Sunday, February 27, 2011

Should I Be Worried?

In Cambodia, the cost of electricity is very high, so forgetting to turn off lights or appliances can rack up bills fairly quickly.  To get around this, our guesthouse asks guests to turn in their key when they leave their room.  It's simple, really.  The room key is just a regular key attached to a credit-card-sized plastic tag.  This tag fits into a slot in a device on the wall just inside our door.  Once the card is removed, the electric circuit shuts off.  You lock the door by simply pushing down the button in the centre of the door knob.  When you return to your room, you unlock your door with your key, put the tag in the slot, and you have electricity again.

Our key with the tag in the electronic slot

We've been staying at MotherHome Guesthouse for about sixty days now.  On any given day, we might go in and out of our room at least three times, so have had approximately 180 opportunities to lock the key in the room.  Given those numbers and the fact that I occasionally experience a brain-dead moment, I'm really proud of the fact that last night was only the second time I screwed up and locked the door without taking the key. 

I knew it as soon as I shut the door.  My heart sank, but then, I remembered how easy it was to get into our room the first time.  The front desk asked the housekeeper to use her master keys, and presto!  So I really don't know why things were different this time..... 

I went to the front desk, and announced I'd locked our key in the room, with an apologetic "Som toh!", Khmer for "Sorry!"  "Meun ay dtay!", "No problem!" was the reply.  (Yeah, right....)

The desk clerk tried every key on that ring of master keys three times, but she could not get our door to open.  Next she called the night maintenance man, who also tried each key twice, but could not find one key on that ring to unlock our door.

If at first you don't succeed,
call in the maintenance man

Now this may seem hard to believe, but just at that exact moment, the man occupying the room next to ours announced that he'd also just locked his key in his room!  "No problem!"  "Meun ay dtay!"  The maintenance man walked over to the next door, opened it easily with one of the master keys, and retrieved the man's key from the electronic slot.  

The desk clerk and the maintenance man exchanged a few words in Khmer that I didn't understand, and the next thing I knew, he was using the key he'd retrieved from the room next door to unlock our door!  The man from the next room was standing right there and saw the whole thing. 

Now I ask you, should I be worried?

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