I was wrong. Surely I knew better. But still, the minute I arrived in my room at the Grove Park Inn, I unpacked. I hung my clothes in the closet and tossed the rest of my stuff around. I went out to grab a sandwich for a late lunch.

Lobby of the Grove Park Inn, a historic resort in Asheville, NC

Lobby of the Grove Park Inn, a historic resort in Asheville, NC

Only then, around 3pm, did I try to log on to the hotel’s wireless.

Wifi is vital for me. I’m here to facilitate an executive retreat, and I knew the client was sending me some large files – stuff way too hard to read and deal with on my iPhone.  I had lots of other work to get done as well – most of it calling for email or web access.

No signal. Or, actually, the teensy tiniest weensiest little dot at the bottom of the wifi icon on my MacBook. So they HAD wifi, but the signal was too weak to connect.

I spend nearly half my life in hotels. I’ve seen this before. I leapt to a diagnosis: my room is too far from the router. I need a new room.

The front desk wasn’t buying it. No, they assured me, the signal is the same all through the hotel. But maybe I’d be willing to come down to the lobby and do my work there?

Nope, no way. I’m not sitting in a busy resort lobby for hours trying to write and focus on client projects.

“Let us take you through the steps to log in,” the hotel voice-of-whom-I-don’t-know-I’m-speaking-to suggested. “You’re probably skipping a step.”

Sigh. I know I’m not skipping a step. I haven’t taken a step yet. There’s no signal.

Patiently I let him instruct me in how to log on to wifi. Patiently I explain to him how it’s not working.

Time to upgrade me to the IT guy by phone. He’s thousands of miles from this hotel. He’s probably never seen this hotel. He’s not buying it when I explain that not only am I too far from the router, but it looks as though a massive stone wall is blocking my room from any signal.

He takes me through the steps. By now it’s 4pm. I have to send an important (and very long) email by five. If I have to do it iPhone, I’ll have to start typing click by click now.  I’m about as good typing on my iPhone as I would be dancing the samba. Possible, but not pretty.

“Don’t worry,” the offsite IT guy promises. I’ll call the hotel’s IT guy and tell him to reset the router. He’s probably still there. And I’ll call you right back.”

I never heard from him again.

It was back to the front desk, pleading for a new room. They were willing to try anything other than moving me. I was out of options. My Inner Warrior emerged. Finally, twenty minutes before five, they sent up a bellman with a key to another room. This one faces the mountains, not the stone wall. And yes!! Wireless.

I went back to my old room, packed everything up helter skelter, hauled it up the elevator and down the hall. I see now what I did wrong – I never should have unpacked. Lesson learned: check the wifi first.