As one steeped in the manners of my native rural Deep South, I should have known better when I visited Manhattan last week. But, wooed by the seductive allures of “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” I had to learn my lesson. Thank God it ended OK, but not until I came to my “Country boy can survive” senses. Here’s what happened.crowne-plaza.jpg

When we arrived in the city, we had to check our bags with the bell captain at the Crown Plaza Hotel on Broadway because we arrived a little early for check-in. We took a stroll around the neighborhood to get a feel for the surroundings (that’s another country boy tendency, by the way: to analyze surroundings, especially in unfamiliar environments.) When check-in time came, we reported back to the bell captain, clutching our claim tickets to gather our bags to head to the room. But the bell captain gruffly rebuffed us, asking what room we were in. “Go on to your room. We weel bring dem up,” he ordered.

I didn’t really feel good about that, but I figured, “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” so we caught the elevator and occupied our room. A few moments later, the bell hop knocked and delivered our bags. Of course, we tipped him generously. (Isn’t that what one does “When in Rome?”)

OK, New York, I’m playing your game your way. It worked out OK, but I still didn’t feel right about letting someone else do what I could so easily have done for myself.

The real test came the next day when I had to claim the LCD projector I had Fed Ex’ed to the hotel in advance so I wouldn’t have to drag that extra baggage through the airports. This projector was a vital piece of equipment, for I was on the program the next afternoon with a colleague from Mississippi, and we were depending on that projector for showing our PowerPoint presentation on “Strengthening State Networks.”presentation-marriott.jpg

I went downstairs to the Business Center and things started off well enough. The attendant there looked on the FedEx receipt log and found my package had arrived the preceding Friday. He made a phone call and told me I could go on up to my room, for the package with my projector would be delivered shortly.

So up I went and waited. After a short time, “Knock, knock.” The bell hop held out a package and asked, “Ees dis yours?”

I looked at the label on the package: “David Pighetti.”

“No, buddy, that’s not me,” I replied, as I explained how me and this Pighetti were both named after a famous Hebrew king, but we spell my last names differently. He left, declaring he’d be back with the right package shortly.

I sighed and went back into the room. A few moments later, the phone rang.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Meester Pulling, we find your package. Eet weel be in de room where you are going to give your pree-sentation.”

“Uh oh,” I stated. “My presentation is not in this hotel. It’s at the Marriot two blocks down the street. So you really need to tell me where my projector is.”

I really don’t know if the fellow understood half of what I said. He was English handicapped, fairly obviously. Now mind you, I don’t object to accents and second languages. I can manage fairly well in French and even hold my own in Spanish, and I admire anyone who can speak a second language. But at this point in this situation, the linguistics were not working in my favor.

Sounding kind of lost, the fellow told me he was transferring me to Banquet Services. I was quite at a loss as to why, but I allowed the phone to ring and ring and ring at Banquet Services. When the Banquet Services voice mail recording picked up, the Country Boy in me came to life.

I deposited the phone receiver on its cradle and looked at my colleague, who was marveling all the while at this unfolding saga.

“Doggone it,” I declared, “I was raised under the teaching that if you have a job to get done and you have the power to do it yourself, you should just take the bull by the horns and do it!”

So off I charged to the elevator. I descended to the Business Center where this escapade began, related the string of mishaps to the attendant there, and before long was received by the manager of Banquet Services who led me to a room on the 15th floor where I found my package.

Did I suggest he call someone to bring it to my room? Did I ask for any help at all?

Of course not. A country boy can survive! I gathered that box up in my arms and took it upstairs to the room. The projector worked admirably for our presentation the next day, and all ended well.

I did have the option of returning the projector to Louisiana by FedEx so again I wouldn’t have to lug it around the airport. But when I heard someone tell how the FedEx shipping line at the hotel was thirty minutes long, I kicked myself and remembered: “I can do this job myself!” So I packed the projector with my bags and brought it back to Louisiana under my own power.

For, you see, a country boy can survive! (And he can also carry his own bags!)