Better to take a short, affordable vacation than slog through the hot summer without any break, right? Well…sort of. Maybe Labor Day weekend wasn’t the best time for a nest escape. Or perhaps Gurney’s Inn wasn’t the best place for Henry and me (though it had been fully booked by other people who probably loved it). Upon checkout, we actually overheard one man asking for “the same room next year.”
In the unlikely event that Henry and I return to Gurney’s Inn, we will definitely NOT request Room 533. The first time I used the toilet—after 3 ½ hours of barely tolerable traffic—the flushometer came off in my hand! Instead of going straight to the beach, we began our weekend vacation by waiting for the plumber. After the toilet was working and we were ready to lounge by the ocean, Henry discovered that the in-room safe was broken too. Finally, at 4:30 PM, when we arrived at the beach and asked for chairs and towels, the deck person on duty warned: “We’re planning to close up the beach at 5:30 PM.” (At a beach resort where it’s light until nearly 8PM?!) No, neither a tsunami nor a hurricane was expected, no rationale at all was offered. Somehow we managed to “relax” till 6 PM and left at our own pace.
Moving on from mechanical issues, on Friday night, the hostess at Gurney’s restaurant briskly informed us that “there was a 20 minute wait” for our 8:30 PM reservations. No apology or explanation was offered. I asked to speak to a manager, and Amir arrived to repeat the same bad news to us and all the other unfortunate folks waiting with 8:30 reservations. “Nobody wants to sit outside because it’s chilly, so that’s why we’re behind. We’ve lost 30% of our capacity,” he lamented.
What happened to the words “I’m sorry”? Never uttered.
“You’re from New York,” the manager stated instead. “You know how restaurants work…”
“I don’t make reservations at restaurants that don’t honor them,” I replied irritably.
Our argument escalated. By the time Amir offered me a drink, I was threatening him with a bad review in this blog. “Go for it.” He challenged. “I’ll give you my full name and you can Google me and see all the restaurants I’ve worked for in New York.” (!!)
Under normal circumstances, Henry and I would have walked out and gone to another restaurant. But on Labor Day weekend in the Hamptons, we couldn’t hope to eat before midnight in any restaurant without a reservation.
After we sat down (earlier than expected because Amir wanted to get rid of me), we had a really nice waiter who brought me a delicious and much needed glass of red wine. The piano player was pretty good too.
Gurney’s had its share of positive moments. First and foremost, we had beautiful, sunny weather three out of four days. Second, there were some Gurney’s employees who were truly caring and professional. In addition to our handsome, charming young waiter (a twin), who reminded me a little of Max, there was Nancy at check-in. Nancy was so horrified by our plumbing problems that she insisted on buying us lunch the next day. Similarly, the spa agreed to give us our couple’s massage on the house to atone for losing our Saturday reservations.
The spa services turned out to be wonderful. My facial included a neck, hand and foot massage which left my skin soft and glowing, and the rest of me truly relaxed. Our couple’s massage—a first for Henry and me—was also soothing to body and spirit. Both masseuses knew how to give a good Swedish massage, kneading out the knotted muscles deeply enough to provide relief, but gently enough to avoid pain.
I’m also happy to report that the traffic coming home on Monday was not nearly as terrible as I’d feared. Following Henry’s strategy, we checked out early and managed to get home in 3 hours and 15 minutes—nowhere near the 5 ½ hour nightmare we’d suffered one Labor Day 25 years ago.
As for other good news, Max arrived back in New York safely and went straight to his girlfriend’s house for the weekend, leaving our nest in pristine condition for our arrival home Monday afternoon. Happily, Sarah also spent half the weekend with her boyfriend and the other half with friends, texting us each day in minute detail. Our daughter on the autistic spectrum had survived 5 whole days—Thursday to Monday—without her parents! Hooray for both kids allowing us to leave the nest without any crisis that could have forced us to abort our getaway. Maybe if we continue to let go of our twins, they’ll each find different ways to grow up.
What did matter—and always will—is that Sarah was up on that college stage because she has the courage and commitment to reach for goals that so many believed were beyond her grasp. I’m proud to say that Sarah has already followed the advice given to the incoming freshman by the president of Pace University: Keep reaching for the stars and you’ll find yourself on top of the mountain.