Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hello, My Name Is Christine and I Am an American

I don't generally think of myself as an American. I don't have a love affair with my gas-guzzling oversized car or consider fast food "dinner" or spend the majority of my free time in front of the television (although I do have my share of televised guilty pleasures). If you detect a slightly superior tone in even this short list, you're on the right track; I generally, I'm afraid, hold myself a bit above my native culture.

My recent trip to Portland for a Vasa convention took some of the wind out of those snobbish sails. I'd booked a room in the convention hotel, the Portland Airport Sheraton, which is--it almost goes without saying--the sort of place I usually eschew in favor of a hostel or B & B.

At first, I was satisfyingly out of step with my surroundings. I took the train from Seattle to Portland and dragged my backpack and old-fashioned un-wheeled garment bag up to James' office. James and I went to lunch at a great sidewalk schnitzel joint, after which I retrieved my bags and took the lightrail out to the airport, where I picked up the free shuttle to the hotel. I took great delight in answering my fellow conventiongoers' queries about traffic with, "Oh, I took the train."

And, of course, the hotel was every bit as dismally pretentious as I'd hoped it would be. My room featured a flat-screen TV and a grand view of the parking lot. A vinyl folder on the desk detailed, in several tabbed sections, the various additional comforts that could be mine for a slight addition to the bill. I was quietly glorying in the horror of it when I noticed the power strip.

Now, for the first time ever, my packing list for this trip had included a section entitled "Electronics," which read in part

laptop charger
phone charger
palm pilot
palm charger
battery charger
mp3 player
USB cable

As I put together the list, I'd actually thought, "Perhaps I should bring a power strip." I hadn't--but in this one particular the Sheraton had anticipated my needs. Before long, I had my laptop, phone, and palm all happily plugged in side by side, and my mp3 player plugged in to a USB port on the laptop. It was just like home, only better...and that was before I discovered I could use the free wi-fi to watch streaming video via my Netflix account.

I was deeply reassured to find I liked the B & B I'd booked for my last night in Portland better, despite the lack of power strips and the inferior wi-fi service. If you ever need a place to stay in Portland, I highly recommend Portland's White House. It's lovely and on a bus line!

No comments: