K is for Key

by Lillian Csernica on April 13, 2016


On H Day you read some of my hotel stories.  Now let’s talk about keys!  Modern hotels have those plastic cards much like ATM cards that you stick in the slot and pull out again in order to unlock the door.  Sounds simple enough, right?  If only that were true.


Norwescon, Seattle, WA — On our very first night in the DoubleTree, I had made the long and weary trek from the main area of the hotel all the way to Wing 5B, third floor, our room.  I swear, it took at least ten minutes to get there.  I stuck my key card into the slot.

The key did not work.  The little light did not turn green.  It worked earlier.  It would not work now.

I was less than thrilled at the prospect of hiking all the way back to the front desk to get this sorted out.  I couldn’t call the front desk on my cell, because the only number I could find was the main reservation line.  I was ready to start banging my head against the wall when a neighbor two doors down (Not the Vikings.  This was in the other direction.) offered me the use of his phone.  I called the front desk, they sent a security guard who checked my ID and verified that my key wouldn’t work.  I got a new key and got into our hotel room.  Later, when Pat and Nancy came back for the night, I felt a whole lot less embarrassed when their keys wouldn’t work either.  Lucky for them, I was there to open the door.  The next day all three of us went to the front desk for “fresh” keys.


Citadines Karasuma-Gojo, Kyoto, Japan — After two planes, a bus, and a taxi, Pat and I arrived on the doorstep of the residential hotel where we would stay.  Our room was quite modern and very comfortable.  Problem: I could not find a light switch for the main room.  After some experimentation, I realized I had to put my room key into a slot that was up & down, as opposed to in & out. Thinking it was like most key card readers, I pushed my key down and pulled it up again.  The lights came on.  All was well.

Two minutes later, the lights went out.

After going through this twice more, I called the front desk.  Pat tells me that listening to my side of the conversation was pretty funny, because I was trying so hard to be calm and polite when I really wanted to smash something.  Once I made it clear to the folks at the front desk that the lights would not stay on, they sent somebody from Maintenance.  He provided us with the “key” to the solution: you had to leave the card in the slot to keep the lights on.  When you left, you took your key with you, which would ensure not leaving the lights on while you were out.  Wow.  Never seen that one before!


This is art.  It’s not me.

BayCon — Once again, Pat and I were not staying in the main convention hotel.  Pat picked me up and drove us to the hotel she’d chosen.  It had been a really stressful week with the boys.  I was so tired I almost fell asleep in the car even though it was only late afternoon.  Pat got us checked in.  I followed her around the labyrinth of wrought iron stairways and hallways thronged by teenage girls in some kind of sports uniforms.  (They all seemed to be blonde, but maybe fatigue blurred my memories.)  Our room was located outside an exterior door, on this little chunk of balcony, where there was a bitter wind blowing as the sun began to set.

Guess what happened next?  That’s right.  The key wouldn’t work.

I was SO not in the mood for that.  Pat went back to the front desk while I stood there in the cold breeze and tried to stay awake.  Ten or fifteen minutes later Pat came back.  She stopped right outside the door, as far from me as she could get while still being on the balcony.

“Promise me you won’t kill me,” she said.

Adrenalin surged inside me, but not enough to make me move.  “What happened?”

“Promise me you won’t kill me.”

“Tell me what happened!”

“Promise me–”

“I’m too tired to kill you.  Now tell me what happened!”

She’d transposed two digits of our room number.  The key wouldn’t work because we were standing outside the wrong door.



Filed under Blog challenges, Conventions, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Humor, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, romance, science fiction, Special needs, travel, worry, Writing

10 responses to “K is for Key

  1. Really, I wish they would go back to the old fashioned keys. It is a problem when the card keys don’t work and I’m always lining them up incorrectly at the start, etc. Can be frustrating!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Betty! I hear you. The problem with the old-fashioned keys is making a lock that can’t be picked. I appreciate the hotels’ security concerns, but those key cards can be a pain!


  2. Haha, there is nothing like a defective key card. For sure, technology is not always your friend. Sometimes, I can see the joys of being a… luddite!!! lolololol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. greyzoned/angelsbark

    Lol! That’s funny, all of those stories. I recently was on a trip and had to use those stupid key cards. I was looking for the slot to stick the key into and couldn’t find one. I was baffled and just about to go back to the front desk when one of the other hotel customers came out of his room. I told him that I felt really stupid but I couldn’t get in my room. He told me that I had to just hold the key card over the box on the door, like a swipe. It read it and Voila! I was in. I felt like an idiot!!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    Liked by 1 person

    • I ran into that at the Kyoto hotel. You couldn’t use the elevator unless you had a pass key, and you just held that up to the box above the floor buttons. Another brain teaser!


  4. The key that stands out in my memory was an enormous medieval iron job half the length of my forearm! That’s the time when I got myself accidentally locked inside Caernarvon Castle in Wales, when they closed up early thinking all the tourists had already left. When I came down off the wall, the place was deserted. I had to poke around until I found a working phone and called the cops. Once the fellow was finished up laughing at me, he did kindly summon the Key Keeper, who left his dinner to come back and let me out, using that gigantic key. I was never so happy to see such an angry man as that one was – I wanted my supper too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my! Using the key card to turn on the lights is both ingenious and maddening. Great idea to reduce waste… but kind of a silly method. My husband and I are trying to figure out a way to prevent people from texting while driving, and we thinking something should be installed on all cars to prevent phones from working altogether when you’re within X many feet of them. Too many distractions, and too many people who refused to think of even their own safety, much less the lives of others they are endangering…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you seen the new commercials for passengers to put their hands in the way of the driver’s hand reaching for his/her phone? It creates this moment of awkward intimacy that makes sure the driver doesn’t try to text again.


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