Jim Mullen: The outlet maul | TheUnion.com

Jim Mullen: The outlet maul

The hotel room had everything you could ask for: hairdryer, iron, coffeemaker, floor lamp, desk lamp, night-table lamps, mini-fridge, TV, DVD player and a room air-control unit. We were spending the night to attend an out-of-town wedding.

Sue and I set our suitcases down and pulled out our laptops and cellphones. After unplugging all the lamps so we could charge our devices, there were still more outlet decisions to make: Do we unplug the TV or the fridge in order to charge my toothbrush?

“You know, they make toothbrushes that don’t use electricity,” Sue reminded me.

“And there’s a phone on the desk,” I said, “so why bother charging your cell?”

Obviously, Sue and I had much advice to give the young couple we came to see get married. Like, “Always say the first thing that pops into your head.” And, “You don’t have to be all lovey-dovey after the first few weeks; it’s not like you have to impress him/her anymore.”

Who needs marriage counseling when they’ve got us to advise them? Why be happy when you can be like us?

Of course, we’re not always like that. It had been a long day. We set our alarms for 4 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight. Then the phone rang at 3 a.m., telling us the flight had been changed to 9 a.m. — so we could sleep in. Except that now, we were wide awake. That’s all right, we thought, we’ll sleep on the plane.

“Sleeping on the plane.” I’ve met a few people who can do that. Incidentally, none of them are babies. No, what babies do on planes is the opposite of sleep. And the opposite of sleeping is not being awake, like you might think; it’s bawling at the top of your lungs.

The good news is that we were sitting next to the plane engines, which blocked out much of the noise. Had he not been sitting next to us, I might not have even heard the wet, phlegmy cough of the passenger on the aisle. What could possibly make someone cough that much? Ebola? Pneumonia? The plague? The odd thing about it was that he also seemed to be sleeping. Cough, snore, cough, snore, cough cough, snore.

We finally lost him at the baggage claim, because his luggage came out first and ours came out last. That put us last in line at the rental car counter, just in time to get on the road in rush-hour traffic. It was like we were winning the lottery in reverse.

Plugging in a cellphone should have been easy after that. But just as they say that an army is “always fighting the last war,” hotels are always prepared for the last trend. They started putting fax machines in their lobbies just about the time everyone switched to email. They started offering paid Wi-Fi just around the time Starbucks and McDonald’s were offering it for free. Now they have free Wi-Fi, but not enough outlets for people who travel with every electrical gadget known to man.

Most airports have gotten up to speed on this, with charging stations all over the place. Who knows who’s paying for all that electricity, but I hope it’s the people who can afford to spend a week in short-term parking. Not me, in other words.

New hotels are probably being built right now with hundreds of outlets in each room, but by the time they open to the public, Silicon Valley will have probably invented something new that needs a special plug or cord or voltage that no one anticipated. Guaranteed, it will make every gadget you currently own either useless or tragically old-fashioned.

Until that day comes, I’ll be traveling with several three-plug outlet adapters in my luggage. You should consider joining me in this.

The marriage you save may be your own.

Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.

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