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Wake Me Up Before You Go, Girl
By Denise McCluggage

The text for today is:  WAKE-UP CALLS (real, not metaphorical).

Two things about wake-up calls in hotels: You want to get the right one at the right time. And you DO NOT want to get any other at any other time.

Elementary, you think?

A fine, freshly refurbished old hotel in Scottsdale managed to flub both ends of that during a two-night stay of mine. The first morning I was aroused from a comatose state by a clanging telephone: A preternaturally bright voice announced: “This is the wake-up call you requested. It is 3:30 am.” I think they told me the temperature, too, but I was too groggy to care.

I had left no call.

Maybe it had been that of the previous night’s tenant who had a very early flight. Or maybe a mistaken room number. Though the call wasn’t mine it managed to work well and I found it impossible to go back to sleep until minutes before my own alarm went off.

The next night I did leave a  call as a back-up  for  my alarm.    I had a flight to catch.

My internal alarm aroused me before my clock did but the hotel call never came, which I explained to them as I checked out suggesting that their wake-up service needed some fine-tuning. They said they were installing an automated one. Good luck.

Advice when leaving a wake-up call:

  • Make sure the operator has the correct room.

  • Make sure that not only the time but the a.m. or p.m. is right. (If you asked to be aroused from a nap and the p.m. part isn’t clear you might miss dinner.)

  • If the hotel uses an automated service in which you punch in the time to be called, double-check yourself.

Why bother with phone calls, you may ask, when most hotel rooms now have clock radios anyway?


A teacher of design in a San Diego college assigns each of his classes the task of designing a clock radio that is easy to program, fool-proof and can be set accurately in the dark. Either none of his students accomplished the feat or none went into the business upon graduation.

My advice: unplug the blasted things upon arrival. Two reasons: One, this now frees up a plug so you can recharge your cell phone or laptop. Two: you are quite likely to be awakened by a crackling sound or loud music not of your choice because someone else managed to set a time but didn’t bother to turn it off.

My advice for being awakened on the road: Carry your own tried and true, simple to operate and cheap alarm clock. (Cheap so no great loss if you leave it in some hotel and cheap so you can afford several - one for each suitcase so it is always packed whether you remembered or not.)

I have a travel alarm that is tiny, handsome and quite expensive. It was a gift. I leave it at home on the dresser where I can admire it. The instructions accompanying it are not quite as long as Dr Zhivago but are as difficult to understand pre-translation.

What I did was search Kmart and Walgreen’s to find a clock with big letters, a press-button light, an alarm loud enough to do its job and a simple, intuitive path to setting it. Its cover folds out to create a stand. Folded it is small and flat and easy to tuck in small places. I found several that would do the trick, none above $15.

After I road-tested my $10 clock I bought several more.

What time would you like your wake-up call?