Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." This is especially true and especially painful when there is an audience involved.

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Don’t be alarmed

“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re replaced.”

Every boss I’ve had since I got into the business considered call time to be holy writ. As in (imagine a big, echoing, Monty Python-esque voice of God) “Thou Shall NOT Be Late For Call Time!” Especially on show day. That’s all fine and dandy. Problem is, call time is often very early in the morning and you most likely stayed up very late putting the finishing touches on things (slides, sound check, six pack, etc.).

Then you need to deal with the alarm clock provided by the hotel. Setting an unfamiliar alarm clock can be a dicey proposition to begin with. But have you noticed how the people who procure room furnishings for major hotel chains all seem to have a fetish for really unusual, hard-to-decipher alarm clocks? How about this little number that Mark Hurst ran into recently. It’s so difficult to set, the hotel printed up special instruction cards. Guess they got a lot of complaints. There are five steps to setting the alarm, seven if you count steps that are repeated. I can see how it might be easy to accidentally set the alarm for 5:00 pm instead of 5:00 am. This happened to a co-worker a few years ago. He felt more than a little sheepish when he final made it downstairs to the ballroom. His boss was kind enough to provide him with a personal wake up call for the remainder of our stay. The rest of us were kind enough to “accidentally” set our phone and watch alarms to go off every one and a while just to rub it in.

I know what you’re thinking. Just call down to the front desk for and request a good old fashion wake up call. Nice idea, but due to increasing pressure to save money, more and more hotels are switching to automated wake up call systems that guests program themselves using the telephone’s keypad. When you’re already half asleep, these can be as dicey as the overly fancy alarm clock, without any visual confirmation that you might have actually gotten it right. And even when you do talk to a real human, there’s a good possibility that the wake up call won’t actually happen. Especially when you calling at 3:00 am and it sounds like you woke the desk clerk from his own deep, restorative sleep. Traditional wake up calls can’t be counted on and should be considered only a backup at best.

You also need to remember that both the automated wake up call system, as well as the bedside alarm clock, are vulnerable to power outages.

The best bet is to use both of these methods, but rely on your own devices to be absolutely secure in your ability to regain consciousness in time to keep the boss happy. This means having your own travel alarm clock and/or setting the alarm on your phone.

Then you need to set up a phone circle:

  • Make a list of everyone who needs to be awake
  • Decide on a wake up window (let’s say 4:00 to 4:15 am for example.)
  • Starting at 4:00 am each person calls the next person on the list and confirms they are awake and conscious enough to make it to the shower. The last person on the list is responsible for  calling the first person.
  • At 4:15, If you’re awake and made your call, but haven’t heard from the person above you on the list, you are responsible for reversing the circle and waking the person who was supposed to wake you. The calls should continue in the revered direction until they reach the person who broke the original circle.

Related Resources:

Missed wakeup call – Should I be compensated? –Great discussion on a frequent flyer forum about the wake up call problem. Confirms that the no hotel guarantees waking you up at a particular time and offers some other interesting backsup systems: “I don’t know if this is myth, but I read that American Indians used pre-bed water as an alarm. You know, 2 glasses to get up at 5, 3 glasses to get up at 4, etc. Of course, if you’re groggy and inclined to go back to bed after using the toilet, that doesn’t work.”

Wakerupper — “Wakerupper aims to make telephone alerting as easy and inexpensive as possible by enabling users to schedule reminder calls to telephones in the United States and Canada in one step, on one simple web page – for free. Enter the number of the phone you would like to be called on, the time you want to receive the call, and an optional 140-character reminder message and you will receive a call from Wakerupper at the time you specified.”

Your Turn:

Have you ever missed a call time? If so, fess up by adding a comment to this post. Hopefully the story you share might help others avoid facing the same situation. We would also love to hear about any other wake up system you might have come up with or heard about someone else using.

7 comments to Don’t be alarmed

  • I have never missed a call time. Ever.

    P U N C T U A L I T Y

    Those were the seven letters that replaced the numbers 1-11 on a clock of my youth. (The 12 spot was something demonic, I think.)

    Nonetheless, I'm perpetually late for everything else.

    So it balances out.

    You know.

    Over time.

  • Did I say 7? I meant 11.

    I'm also v. bad at craps.

  • I never missed a call time either and I'm actually pretty punctual in real life too. In fact, my kids' eyes now start to roll every time I start saying “If you’re early, you’re…” I'm pretty sure I'm being mocked when they finish saying the motto in unison with me. On the other hand, they should be thankful that they never had a bad seat at the movie theater their entire lives. And sitting in the empty theater for 30 minutes before the previews start gives us a chance to reconnect as a family.

  • I never missed a call time either and I'm actually pretty punctual in real life too. In fact, my kids' eyes now start to roll every time I start saying “If you’re early, you’re…” I'm pretty sure I'm being mocked when they finish saying the motto in unison with me. On the other hand, they should be thankful that they never had a bad seat at the movie theater their entire lives. And sitting in the empty theater for 30 minutes before the previews start gives us a chance to reconnect as a family.

  • I guess we all should start being like them…if they don’t care then why should we! Heck I guess we all can get on welfare and not have to worry about anything. Let them take care of us for a while and see how they like it. Yeah…they’d probably cut it off so they wouldn’t have to deal with it. Just like they do everything else….ignore it and maybe it’ll go away.

  • Confirms that the no hotel guarantees waking you up at a particular time and offers some other interesting backsup systems

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