Sunday, October 30, 2016


Because I live too far from White Plains, N.Y. to commute back and forth during our two and three-day Cabinet meetings, I typically stay overnight in a hotel near the NYAC  conference center. I’ve been doing this for years without incident.  

Until recently.

Following a long day in Cabinet, I drove to my hotel nearby and checked in at the reception desk.  In exchange for an imprint of my credit card, I was handed a tiny envelope with my card key inside and my room number on the outside.

On the way to my room, I tried to decide how I might treat myself on this hard day’s night. Should I do some laps in the swimming pool?  Should I sweat it out in the steam room, or chill out in the hot tub?  Or should I just put on my PJs and watch what was left of the Monday Night Football game?

After I reached the place where the number on the room matched the number on my tiny envelope, I slid the plastic card into the slot and entered the room. Imagine my surprise when I found several lights already on, the television blaring, and a shirtless man in my bed!


While stammering something about it being “MY ROOM”, I did an about-face that would’ve made Oliver North proud.  Keeping with the Marine theme, I then marched down to the hotel lobby to tell the receptionist that there was a strange guy in my hotel room. 

Believe or not, here’s where things got really weird!

When I told her what had just happened, she acted as if this sort of stuff took place all the time - like I had just complained that the television remote didn’t work, or the shower dripped, or the last sheet of toilet paper wasn’t fanned out to look like the tail of a proud peacock.  Without so much as an apology or an upgrade, she handed me another key card for another room. 

This second room was dark and vacant when I entered, thank God, but the damage was already done.  I realized that if the unreceptive receptionist gave me a key to someone else’s room, she could easily give someone else a key to MY room.

Immediately, I looked through the peep hole to make sure no one was standing there, triple-locked the door 10 or 20 times, and then closed the drapes extra tight.  Before getting into bed, I grabbed the letter opener from my computer bag so that would have a weapon within reach while I slept (fyi, I didn't sleep).

As I tossed and turned all night, I wondered…is this how my wife feels whenever she travels alone?  Afraid.  Vulnerable.  At risk.  Open to attack. 

Is this how my diminutive daughter feels when she walks home from the campus library after dark?  Is this how my sister feels when she leaves the mall at closing? 

Is this how innocent civilians feel when ISIS or the Taliban takes over their village, city or province?  Is this how political refugees feel when they leave their war-torn homeland with their worldly possessions on their backs? 

Is this how my black brothers and sisters feel whenever they encounter a cop? Is this how homeless folks feel whenever they sleep on the streets or in shelters? Is this how my friends in the LGBT community feel whenever they go to school, or a club, or a church? 

Last question – have I done all that I can to assuage the fears of these beloved children of God? 

I’m afraid…not. 

Unhappy Halloween.  



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Shel,
      I'm glad my blog was thought provoking for you. Thanks for reading.