Dear Hotel Manager

Dear Helmsley Hotel manager,

When the fire alarm sounds at midnight, while I am asleep after walking for miles all over Manhattan, and I scramble to find the light and my clothes and shoes and wallet (because the sleepy cynic in me wonders if this is an elaborate ploy to steal my belongings), and I stumble to the door wishing I had read the bloody floor plan that tells me how to crawl to the nearest exit, simultaneously cursing the hole in my pajama bottoms, and the alarm stops and a guy in security says over the loudspeaker, “May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. Please disregard the alarm you just heard,” 1) there is no need to demand my attention (you have it), and 2) right, I’ll just disregard the bloodcurdling alarm that catapults me from deep slumber into utter nocturnal confusion.

When I grant you the fact that the hotel is under construction and these things happen (which is not to say I wasn’t swearing like the plumber who was apparently fiddling with some valve in the middle of the night), the alarm shatters my sleep again at 6:15 a.m. and I barely reach for my shoes when that voice comes on again, asking if he might have my attention and this time declaring in a thick New York accent, “There is no need to panic. This is a false alarm.”

But then, I suppose it’s only fair to have two false alarms in one night because some guests were out late and missed the first one.

Still, when I write to you complaining, you might at least write back.

Ungratefully,

Sleepless in NYC

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