Most likely it is because I am reading his latest novel, "11/22/63" about a person who finds a time opening and goes back to alter history. It is a huge book, about 700 pages, and guaranteed to give you the sleepy's if read in bed, but the "SK effect" made me remember what time travel is all about and how things change.
Here's my dream.
The scene is at a hotel, a newer one, now that we're transported back to sometime in the late 1970's or early 1980's.
I approach the front desk after a long flight. My suit is wrinkled from too much slouching on the plane, eating a messy meal on board that may have been chicken, or pasta, or both. I suffered a long wait at the carousel for my heavy Samsonite suitcase. My rental car was not ready, they could not find my reservation so I had to take a different car.
"Hi, I'm checking in," I say in my best cheery voice, dropping the Samsonite on the polished floor.
"Welcome to our hotel. Can I have your name please?" The front desk person is very attentive and not at all distracted. He consults a small pad with guest names listed alphabetically.
I give him my name and hand over my brand new credit card. He walks to a small key rack on one side of the counter and gets the brass key to my room. It has the number stamped on it--415.
"I see you'll be with us for several nights. Is there anything else I can get or do?"
"Not at the moment. What time does the restaurant close?"
"Ten p.m., sir, but room service is available all night." He smiles handing me my credit card and key.
Thanking him I walk to the bank of elevators, and ascend to the fourth floor. I am at in a room the end of the hall, one lucky break, and the room even has a shoe polisher for both black and brown shoes. Glancing at mine I know that it will get used. My 19 inch television is color and a fairly new Zenith with a remote to boot. An alarm clock reminds me that I need to have them give me a wake-up call the next morning. How much better can it get?
The phone rings, and it is the front desk asking if everything is to my liking. I tell them yes. I get ready and head down to dinner, in another suit coat and tie. Dinner is excellent.
This was all a dream of course, but it points to several things that have changed or remain the same, over the past thirty years:
- Check in is the same then as now, except that there is now a matter of being recognized as a frequent or elite frequent guest.
- Room choice was the hotel's, and there was no decision required for upgrades: the room was the room, suites were additional cost items, and prices were nonnegotiable.
- Rooms were identical, every one a copy of the next.
- Loyalty programs had yet to be invented.
Is this a better time all things considered? Has the advent of the Loyalty Programs changed our worldview? Are we relentlessly heading for the nirvana of elite and point accumulation? Are we frustrated when we get none or not all of the above amenities? And what happened to the shoe shine machine?
I leave that set of questions for others to answer (and am sure you all will) since I need to starting plowing through the King novel again