The West Wing

Posted on September 20, 2014 under Storytelling with no comments yet


I could see the golf course from “The West Wing”



I was recently invited to attend a gathering of business colleagues on Prince Edward Island. As I am on the cusp of retirement ( in 30 years or so), I don’t attend many of these functions any more.  My days of late nights and many drinks are well behind me.  I love the expression one of my friends , who gave up drinking, uses: “I reached my quota”.  The event, of course, included golf.  Sad to say, I used up all my good shots many moons ago.  And I have listened to one too many speakers drone on at conferences.  You know that feeling, like your head is in a vise.

So why exactly did I agree to go? Because some very nice people invited me to join my business partners in a discussion on succession planning.  We think we’ve done a pretty good job with our strategy.  Luckily most of the attendees haven’t given up drinking.  They made need a few after we’re through with them. Or before.

One of my business partners  picked me up on one of the more dreary mornings of the summer. Yes, it’s technically still summer. It poured rain and it was foggy as we approached the ferry terminal at Caribou.  “Do you think we will get on?” he quipped.  I peered through the mist as we passed the booth that normally houses someone directing you to the proper lane.  I had to squint, as failing eyesight is one of the many joys of aging.

About a 9 iron away, I saw three cars in a lineup. Yes, our chances were excellent that we would get on the early boat.

We had a smooth passage and meandered slowly through hill and dale behind two trucks hauling horses. Despite the threat of road rage from Shane, we arrived in one piece at Brudenell.

We had lunch with several other guests. Respectfully, the boys all waited until 12:02 before having their first drink of the day.  It certainly wouldn’t be their last.  I was quite impressed that Shane chose a heart healthy lunch of dark rum and coke and fiery chicken wings.  I guess when you’ve had your gall bladder removed, anything goes.

Despite my chronically ailing back, I decided to golf. I had the pleasure of sharing a cart with Steve.  Shane and Paul rounded out the foursome.  The weather had settled down.  In fact, it was unseasonably warm during the early afternoon.  Rory McIlroy needn’t be threatened by the calibre of golf in this group, despite some impressive shots off an illegal driver that Shane was using.  At one point I offered a piece of advice to Paul, who seemed to be fighting a losing battle with the bunkers.  He successfully extricated himself from the sand trap.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the ball was last seen flying over Montague.

A combination of my sore back, the return of the driving rain and my less than stellar golf prowess convinced me that the hot tub was the place to be. I packed in in after nine holes, the farthest point from the clubhouse at Dundarave.  Mercifully, a course marshal helped me to find my way back to civilization.  When he was certain that I wouldn’t get lost, he cut the tether and I was on my own.  I clutched my new Blackberry Q5 and was about to hit “maps” when the clubhouse appeared off in the distance.

I went to the front desk to check in. “Mr. MacDonald, here is your room key. You will be in the West Wing.”

I have done my fair share of travelling over the years and have stayed at some pretty fancy addresses. To demonstrate how sophisticated and urbane I am, I even know exactly where Steve’s house is in Spryfield.  My daughter lives right around the corner.  He admitted that his choice of neighborhood included walking distance to both the liquor store and McDonald’s.

I was impressed that the conference organizer, Cathy,  would bestow an honor like this upon me by choosing me for this prestigious address at the hotel. I wondered if champagne and chocolates would be waiting for me in my room.  It’s nice when people respect their elders and offer them the very best in accommodations.

Have you ever tried to haul a trolley through a door that doesn’t open automatically, carrying enough baggage to make a Himalayan voyage seem like a trip to the cottage? I quickly discovered that to get to the West Wing, you had to go through the hotel, back out into the rain and across a creaking deck to another set of doors that don’t open automatically.

I approached the door with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation, made a successful entry and headed to the royal suite.

I almost expected a chorus of trumpeters to greet me.

The TV didn’t work and a light bulb was burnt out. Instead of dialing up the maître de, I called maintenance.

And there wasn’t any chocolate or champagne. Just a few bags of chips.

I thought about asking for a cabin, but realized that this was a very bad idea as it was likely that the young bucks in the group would be there, gearing up for the night ahead.

I planned to go for a long soak in the hot tub but that would have required taking the elevator, exiting the building and crossing the groaning planks one more time … in the rain.

On second thought, a hot shower will do just fine.



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