A day I’d rather forget
Thank God I was busy yesterday. I wasn’t able to remember why I hated September 16 so much.
On September 16, 2013, I was informed by the Kansas City Airport Marriott that I was banned from staying there for life. It was claimed that I had attempted to buy alcoholic beverages for female employees.
I was very angry. I would never, ever, eve attempt to cause someone to lose their job, even if I despised the person. That is beneath me and I would never attempt it. And why would I attempt to jeopardize the position of people I liked? I had been staying at that particular hotel regularly since May 2008, and I had come to know and like many of the people there. I cannot believe someone would accuse me of such heinous actions.
I believe one employee of the hotel in particular, Amanda Schelp, was responsible for the ban. That was what hurt more than anything. I first meet Amanda in January 2012, and upon the first time I met her, she offered to take the cart carrying my luggage to my room, since I had a long day of covering a wrestling tournament in Smith Center, and then driving east on US 36. We got to know each other well over the next 18 months, and I came to really like her. Not that I would want to date her, because I would never want to jeopardize her job nor my ability to stay there. I’m thinking she’s the one who led the drive to ban me.
I have thought about the ban every single time I travel to Kansas City. It hurts beyond belief. I want to cry. I want to harm myself. I sometimes have thought about stopping somewhere over the Missouri River and taking the final step. It really hurts. When I travel to Kansas City, if I want to stay near Zona Rosa, I must stay in a lesser quality hotel, or if I want to stay in a Marriott with anywhere near the service of the one at KCI, I have to stay in Overland Park, which is a 30 to 35 minute drive one way. I chose the latter option on many a night during the summer, and more than once, I didn’t get back to the hotel until after 1:30 a.m. I still hate myself because of it. I cannot drive past the airport on I-29, because I will see the hotel. If I have to go to areas north of the airport, like Platte City or St. Joseph,, I detour onto I-435 and take that north until it reaches I-29 in Platte City. I cannot stand to look at that hotel.
Readers–if you want to help me, I would be most grateful. You can reach the hotel at 816-464-2200.
The other reason I dreaded September 16 was it was the birthday of the lady I considered to be one of my closest friends from Louisiana, Brenda LeBlanc.
I met Brenda in 1999 when she was the volleyball coach at St. Joseph’s Academy, the all-girls Catholic high school in Baton Rouge. I already knew her husband, Baton Rouge sportswriter Lee Feinswog, from his days at The Advocate. Brenda and I grew really close over the years when I covered her team for The Advocate, and she went out of her way to make me feel welcome and as much a part of her team’s family as she could. I knew I had to keep my distance somewhat because I was a journalist, but I had more access than most writers could hope to have.
Brenda not only was a wonderful lady, she was the best volleyball coach in Louisiana high school annals. She coached St. Joseph’s to five state championships, the first in 1998, and then four in a row from 2001 through 2004. Prior to coming to St. Joseph’s in 1994, she led Episcopal School of Acadiana to seven consecutive titles from 1987 through 1983. The string of consecutive titles by ESA continued from 1994 through 2002. .Before coaching, Brenda was a standout athlete at Lafayette’s Northside High and Tulane. She retired from coaching following the 2006 season, but she continues to teach physical education at St. Joseph’s.
I had sent Brenda very nice gifts for her birthday, including a $250 Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse gift card in 2005, and then a bouquet of sunflowers in 2010. But we had lost touch through the years, and I had worried to death that she had totally blocked me out of her life.
Thank God I was wrong on that one. She got back to me today and told me we were good. That was a ray of sunshine I badly needed in what has been a very bad time.