You Decide: Who Gets the Room?

A friend just called me with a very interesting dilemma that–in my opinion–has no clear answer. After debating it for about 15 minutes without finding a clear answer, I proposed a solution: Let’s put it on the blog and let my readers decide. This is a real life decision that you will impact if you read this entry and vote on it ASAP.

My friend–whom I will call Sally–is attending an upcoming out-of-town conference with a number of her colleagues. Sally’s organization is providing rooms in a nice hotel for the entire group.

Before the organization booked the rooms, Sally requested a single room in the off chance that any were available (most of her colleagues are sharing rooms). She figured it couldn’t hurt to ask–after all, it’s a nice luxury to have a hotel rohotel-room-2om to yourself.

Unbeknownst to Sally, another one of her colleagues–a woman we’ll call Octavia who Sally doesn’t know well–also requested a single room. Octavia has a boyfriend who offered to join her on the conference trip to celebrate her birthday, and they hoped to “celebrate” the occasion (if you know what I mean, wink wink) in a room of their own. I’m envisioning some amount of roleplay ala Mr. & Mrs. Smith, maybe some ice tickling, and at least one Reverse Willy Wonka if they’re flexible.

But that’s beside the point. You see where this is headed. Both Sally and Octavia were told that getting a single room “shouldn’t be a problem,” and they made plans accordingly.

When the room assignments were decided (to our knowledge, by sheer randomness–no preference or favorites), Sally got a single room and Octavia did not. This is when Sally learned of Octavia’s existence. Octavia e-mailed Sally and asked her if she would switch places with her. Sally would room with another person she doesn’t know, and Octavia and her boyfriend would have full use of pay-per-view erotica all to themselves.

Just to clarify: I am not Sally or Octavia. Those are not code names for my cats. This really is about a friend. I want to make that perfectly clear.

So the dilemma: What should Sally do? On one hand, she could keep the room. Luck of the draw, she might as well enjoy herself. Objectively, Octavia doesn’t deserve the room more than Sally, nor did she offer anything in exchange. If Octavia really wanted a single room, she could purchase one with her boyfriend. After all, the boyfriend is getting a free ride (in more than one way). If Sally gave up the room, she would essentially be saving Octavia $300 for the cost of a room. Also, it’s not like the boyfriend lives in the destination city. He lives in the same town as Octavia (possibly even with her, for all we know). They can have sleepovers every night.

On the other hand, Sally could give up the room. It would be a nice gesture, and Octavia and her boyfriend would get full use of the privacy beyond what Sally would gain from the experience. I told Sally that it’s likely I would give up the room if I were in this scenario, but in all honesty, I would probably hold it against Octavia for asking for quite some time. I’m not even the type to hold grudges, but when I come really close to getting something awesome and then it’s taken away from me, I don’t forget it. This is true: I still remember the time a kid in my fourth-grade class grabbed a root beer dum-dum hard candy from a selection of candies in the middle of my table group before I could get to it even though he was late getting back from lunch and I could have taken it before he sat down but I didn’t because I was being polite and considerate and I figured that we would at least have some sort of a discussion at our table group to see if anyone else treasured the root beer flavor as much as I did. Instead I got purple (i.e., the flavor of disappointment).

As with any decision, there are many gray areas here, many variables. But really it comes down to a simple decision: Should Sally keep the room to herself, or should she give it to Octavia? I expect you, as unbiased third-party voters, to cast your vote for what you think Sally should do. I don’t benefit from either answer, and you don’t know Sally. Feel free to support your vote in the comments section.


23 Responses to “You Decide: Who Gets the Room?”

  1. Ansley says:

    I think she should keep the room because it’s not really even kosher to invite a boyfriend/girlfriend to a work thing and expect them to be taken care of. If they want a single room, they should pony up.

    Sorry, Octavia.

    Have fun, Sally.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Just so we can be clear, is “pony up” a sexual maneuver you’re recommending to Octavia and her boyfriend, or are you saying they should pay for their own room? Or both?

      • Ansley says:

        Well, both. The “pony up” method has worked wonders in my life and I feel that, should Octavia and said boyfriend have to pay for their own room, they should make the most of their room and the “pony up” move.

  2. Sarah says:

    It feels good to do something nice for a stranger.

    • Sarah says:

      Oh goodness. I in *no* way meant that as a double entendre.
      I just mean that giving your sandwich to a hungry person, or giving a donation to a charity, or giving your room to someone because it’s her birthday is a nice thing to do. Niceness feels good. It is its own reward.

      And Jamey, I suggest you recast the rootbeer candy incident. Maybe the boy was having a horrible day. Maybe he was late back from lunch because he peed his pants and didn’t have a fresh loin cloth to change into. Maybe after lurking in the bathroom in a cloud of his own urea-stink, he came back into the classroom on a walk of shame, saw the candy, and grabbed the brown one reflexively because he found it to be a reassuring reminder that even though he had no bladder continence at least he hadn’t pooped himself. Remember it that way.

      • Jamey Stegmaier says:

        Double entendre win!

