The Parable of the Black Slip

Nearly three years ago I was getting settled in to a Nashville hotel after a long flight. I had a LOT of work to do that night to get ready for a large class I was teaching the next day. I was exhausted mentally and physically from the early morning, layovers and in anticipation of the late night that I knew I still had ahead of me. My assistant and I decided that we’d get unpacked, change our clothes, and then meet up in about an hour.

My hotel room was a bit “different.” The hotel was in the midst of doing some renovation. In order to create more of a “suite” environment they had essentially combined two regular hotel rooms together in the corner of the hotel. In one of the rooms there was a huge screened TV, a sink area, a large refrigerator, sofas, dining table and some guest chairs. The other room was converted into a nice sleeping area. As a result of these renovations, there was a main door that led out to the hallway of the hotel, and then behind that door there were the two original room doors set at a right angle to each other. Essentially this created a little tiny 3 feet by 3 feet space between the two right angled hotel room doors, and the main door that went out to the hotel hallway. Since both room doors were essentially IN my room, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t move freely from one room to the other without needing a room key.

I gradually changed my clothes as I was unpacking. You know, you’ve got to unpack enough to be able to change, right? Besides, I couldn’t wait to get out of my stuffy business attire and change into some comfortable jeans and a sweater. As I was unpacking, I came across something that needed to be refrigerated, and as an easily distracted person will do, I stopped unpacking so that I could go to the other room and put my item in the refrigerator. As I tried to get into the other room I heard the door to the sleeping room behind me close. It was LOCKED. Unfortunately, the door to the room which contained the refrigerator was also locked. So, here I am standing in nothing but my underwear and my black half slip. Given that I was so scantily clad, it wasn’t likely that I would have any pockets which contained a cell phone, a room key, or hey, maybe something with which to create a smoke signal—you know—something USEFUL for such a moment. Besides, this was a non-smoking room, so the smoke signal option was definitely out. I hadn’t learned Morse code yet, so getting someone to hear me without revealing my unmentionables wasn’t a viable solution.

I carefully opened the door to the hallway and just poked my head out. No one was in sight. No passing patron or hotel staff that I could beg to help me and provide me with a new room key. I look up toward the hallway ceiling. Yup. Sure enough there was a security camera that pointed right at my doorway. I did NOT want me to be the next YouTube video courtesy of some underpaid, bored hotel staff member. I was essentially trapped in a 3 foot by 3 foot space with nowhere that I could possibly go but OUT—out into the public hallway of the hotel on the 5th floor. It’s not like I was going to just hop on the elevator and go down to registration and ask for another key. And I certainly didn’t want to be knocking door to door to use someone’s phone. Yup. Of COURSE I panicked. (Did I mention that I’m a tad claustrophobic as well?) This was certainly a fine mess! Sure I can take down a big burly brute without flinching, but protecting my modesty from the public and a security camera wasn’t exactly something I was trained for. I remember thinking specifically that this is one of the worst situations I’ve ever got myself in. Realizing that I was panicking, I decided to stop, calm down, and say a sincere prayer. So I did. I managed to miss hearing the snickers that inevitably were coming from the heavens as they watched me play out this mess.

After I was finished praying I stopped to think for a moment. I literally found myself asking myself, “Ok. What are my assets?” (Yes, I asked that question without laughing either.) I had underwear and a black slip. That was it. I knew that my assistant was in a room just a few doors down from me. But I couldn’t get to her without going out into the hall. So, I decided that I would use my height of 5’ 2 ½ inches combined with my half-slip as an asset. Being vertically challenged most of my life, it’s common for me to have pants or skirts that are a bit on the long side. So I hiked up that half slip to cover my hoo-hahs, and checked to make sure it covered my fanny. Whew. It did. I had a chance. Knowing full well that if I left the “safety” of that 3 x 3 foot space I would be STUCK outside in front of the dang camera, I decided that I had no choice but to give it a shot. So I poked my head out of the door. I didn’t see anyone else in the hallway. So I scurried out to make a run for my assistant’s room. As I heard my hotel room door slam behind me, it sounded so condemning. So final. So humiliating! If my assistant wasn’t in her room I would indeed be forced to go door to door to get access to a phone…all the while the camera rolled.

Fortunately, in a mere second or two I was at the door of my assistant’s room. I banged on her door frantically, yelling through the door to let me in QUICK. I have to say that the look on her face was one I had never seen on her before. To be frank, I’m not exactly known for being frazzled, frantic, and half naked. I’m sure she was shocked…maybe even scarred for life! She quickly let me in, gave me a robe, and we took care of things with the front desk from there. Ahhh… peace—finally—and an experience I will never forget.

So why in the world am I sharing this experience with you today? You tell me! What can YOU learn from the parable of the black slip? What am I possibly trying to teach you? The lesson is in YOUR hands today folks.

PS: Now you can see why today's blog has no pictures! :)

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ha ha. Wear a full slip??

The parable of course is that you can never be fully prepared for
everything that GOD has arranged. Even a Preparedness Pro can
be caught un-prepared.

So always be ready to fall back on training and your brain,
the only things that you carry every where.

And "Don't Panic".

Oh my goodness... I thought I was the only person in the whole world that finds herself in instances to embarrass myself. I had to giggle but not AT YOU but WITH YOU. It could have been me over and over again!

The lesson, check out new environments, especially hotel rooms, and don't assume that exits and entrances always work like you're used to. Also that with time and humor, a crises can have a silver lining!

