Is the battery half full or half empty?

Is the battery half full or half empty?

 

I open the hotel room door, gaze at my temporary home and immediately wonder where they are.

Are there any behind the bed? Will I have to pull the mattress away from the headboard to find them? Wait, here are two on the nightstand and a third affixed to the bedside reading lamp. Moving to the desk, I see four — yes FOUR — of the little buggers just to the right of the complimentary notepad. And I just stepped on two more by the swivel chair. They are literally everywhere.

Finally, I head to the bathroom. It doesn’t take long to locate one perched mere inches from the hair dryer. But two more next to the toilet? Now that is strange.

Yet wonderful at the same time.

The phone rings. A female hotel manager is on the line. “Mr. Schwem, is everything with your room satisfactory?”

“It’s more than satisfactory,” I reply. “It’s outstanding! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for providing a room with so many outlets.”

“Uh, you’re welcome,” comes the now slightly nervous reply, as if she were next expecting me to praise the room for its abundance of toilet paper. “Let us know if you require anything else.”

Why would I? What more does the modern day traveler need other than power? While other hotel guests comb the floor on their hands and knees searching for bedbugs, I am only looking for receptacles for my iPad, laptop, cellphone, digital camera, e-book and whatever else requires an intermittent jolt of electricity to keep me informed, entertained and connected. There are ways to deal with bedbugs; a dead BlackBerry is another story.

Finding an outlet can give me the same satisfaction that I felt when I discovered a $20 bill left in a San Francisco ATM tray. What’s worse than powering up and seeing the dreaded diagonal line through the now-red battery icon, signaling the end is near? Nothing, that’s what! Witness the poor sap in the airport, open laptop precariously perched on his palm, frantically looking for a chair — any chair — with an outlet in reach. When seats aren’t to be found, the floor will do. I have seen business executives in thousand-dollar suits seated among gum wrappers, cigarette butts and trash that appears to be alive while they wait for tablet PCs to recharge so they can continue editing that spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation.

Some airports have taken pity on these hapless individuals, installing “charging stations” in between gates. I’ve seen as many as eight people standing at these electronic watering holes, tethered to cords and anxiously looking at their watches, wondering how much more time before their power ordeal is completed. Sadly, they resemble the human equivalent of an electric car after it has been returned to the garage.

While in Las Vegas recently, I found my wife, an avid slot player, seated at a machine that I knew was not to her liking.

“Why are you playing this one?” I asked.

Then I saw the iPhone, ubiquitous white cord attached, sitting nearby and growing progressively brighter.

“Never mind,” I said, realizing that a fully charged iPhone might end up costing her more than the phone itself, if she continued pumping quarters into the machine.

I’m not proud of it, but I have, on occasion, returned from business trips and beelined directly to my home office to charge my phone, nestling it snugly in its charging dock as if to say, “There there, you’re safe now.”

THEN I hug my kids.

Pathetic, isn’t it? I have two children saying, “Daddy we missed you” and my actions are saying, “I missed you, too. But I also missed the ability to text.”

Technology manufacturers have picked up on our addiction to power. Newer and greater versions of everything electronic always tout more battery life. “EIGHT HOURS ON A SINGLE CHARGE” was a bullet point prominently displayed on my new laptop’s packaging. Of course, I soon realized that the claim was true only if you didn’t actually use the laptop for anything. There should have been a second bullet point: “Two hours if you are watching a movie.”

And a third one: “Laptop is guaranteed to go dark during pivotal, climactic scene.”

I am now leaving my hotel. First, I must make sure every AC adapter has been removed from the various outlets for how many times have I called the front desk the following day and said, “Uh, if you found a charging cord behind the love seat in room such and such, can you send it back please? Here’s my Fed Ex number.”

I think I have all six. All were surging power through their various devices overnight, which means I should have 100 percent charges on everything, correct? Good thing, because I just received a text saying my flight is two hours delayed.

Somewhere Benjamin Franklin is laughing.

Originally posted by Tribune Media Services

COPYRIGHT © 2012 GREG SCHWEM

DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.