Today I bit the bullet, and decided to travel to one of my favourite cities, Toronto, to meet up with a dear friend (and to once again hope that Ryan Gosling is visiting his home country and idling in hotel bars chatting to random fellow Commonwealth citizens). Little did I know that this would put me on a collision course with none other than Mr Donald Trump, or at, least, the tower of tackiness which bears his name.
As per my Single Ladies Travel Policy, I decided to book a high class hotel so I could soak in the spa for a bit before what will inevitably be a wine-soaked, action-packed weekend of debauchery and fried food. However, I am one of those people who has, as my mother puts it, "champagne taste on a beer budget". Therefore I booked one of those "mystery" hotels, you know - where you only have vague details before you make the booking, in return for a large discount. These bookings are, of course, strictly non-refundable, non-changeable, and non-transferrable. This is made very clear before you book, while you book, and after you book. And in the fine print. And also if you email their customer service. And if you live chat their customer service.
None of this worried me. Previously when I've tried mystery hotels, I ended up at the Ritz-Carlton in the middle of the Toronto Film Festival, with my neighbours including Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux and various small dogs. So, enthusiastically I entered my requirements: 5 star, downtown Toronto, must have spa, etc. What could possibly go wrong?
I pressed "BOOK HOTEL", absolutely confident that I had just paid for the Ritz-Carlton, or maybe some fancy boutique hotel with a heated pool and a tv in the bathroom. The confirmation email came back with the following sentence at the top: "You've got a great deal!" it said. So far so good. "Your hotel is Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto." My reaction was: utter panic. Seriously. Panic. (If you do not know why, may I suggest you Google the words "Trump misogynist presidential election racist bigoted is this really happening?")
The first thing that crossed my mind was just not showing up. Upon consulting my friend who will be staying there with me, we considered pranking the hotel continuously. Or live tweeting. Or at least threatening to live tweet if they didn't let us out of this. Maybe we could stay there as a joke? A very...expensive joke? I know! I could enlist Greenpeace. Maybe they could lend us some climbers to hang an anti-Trump banner down the side of the building? (My friend Brad suggested we get them to build a giant green toupée to perch precariously atop the tower instead. Now that would have struck terror into the hearts of the good people of Toronto! Oh wait. That's not our objective here.).
I imagined reclining in the Trump Spa, which in my head is basically solid gold. Inaccurate, according to the website, but basically, apart from all the misogyny, racism, hate-mongering, and terrible terrible hair, this is the image in my head every time I think of Trump:
So I decided to attempt the impossible, and get a refund. I called the help line. A very nice lady answered - and my heart brightened. She had an accent...she was a fellow immigrant. Maybe she would understand, where her colleagues responding via email and chat had not. I breathlessly explained that I could NOT stay in a building with the word TRUMP on the side. That I was ideologically opposed. That I would rather pay for another room at another hotel and leave this one empty than set a single foot into that monument to populist rhetoric and follicular horror. (I never said I wasn't dramatic).
"I have to inform you," she said, "that these bookings are definitely non-refundable, non-changeable and non-transferrable." I inhaled, ready to launch another plea. Or cry. "BUT." I waited. "BUT....I am willing to make a one time exception since you booked within the last hour. Did you have another hotel in mind?" I love this woman. It was so clear that she was going out of her way, but probably she knew that if we collectively pay Trump or his licensees we're all going to be emigrating to Toronto soon anyway.
So the lesson of today is: if you're a misogynist bigot, it's going to hit you in the wallet. You might not notice now, but hopefully if there are enough people like me and that customer service lady, we can avoid the Trumpocalypse.
Also don't forget - by many standards,Trump actually has less financial acumen than the much-maligned Paris Hilton (look it up). And that's a hotel chain I would still actually stay in.