Here is what I learned with my 'ears to hear' Your sincere prayer for help was answered with a "what do you know?" response. The Lord trusted your knowledge, wisdom, and 'slip-skills' to get you out of your predicament. The most important preparedness item is your own brain. Use it! Good job...I'll bet you search 'black slip lady' on Youtube every so often, just to be sure.

Thanks for sharing.

And I thought ours was the only family to be trapped in a small, pass through area in a large building. It really did happen to us on a weekend in my husband's office building. He was showing us around and we walked from the kitchen into a little hallway (door clicked shut behind us) and were heading forward to the dining area, only the door was locked. Did I mention it was the weekend and the building was empty except for us? We started to panic and my husband decided to try the door to the kitchen one more time and it openend! We were never so happy to see freedom again.
We did have one advantage over you-we had our clothes on!

A very similar thing happened to my husband. He was staying at a hotel that he had stayed at many times and was known to the stoff. He had ordered dinner in his room, and after dining, he was put the remains of his dinner out into the hall, while dressed in only his tee shirt, underwear and socks. As he did so, the door clicked shut, and he let out a loud statement. Fortunately the person in the room across the hall heard him and looked out to see what was going on. He was kind enough to call the front desk. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence. The little gal from the front desk, who had checked him in many times came right up and while she had a smile on her face, she was not even phased that he was standing in the hall with only his skivvies on. From this experience, he now lounges in hotel rooms with pajama bottoms on.
Later, as he started telling this tale to a friend, his friend knew exactly what he was about to tell him... as it had also happened to him. So, to make this as short as possible... you are not alone in your experience. And yes, it is good to learn from the experiences we and others have. The first thing to be packed for him is always the pajama bottoms. :)

What did I learn from the 'Parable of the Black Slip'? Well, being vertically challenged myself....I decided to count my blessings for being short! I am known to be in those embarrassing kinds of situations myself on occasion! But, truly, I learned that even though you THINK you are fully prepared....there might be something you have forgotten!

What did I learn from the "Parable of the Black Slip"? Firstly, my number one instinct in a panic situation such as this is to pray.
Secondly, a survivor needs to always be prepared to cover her uh, er, um, "assets".
And finally, when you find that you don't have much, always be grateful for what you DO have.

That was a great story; thanks for sharing what could have been a potentially humiliating experience.

Hah! Glad to see I'm not the only one. There I was, first day on the job in the big city. "Where does this big, heavy, windowless, seemingly blastproof steel door go," I wondered. As soon as it clicked behind me I realized where it went, to an emergency evacuation stairway. Thirty-plus stories later I was at ground level, then out to the alley, back through the lobby to the elevators and back up to my office. Never said anything about it. To anybody.

This story sounds like something I would do. Thank you for sharing. Since this blog is about "Emergency Preparedness", and you definately had an emergency, it qualifies for this blog. Sometimes the study of preparedness and all the reasons for it gets a little heavy. It is good to have this humorous story to lighten the load.

Not all emergencies or disasters are of the type that effects hundreds or thousands of people. We can have our own disasters all by ourselves, or involving just a few people. But it is still an emergency or disaster to us.

Thanks again for your post.

Oh, I SEE! That stands for Significant Emotional Experience. So often we don't know what we are being prepared for when we go through our "seeing" moments but the lessons are learned. I don't like going through those embarrassing, stressful, difficult circumstances, but I am getting to the place where I welcome them because of what I learn and glean for a better walk in life. So, keep your clothes on as necessary, be very aware of your surroundings, and always travel with an assistant. Thanks for sharing your "SEE"!

There seem to be many lessons here:

1. Trust in God. Pray when you are in trouble (also when you are not introuble and especialy in gratitude when He gets you out of trouble).
2. Be aware of your surroundings. Your assumptions might be wrong.
3. Be willing to humble yourself and rely on the help of others.

Probably many more as well.

I had a similar experience some years ago (although I at least had a robe on). I was at home in my apartment, where I had lived for over a year. It was a very familiar setting. My wife and I had just returned from our honeymoon. The apartment had been her home for just a few days. That night, I went to take the garbage out to the garbage room, just 10 yards from our front door. She came with me. The door closed behind us. I always left it unlocked when I stepped out to the garbage room, but my wife had started to lock the door at all times, using the self-locking doorknob lock. She assumed I would have a key. I assumed that the door would be unlocked as it always had been. We found ourselves locked out of our apartment late at night in nothing but our pajamas. We didn't know any of the neighbors and didn't have a phone to call anyone for help.

We ended up asking for help from a stranger in the fitness room. He invited us into his place and called the facilities manager to let us back in. In retrospect, it wasn't so bad. At least we had pajamas on and we got to know a neighbor. But I'm still careful to make sure that I have two ways into my home or car wherever I am. And I chide my wife every time she leaves home without her keys. She still assumes that I'll have mine, and though she's usually right, I fear that one day we may have to relearn that lesson.

We did nearly the same thing.

We did nearly the same thing.
Our room was next to the elevator and a small group of students were making a lot of noise as they hung out at the elevator. We did not know what was happening, but we were trying to sleep, so, my husband went out to check, wearing only pj bottoms. I peeked out wearing only the top part of the pjs (and nothing else) and the door slammed shut.
After scolding the students, he realized that we could not get back inside. Down to the main desk he went to get another key. I stood, and waited, trying to keep my "shirt" long enough. It was embarrassing, yet funny.
Thoughts? Walk with confidence to your destination. While you might get a few looks, people won't think much about it, it has happened before.


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