Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Away in a Manger

Every Christian wants to be just like Jesus but I’ve never really subscribed to that theory. I just wanna be me. After all I was made in His image so why should I try and be something I’m not? Growing up I felt like Him often. Mom every now and then would intersperse my name with His as in “Jesus Christ what have you done now!!” so I felt much closer to Him than most. This week I feel close to Him again as I tried and get a hotel reservation for RSNA and might indeed be like Him as I end up sleeping on Chicago’s version of a manger aka steam grate when I can’t get a hotel for the nights I’ll be at RSNA. It’s not for want, mind you, but just like Jesus it doesn’t look like the cards are in my favor at this point in time.

I tried to make my hotel reservations last week and even picked out my hotel but alas they couldn’t lock in my reservation because I hadn’t gotten my media credentials yet. It’s a fairly simple process but does require some paperwork and documentation and such and frankly with all that’s been going on of late I simply didn’t get to it by Friday’s deadline. My bad. Normally that isn’t a problem but this year it is.

Now some things don’t seem to make a lot of sense here. When I called RSNA housing last Wednesday I was given a list of so many hotels to choose from it amazed me- at least 30 at all price levels. I loved working with the company that has done the RSNA hotel booking for years. Experient is a very professional company and left me thinking I’d be all set if I called back Friday. Today was another story though. I’m told in under 48 hours the RSNA sold out nearly every hotel they had negotiated rates with- an amazing fact if indeed true- but what was left I could get from another company whose name shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty. OK, I think, I’ll play by the rules. No problem. So I call that company and well, let’s just say they have a set that make an elephant’s look tiny by comparison. Most of the hotels they offered me downtown started at around $300- their rack rate if not more- and went up from there. The fact that the prices they quoted me were anywhere from 30-90% higher than the RSNA pre-negotiated rate just one business day earlier was bad enough but their attitude- without saying as much- was pretty much “You are a doctor- you can afford it!!" Um, I’m not and no I can’t. Now I can handle almost anything except attitude- just ask my sons- and let me tell you these people had attitude to the max.

“Do you have anything around $200/night?” I asked. Silence…then a sigh….and then “Let me check…” Fifteen seconds later….”We do have one hotel that is about a mile from downtown- at $160 per night. Do you want it?” I think to myself that’s an extra $5 in cab fare each way but….”Where is it?”” Silence again..”26th Street West” they answer…and then continue ”….about a mile from downtown” I look on the RSNA map. A mile from downtown my ass. It’s a mile southwest of McCormick Place in a neighborhood that made the old Cabrini Towers look like the freaking Taj Mahal. “Um…no thanks…I’ll keep looking”. And so I do.

I have no doubt I’ll find a room but rest assured it won’t be a Days Inn at $310/night. The RSNA is helping as much as they can- they have always been super helpful- and I can always fall back on my clients who book blocks of rooms and almost always have an extra I can steal. Then there is always Priceline, Hotels.com, Chicagochoice, and other sites I can explore as we get much closer to the day too, plus I’m working with the management of a few hotels direct too. While I shouldn’t have to go through this aggravation I accept part of the blame for waiting so long to register. Unfortunately there is but one of me to go around and too much to do between now and RSNA and registering wasn’t a priority. This will be my 28th RSNA and all but the first ten I’ve come in as a member of the press covering PACS for various publications, with the last decade covering it for AuntMinnie.com. I don't just do the PACSMan Awards but also feed stories to my counterparts as well. You just don't see that because it's done behind the scenes. The AM crew works as a team at RSNA and I am but one small part of it. I also always strive to maintain some semblance of balance in my life and am not burning the midnight oil every night just because. I always have and always will make time for my sons, myself and others in my life because work, while important, is not the very top of my priority list by any means. Important, yes, but not in my top three…But RSNA is a must, if for no other reason to do the PACSMan Awards that for reasons that escape me everyone seems to look forward to reading and is among the most read AM "stories" each year. Go figure.

So I won’t be at the Ritz this year although I did do that one year and it was pretty awesome- not $475 a night awesome but still pretty cool. I also probably won’t be sharing a steam grate with a Lieutenant Dan in a wheelchair with scraggly hair either but look for me in Chicago… somewhere…sometime beginning Sunday morning. My flight leaves at 5:30 a.m. just so I can get there in time and save on spending yet more money for a room for Saturday night…Just don’t look for me to fill the pockets of the greedy housing agency that has the leftover rooms. I like elephants as much as the next person but….

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