        As for the root beer incident, I think it stands out because I had convinced myself at the time that I *deserved* the root beer candy, moreso than the other kid because he was late. I should have framed it differently. The grape flavor I got certainly didn’t help matters.

  3. She should definitely keep the room. In this situation, I would probably give up the room, much like you, just to be accommodating. But that’s just in my nature and I would always know that I deserved that room. Sally, keep that room. Octavia can bring her boyfriend over to the other room. Her roommate can just deal, or join in. It’s not gay if it’s in a three way.

  4. dK says:

    Not to sound too corporate, but this is an incredible networking opportunity for Sally. In exchange for giving up a room that would obviously be nice to have by herself, she creates a relationship with an unknown person that could provide unknown potential- and Octavia is in her debt. Might be worth the switch just to see what could develop.

    That said, I agree with Ansley that it’s fairly unprofessional to invite a playmate to a work event and expect everyone else to change their plans and expectations to fit their priorities. No one would blame Sally for keeping the room to herself.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      dK–You bring up a good point here, not just in terms of networking, but in terms of companionship (having a roommate versus not having a roommate).

  5. Jasmin says:

    I have a few questions in mind.
    1. How did Octavia ask Sally over email? Why did Octavia ask Sally on phone or in-person if it’s important?
    2. Why did Octavia’s boyfriend offer to go on this business trip with her? Is her business paying for her boyfriend, too? Isn’t that illegal and can get her fire? I know my cousin-in-law goes on business trips a lot and my cousin sometimes joins him after all his business stuff. She would pay for the travels to meet up with him. For me, traveling with one’s other half for a business matter and the business rooming the both is unheard of, unless you are part of the Oprah “family”. She took her people and their families on a trip once. All included vacation.
    3. Will Sally feel bad about handing over something she wanted to someone who need and then regret it? Regret not forever, but stick around and occasionally remember it? Doing good deed is awesome when you doing from your heart. You are 100% willing to sacrifice.

    If it was me, I would say no. It’s unfair to me is the bottom line. It’s business trip, not a vacation. The boyfriend can book another room. He should be able to afford one. He coming up with you on the trip is a private matter. Business organizations have no business in rooming couples unless it’s a couple therapy/couple retreat business.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Jasmin:

      1. You don’t think it’s okay to ask important things over e-mail? If Octavia had called Sally, she really would have put her on the spot.

      2. I don’t think it’s illegal, but it is unprofessional. I think sometimes it’s fine for a spouse to accompany you on a business trip, but their presence shouldn’t affect anything the organization does.

      • Jasmin says:

        Well, I guess depends on what you are asking over the email. You can always say you’ll think about it and then call her back.

        I thought of a possible solution. They can share that room. Sally can take the room for the first half of the conference and Octavia can take the room for the rest of the conference. Sally can do some networking for the rest of the time when sharing a room with other coworker. Does that sound silly?

  6. T-Mac says:

    I don’t think I can fairly weigh in on this question without understanding how important the single room is to Sally. When I put myself in this scenario, I give up the room and feel good about doing something nice for someone else. I feel slightly bummed that I didn’t get the single room, but I move on. However, I travel for business about once or twice per month. If this is the only business trip Sally will ever go on and/or the only time she’ll stay in a hotel for a few years, maybe my answer would be different. Maybe then she lies about how her juice fast is causing wicked explosive diahrrea, and how no roommate should be subjected to that. Maybe she finds a way to break up Octavia and her boyfriend, so this question is no longer an issue. (e.g., “Sure, Octavia. You can have the room. Just out of curiosity, what’s your boyfriend’s name..[Fill in name]…Oh, wait. This [Fill in Name]? [Pulls out phone with picture of boyfriend.] I went on a date with him last month! We know the same guy. Is this a new relationship? No? Oh, Octavia. I’m so sorry you had to find out this way!…and so on.)

    Anyway, to me, the answer is tied to the value that Biddy…er…Sally, places on this opportunity for herself.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Trev–That’s a good question. I don’t know the exact answer, but based on my conversation with Sally, it sounds like she has had the experience of having a hotel room to herself in the past, and she’s really enjoyed it. I would wager that she will have that opportunity in the future maybe once or twice a year.

  7. Charles says:

    I didn’t vote, but I’ll comment – depends on Sally. If she’s on the fence enough to ask for advice, I’d say she should give up the room and enjoy the trip. I’ve done enough travel that a room is a room is a room, unless it is a suite in a REALLY nice hotel.

    All things being equal, she shouldn’t feel bad regardless of which choice she makes.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Charles–That’s a fair point. If Sally’s gut reaction wasn’t to give up the room, that says something.

  8. T-Mac says:

    Jamey, after reading the other comments, I can see only one fair way to settle this…one of your favorite pastimes. Sally gets Prima Nocte with the boyfriend. Octavia gets the room.

  9. Sally says:

    Thanks for all your advice. Sally is keeping the room, mostly because Octavia never said please. Also, I’m a little afraid to ask, but what is Prima nocte?

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