Whenever I give a conference presentation, I like to arrive at the room early to set up. Then if there’s time I’ll talk to the early-arriving attendees, play some music, show a video or tell some stories. A favorite topic is travel advice and I have one story about how not to leave all your valuables in the hotel safe when you check out.
Everyone carries expensive electronics with them these days – tablets, music players, computers, chargers, book readers, you name it. If the hotel has a safe, naturally you toss all the toys in there before heading out for the day. Problem is on that last day there’s a danger of forgetting to check the safe and leaving all your toys behind. I have an answer for this:
Put some underwear in the safe with all the expensive electronics.
This has two benefits. First, you MUST open the safe on the last day to get the underwear out. Even if you totally forget the safe, you aren’t likely to forget the underwear when you go to get dressed, and after a few minutes rooting around the suitcase you have that “eureka!” moment and remember to look in the safe. There. Done. Problem solved.
The second benefit is that, in the highly unlikely event you do manage to leave your stuff in the safe somehow, you have the satisfaction of knowing that whoever eventually opens the safe is going to look at the contents and go “Huh?” Some poor locksmith just minding his own business gets called to your suite, opens the safe to find a cache of high-tech goodies…and underwear? Who puts underwear in the safe? Is it valuable? Why? Did it come out of Q’s lab with all sorts of James Bond gadgets built in? If you pull that dangling thread, does a garrote unreel? Is it bullet-proof? Is the underwear made of fuse cord? Is it one of those new underwear bombs the TSA are always scanning for?
This never fails to get a chuckle and I tell it regularly, including again this year. Sometimes people come up after the session and tell me they have been putting underwear in the safe ever since the last session of mine they attended. So far attendees report a 100% success rate!
This year was different. After the session as the crowd at the podium dwindled, a stunningly attractive woman walked up and introduced herself.
“You told that story last year,” she said. “It actually sounded like a good idea so when I got back to my room I put my panties in the safe.”
Panties? She had to say panties? This is a business conference and I try to keep my material G-rated so I always say “underwear” and that’s about as risque as I get. But this woman with her supermodel good looks and fitted business outfit with matching blazer, skirt and heels had to go there.
“How’d that work out,” I asked fidgeting a bit nervously.
“Not so great,” she replied. “I was called away on an urgent consulting engagement that night and wouldn’t you know, I left all my gadgets and my panties in the safe.”
Nobody had ever reported this occurrence and now all I could think of was the locksmith finding not just gadgets and underwear, but gadgets and panties. Bond girl lace panties, made of spider silk that unravels into a shock cord for rappelling down buildings. A thong that converts an umbrella into a crossbow. The entire Victoria’s Secret catalog flashed before my eyes. A bead of sweat gathered on my forehead. I forced myself to focus on the conversation. Did she get her stuff back, I wondered?
“What did you do?”
“I went commando for three days.”
My eyes, no longer under conscious control, glanced at the hem of her skirt, then back up at her face. Hundreds of responses came to mind, not one of which was appropriate to say out loud. Suddenly I was aware that my mouth was moving but no words were coming out. I shut it. It opened again of its own accord. I shut it again. I swallowed hard.
Before I had a chance to gather my wits, she smiled, then turned smoothly on her high heel and sashayed out of the room. Just as she reached the door she turned and waved. “See you next year!”
Oh God, I hope not.