Dismal Start to Essex Reunion Weekend

I write this with a heavy heart. Arrived at the university at 6.45 picked up mine and Matthew’s keys, and got go ahead to collect all other keys at 8.00am on Friday. All looking good. Lug my suitcase and rucksack from the car all the way down the last building in the South Counts and enter the 4 digit key code at the front door. Light stays red door does not open. Confusion. Have I got the wrong building? – open Matthew’s envelope to check if he had a different key code, keep entering code.

What the fuck?

Lug suitcase and rucksack all the way back to the car and return to the conference office. Explain situation to student helper. She disappears behind screen and I hear much muttering – soon becomes clear I am not the only one today to be having problems getting into my flat.

Eventually girl returns and says she must come with me back to the flat to check. I notice an envelope with my name for 8am collection, and I insist on collecting it now. At least I have everyone’s keys. We walk back and she enters the code confirming it does not work. She calls security and explains to me that there is nothing she can do. Only security can open the door and they will come and let me in. “You don’t need to go out again the evening do you?” she sheepishly asks.

I go into stern mode and explain that I shall need to go out and get back in at least 4 times this evening, and am I expected to get security to let me in each time. “Yes” she says. I explain that this is completely unacceptable I have paid for a room, and can’t gain access. What is she going to do about it? Apparently nothing – it is clear she is completely out of her depth, and she wanders off leaving me with the number of the security desk. After 30 minutes of waiting I call the desk to get an update. Apologies – some other emergency to deal with they are on their way.

Eventually security arrives in their truck, and I explain that I need them to take me in their truck to the car park to get my luggage. I also explain, still in stern mode, that after this I shall be going to Tescos, and they will need to return to let me in then, and also I have another guest arriving late evening who I need to meet, and again they will need to let me in. They are clearly agitated and explain that this problem with the key codes happens every year, and they say I can’t come in their truck since they are not allowed to take passengers. They soon realise that I am getting in the truck regardless of their concerns and off we go to pick up my luggage.

So I finally get in the flat and can evacuate my bladder.

When I leave to go to the supermarket to get some provisions I note they have shown some common sense and used a rock to hold the door open. Clearly they recognised the need to step up and show some initiative. So I was starting to feel back on track and zoomed off to get the supplies.

On returning I emptied the shopping bags and started to search for the toaster, cutlery, crockery etc – and as I opened one cupboard after another it slowing dawned on me that our self catering flat had been emptied of anything that could be used to prepare food or beverages.

Disaster, and Matthew was arriving on the 9.45 from Liverpool St having not eaten since I had promised tea and toast.

Whilst waiting for his arrival I pen a strongly worded email to the conference office explaining what needs to be done first thing in the morning.

I really hope tomorrow goes a bit better than today.

One small consolation: free WiFi.

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