The doors opened, and Tracey and I stepped into the lift for our 19 floor decent.
“Excuse me. Sorry,” I said to a lady dressed as an Italian widow, who stood ashen-faced and statue-like as I manoeuvred in with our luggage.
It would be impossible for anyone to tell from what I was carrying we’d only come for the one night, primarily because we’d both come with our entire wardrobe. Literally, as our ‘wardrobe’ on the bus is a sports bag each, and we both just grabbed ours on the way out the door.
On the floor below ours a staff member of the establishment (which happens to share a moniker with a tip bird) popped in before leaving us several more floors down.
The Italian widow, who was apparently joining us for the entire ride, still hadn’t made any sort of movement. Glaring straight ahead, the daggers her eyes were throwing strongly suggested the lift doors themselves were in her bad books.
“How about last night?” I asked her, because I was in a good mood thinking about all the bacon I was about to eat and if more people got on and off I figured we were stuck with each other for a bit.
Quick as a flash she spun her head and those daggers were being flung at me.
“That band!” she erupted.
For a second I thought she must actually be foreign and had just told me to mind my own business in a language other than English and specifically other than the twelve accents I’m somewhat fluent in understanding. But she went on.
“I called the front desk to complain but they couldn’t do anything,” she complained bitterly. “They thought it was coming from the pub on the corner.”
Ah, I’d forgotten about the music.
For the first half hour we’d lain in bed I’d assumed the thump-thump-thumping was coming from the room next to us: someone watching telly while listening to the radio and tenderising meat. It was Tracey who worked out the noise was drifting up from the street below.
Drifting seems utterly like the wrong word for a racket which travels through concrete and roofing iron, and around a corner, only to penetrate inch thick glass nearly 20 floors above ground.
Given that, it was ironic the hotel’s location right in the heart of Brisbane which first attracted us to look at booking it.
“I meant the alarm,” I went on.
I really had her attention now.
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “That silly alarm!”
Tracey and I had just wriggled into bed to do that thing parents do when they’re finally alone with no chance of kids interrupting them – sleep. She’d just run her theory for where the music was coming from by me when a woman’s voice joined us in the room.
“Attention guests and staff,” the voice said, before going on with something like, “a fire alarm has been triggered and we are investigating the cause. Please remain in your rooms until further notice.”
Interestingly, Tracey and I had discussed this exact scenario when we’d entered our room seven hours earlier. And I don’t mean interestingly in ‘OMG can you believe it’ sense so much as it’s just worth noting, because I’m the sort of person who thinks of tsunami escape routes if we’re staying within cooee of the beach, so escape plans from tall buildings are a given.
Only difference this time was, what with a recent sad news event, Tracey started the conversation instead of me.
“If there’s a fire and we’re told to stay in our rooms…” she’d said.
“…we leave,” I’d finished.
“What do you want to do?” Tracey murmured. The fact she wasn’t up looking for shoes a clear indication how she felt about the situation.
“I’m going to sleep,” I said. The idea of nineteen flights of stairs, even descending ones, so exhausting I could feel myself drifting off from exhaustion already. “If I’m going to die of smoke inhalation I’d prefer not to know about it.”
I’d just about managed it too when the voice spoke again, assuring us it was all just a false alarm.
The Italian widow looked, if anything, even crankier. She clearly hadn’t had a good night, and I suspected the counter staff in the foyer were going to know about it.
So I thought I’d help them by reminding her about the one redeeming feature the place had which totally makes up for all that. Not the central location near Queens St. Not the nice clean rooms and super comfy bed. Not the friendly staff or the views of the city and river.
Not even the fact the guy in the restaurant could make a proper and decent cup of Joe – something I was pleased to discover a few minutes later.
Hoisting our wardrobes off the floor, we stepped out of the lift on the first floor to go enjoy our complimentary breakfast. The Italian widow was apparently going down one more stop to the foyer to check out.
“But how cheap are the rooms?” I said to her.
Cheap? Half the cost of all the places around us. Although they’ve probably got thicker, noise-reducing glass.
In the seconds before the lift doors closed the Italian widow stared at me, then broke into a huge Dolmio grin.
“Yeah,” she beamed.
We’re totally going to stay there again too.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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