I traveled twice from the greater Philadelphia area to the former East Germany in 2010 to attend two shows in Peter Gabriel’s New Blood tour. The first city was in Berlin and the second was in Leipzig. I traveled despite a fear of flying and being heavily German-impaired. But I did manage to figure out my hotel room in Berlin and almost all of my hotel room in Leipzig.
Located in the wall next to a conventional push-button light switch was a metal key. A proper key, too, perhaps an inch long. It was just sticking out of the wall. Okay, to be specific, it was sticking out of a light switch panel, but instead of an on-off switch, there was a key. Directly above the key was a clear plastic round thingy. I dared to touch the round thingy and it didn’t move. Felt solid as Gibraltar.
What Is This?
This was how tired I was after my trans-Atlantic flight. I arrived on Sunday afternoon and didn’t notice the metal key sticking out of the wall until Monday. The key ring reminded me of a pair of old lamps I had as a child. They were electric lamps, but instead of a switch, you had to turn a small metal key in order to operate the lamp. I looked about but there weren’t any lamps. I already had a key to the room and the hotel itself.
Sometimes hotels come with safes. I looked all about the room and couldn’t find a safe.
I wondered if the key had something to do with the television, but I managed to get the television working.
I actually started talking to the key. I was traveling alone, so this is normal behavior for me. “For crying out loud,” I said, “what am I supposed to do with you? Start up the hotel and take it for a drive around the block?”
The key had no comment. Perhaps because I wasn’t speaking German.
I suppose by now you are wondering why I didn’t just turn the key and see what happened. Well, I was too scared of what could happen, quite frankly. Who knows? I could’ve turned the key and the hotel could’ve exploded. Or perhaps it was a secret key just for moronic American tourists. Every time you turned it, another ten Euro was added to your hotel bill.
I wasn’t bothered with it until my panic attack started. Remember I mentioned about flying all the way to Leipzig even though I’m terrified of airplanes and airports just to see a Peter Gabriel concert? I also was attending that day’s rehearsal. However, in order to get into the rehearsal, one needs to produce both a passport and an email with a conformation code on it.
Guess what I forgot to pack? That’s right – the email. The night before the rehearsal and concert, I tore that room and my luggage apart looking for that darn email. By now I was in a complete panic. Perhaps the key was sentient and jumped out of the wall and ate my email while I was in the toilet. Have I also mentioned that I’m a Stephen King fan?
I managed to get a copy of the email the next day by a hotel staff worker that had a laptop. I then accessed my AOL saved mail file and there the precious do-hickey was. So, in between the time I had from discovering the e-mail the missing to when I had a copy in my hands was about 12 hours. In that time, my panic-stricken mind kept string at the key in the wall. This was the former East Germany. Perhaps it was a camera. I’m sure my 12 hour panic attack provided sufficient entertainment.
Why Not Ask The Hotel Staff?
By now, gentle reader, you are probably wondering why I didn’t ask the hotel staff why there was a key sticking out of my wall.
Keep in mind that the staff discovered that I had traveled from Philadelphia to Leipzig in order to watch Peter Gabriel (who was English and not German) and I FORGOT to pack the email that acts as the golden ticket for the performance. I also discovered that laptops work much differently than desktops and so what should have been a five minute task took me 45 minutes to do.
Believe me, they already thought I was an absolute idiot. I did not need to supply them with any further ammunition.
I did briefly consider asking Peter himself when I met him during my trip, since he’s a veteran of East German hotel rooms but I had a bad feeling he’d tell me to go ask the hotel staff, which I already explained that I couldn’t do. Besides, how about if he never noticed keys in the wall before? And then he’d get paranoid about them just like me and then have to cancel all future tours because of sinister hotel room keys. I couldn’t risk it.
So, if anyone knows why there was a key sticking out of the wall in my Leipzig hotel room, please, for Pete’s sakes, tell me.