Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Peabody Ducks
I am staying at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando. It is directly across the street from the Orlando convention center. It was chosen for its convenience not necessarily the decor, or in this case the "decoy". That will make you laugh later but read on.
The Peabody is famous for the March of the Ducks. I believe the event started many years ago when a row of ducks followed a bellman into the Peabody Hotel in Memphis,TN and jumped into the lobby fountain. Since it was the day before cable TV and in room porn, it caused quite a stir with the lodgers. Soon Mr. Peabody decided that having the ducks come in every day as an impromptu parade was a good idea.
Years later the duck has become the calling card mascot of the Peabody Hotels and although I don't know how many there are in the world today, at least this one in Orlando maintains the "duck parade" with fierce loyalty.
I have witnessed the event during other stays here at the hotel. At 11:00am every day velvet ropes line a red carpet path leading to a fountain in the middle of the lobby. At the precise hour a dedicated elevator opens to a Sousa march and a flock of ducks wattle through the lobby and into the fountain like high rollers at Ceasar's Palace. There they swim and quack like ducks of means. It is all very cute until the ducks reveal themselves to be actual ducks and begin to deficate on the marble floor of the hotel. There is a duck dung wrangler responsible for the erradication of such droppings, but no human can actually keep up with a duck's bowels. It is not very appetizing. If this was a Disney Hotel they would have animatronic ducks who would secrete pate and crackers for the audience to munch on with cocktails.
Like all good ideas, they eventually give way to the marketing department. The entire hotel is duck themed. Duck patterns in the carpet, duck pictures on the room keys, duck decoys for sale in the lobby and even the soap is shaped like a duck. The hotel sign is an arist rendition of a walking duck. Every painting in the rooms has to do with ducks. And yes there is a yellow rubber duckie for each and every tub. It makes you want to grab a shot gun and hide behind the artificial plants in the lobby with a dog named Buela and wait till noon.
With all this "duck-a-bellia" you would think that the staff would have a sence of humor about it. Not so, the duck is a sacred cow at the Peabody Hotel. Case in point.
I decided to have some lunch in the coffee shop of the hotel. A very nice young waitress with an embrodried duck on her blouse and her apron asked me what I would like. I pointed to the picture of the duck that dominates the menu and said, "I'll have one of those, crispy with orange sauce." Not a twitter crossed her face from the obvious knee slapper I had delivered with the professionalism of a comic. She looked at me as if I had spoken German and waited until I said, "Club Sandwich" to show any acknowledgement. I wanted to say, "And hold the duck" but I knew I had crossed a line.
The last straw had nothing to do with a duck, but points to the fact that if you do not have your ducks in perspective you can make some terrible decisions regarding hotel management. In the refrigerator I found two bottles of Evian water. I know that the water is not free. And from experience I know that the minibar charge is excessively stupid. However, in the case of water, I generally take one from the hotel stash at night, and the next day buy a bottle, for a third of the in room price, at the lobby sundries store and replace it. No one is the wiser and it has works at most every hotel I stay.
This time however, I noticed that the bottle of water fom the mini bar would not stand up straight on the night stand. I examined it to find that a magnetic sensor was attached to the bottom causing it to list at an odd angle. I could not determine if it would set off an alarm if I walked out the door with it, or if by removing it from the fridge it had just signaled the hotel staff that a thirsty sucker had just been caught. Nonetheless, I decided that if I was going to pay minibar prices for the water, it would have to sit up straight. I pulled the sensor off the bottom, and found to my amazement that it had been applied with a nail. A nail through the bottom of a plastic bottle of water.
It immediately sprang a leak that under the presssure shot half way across the room. The way I calculate it, almost a dollar and a half of this over priced water provided a not so pleasant dancing water effect onto the carpet. I could not stem the flow until I poured it into one of the very small in room drinking glasses. It required me to chug several mouth-fulls before I could pour the remainder into the tiny glass for more casual drinking. What next, will they count the tissues and charge me per-nose wipe?
As you were,


Aaron said...

The life you lead and the stories you tell!!!! Thanks for sharing!

Roomie said...

When are you going to write that book about you life and all the wonderful adventures and stories....we will buy one, for sure....we might even be mentioned...
Miss you,
Carry on,