Monday, February 27, 2012

Texting while walking: A cautionary tale

This was our hotel room as the Blissdom conference this weekend.

This? Was not our room.

These pieces of information are important to the story I'm about to tell.

* * * *

On Friday afternoon, I wandered through the hills and jungles of the Gaylord Opryland, headed for a little down time. Inspired and a little overwhelmed by the day's sessions, my mind was zeroed in on my phone, feet on autopilot as I sent some texts.

Stepping onto the elevator, I barely glanced up to punch the Level 2 button. The doors opened, someone got on and I walked off, rounded the appropriate corners in the hallway, and scanned the approaching room signs for a 157 suffix. Arriving at the door, I hit Send on a message to Mark and pulled out my key card.

The lock beeped its welcome as I slid the card confidently in and back out, lifting my heavy bags and walking in to the freshly cleaned room. This was my mental dialogue in the next few seconds:

"Oh, how sweet! The housekeeper lined up my shoes under the bed."

"Wait...those aren't my shoes. Odd."

"Hmm...that's not my suitcase either."

"And that's not Megan's suitcase..."

I'm certain that every person reading this story is currently several steps ahead of where I was in that moment. Because rather than realizing that I was in the WRONG BLASTED ROOM, my mental haze sent me in a different direction:

"Oh my gosh...someone took our stuff! And replaced it with someone else's stuff! Why would they...where did they...what do I..."

(and then, suddenly)


Scrambling to the door, I yanked it back open to confirm the yep - wrong floor situation, and leaped back into the hallway, praying that the elderly woman strolling by was not the occupant of the room I'd just been standing in. Because what would I say? "Sorry! My key worked! I really don't walk around trying it in all the rooms! Nice shoes!"

* * * *

Here are my takeaways from this situation:

1. I have no business attempting to multitask.

2. The lovely folks at the Gaylord Opryland might want to tweak their security protocol. Because hotel guests cannot apparently be depended upon to pay attention to pesky details like floors and full room numbers. Sometimes they stumble around like idiots, trying their keys every which where and walking right in.

3. Thank you God that I did not walk into the middle of someone's nap. Or shower. Or...other activity. Awkward.

4. Also, thank you God for sane friends like Megan, who - when I dragged her down to the first floor with me to collect pictorial evidence for this post, and had a sudden urge to take a picture of the inside of a room that wasn't mine - gently suggested no, maybe not.

Ironically, as I packed to leave Nashville yesterday morning, a news story on Channel 5 caught my attention. The subject? A recent study on the dangers of texting and walking.

“We were surprised to find that talking and texting on a cell phone were so disruptive to one’s gait and memory recall of the target location,” says Eric M. Lamberg, PT, EdD, co-author of the study and Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University.

Oh Eric, I'm not surprised at all. But I do feel very validated.

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