umbrella if you are in Seattle.

By the way, my cell phone came in handy that night. The “all clear” notice never did come.  I huddled under a portico with a hundred or more nightgown-clad hotel guests, dodging winds and rain.  Eventually, I used my phone to call the hotel desk.

“Is it safe to go indoors?”

“Yes, yes, of course. No emergency,” the desk clerk said. “Why are you still outside?”

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