Help! I'm lost in the bathroom

May 8, 2012 • Posted in blindness, Seeing Eye dogs, travel, Uncategorized, Whitney by

There’s Whit ensconced before the gigantic rain rorest shower inside the gigantic bathroom inside my gigantic suite.

There are few things I enjoy more than staying at a fancy hotel  — especially when someone else is paying for it. My bed gets made every morning,, clean towels magically appear in the bathroom, and when I walk through the lobby everyone from the doorman to the people behind the front desk ask if they can help me. Some even call me by my name, a la “Ms. Finke? May I help you to the elevator?” Those of you old enough to appreciate James Thurber will understand why I refer to my hotel stays as Walter Mitty experiences.

My friend Dean Fischer is one of the founders of West Monroe Partners here in Chicago, and when he asked me to give the opening keynote for the firm’s 10th anniversary celebration, I told him I’d be honored. The celebration was at a new hotel less than one mile away from our Chicago condo, but I went ahead and asked for a hotel room anyway. And you know what? West Monroe Partners came through. Big time. And when I say big, I mean big — they arranged for me to have a luxury suite!

The people at the front desk must have been alerted I was coming  —  they had keycards waiting for me with one corner clipped off  —  that way I knew which end to put in the key slot to get into my suite. Dean’s wife (and my high school pal) Jenny Fischer came along as the doorman led us down the hallway to my suite, and the two of us burst out laughing when we got inside. The bathroom was bigger than our bedroom at home! Well, at least one of the bathrooms was. The suite had two.

I usually take Whitney’s harness off her when we get into a hotel room, to you know, give her a break. Hotel rooms are predictable, and I can manage them on my own. Not this hotel room, though. Whitney’s harness stayed on. I never did figure out how to get from my king-sized bed to the door to the hotel’s hallway — I had to pick up Whitney’s harness and give her the “outside” command any time I wanted to leave the room!

But back to my tour of the suite: the doorman  —  his name was Charlie — showed me where the mini-bar was, described the rain forest shower and explained how an infinity tub worked. He told me what button to press on the phone to call the front desk in an emergency. You know, like if I got lost in the suite.

My keynote was at 9 a.m. on the very first day of the conference, but I stayed the entire weekend. Not only because I had such a groovy hotel room, but also because it was such a joy to be around these smart, curious, and extremely young people from West Monroe Partners. The business and technology consulting firm has over 300 employees across North America, and one-third of them are younger than 29. No surprise, then, that Brill Street Named West Monroe Partners one of the 50 most Generation Y friendly companies in the Chicagoland area this year.

Not all of the young people I talked to over the weekend had studied business in college One was a German major, another studied English literature. All of them had spunk, though, and many told me how much they were learning on the job. They weren’t afraid of taking on new responsibilities at work, and boy, did they like to have fun. Example: on Friday night they all went to Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago, where the Canadian employees teamed up against the U.S. employees for a rousing game of hockey. Whitney and I sat that one out. We stayed in the hotel. Oh, and did I tell you we had a luxury suite?

“We’re all pretty Type A,” one of the employees admitted the morning after the hockey game. “And we’re pretty assertive, too.” He was right, I suppose, but there’s a difference between assertive and aggressive. A big difference. These assertive young folks were not shy. They seemed perfectly comfortable approaching me, asking me questions, telling stories, and best of all, sharing laughs.

It was a weekend of first for me, including this one: it was the first time I knew my way around outside the hotel better than inside my room  —  we were right in our neighborhood, I knew the streets, and Whitney and I enjoyed a few nice, long walks together. It was my first time in an infinity tub, too. Whitney was tempted to join me, but I wouldn’t let her. I was afraid she might drown.

S. Bradley Gillaugh On May 8, 2012 at 10:22 am

Since you were so shy about telling us which wonderful hotel it was, I’m guessing the J..W.Marriott.

bethfinke On May 8, 2012 at 10:32 am

Oh, you smarty-pants, Brad.
Someone told you, didn’t they?
You are correct, sir: J. W. Marriott, on 151 W. Adams. The staff was fantastic, all except one: one time when Whitney and I came back from a walk and we enterred the hotel, a dorman said “This is the J. W. Marriott — are you sure you’re in the right place?”

Sheila Kelly Welch On May 8, 2012 at 11:01 am

What fun!

When someone says, “Are you sure you’re in the right place?” Whitney could be trained to bark four times, as in “YES, but are you?”

Kim On May 8, 2012 at 11:09 am

Whitney looks like a Chihuahua, lying in the ginormous bathroom.

bethfinke On May 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm

It was Land of the Giants for sure!

Barbara Timberlake On May 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I am grinning from ear to ear vicariously sharing the joy of your weekend.

Jeff Flodin On May 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

What a blast, Beth! I love hotels and I love your blogs about hotels – from the old classics like the Pfister to the new and ultra stylish. And congratulations on being selected for the honor of keynoting. Oh, no, another bad verb? Keynoting? That’s as bad as journaling, i. e., the act of writing in a journal. Anyway, what a great experience to have a hotel suite you needed to explore with Whitney in harness. Randy and I are envious. Congratulations on reaching the heights of the hotel suites.

pattibrehler On May 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm

How fun! What a nice treat. Thanks for sharing.

Audrey Mitchell On May 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

You really get around…even a few blocks from home is an adventure. Sounds like a great place. Glad you had fun.

Annelore Chapin On May 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Only you, Beth!
but while I am sitting on the toilet lid with my laptop in my lap in a tiny almost antique hotel in a plush area of Buenos Aires you had rainforest showers….. Here I am simply happy that our shower has lots of pressure and plenty of hot water. But we’re on our way back to Chicago and a giant jaccuzi! And spring.
Thanks for sharing the fun and inspiring happy thoughts.

marilee amodt On May 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I think you have made the “big time”!!! What fun. I should have applied for the assistant position on this one!

bethfinke On May 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Yes, you should have. But remember, I ould have kept an assistant very, very busy –“Marilee, is this the bathroom sink, or the mini-bar sink? Oh, wait, it’s the sink to the second bathroom. No, there are *two* sinks in the first bathroom? Where am i?!” The good part? You would have plenty of places to hide from me –the suite even had a dressing room!

italianhandful On May 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Beth you are over the top, I was with you every step of the way, great writing.Thanks, Adagio

bethfinke On May 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Aw, shucks, thanks, Adagio. That is a high compliment, coming from a wonderful writer like you!

bethfinke On May 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Thanks, too, to all the rest of you who have been leaving comments with good wishes or congrats on my BIG time weekend – ironic that Annelore was writing from her bathroom, eh? And I think Whitney would tell her fellow Seeing Eye dog Randy that he has nothing to be jealous about – she usually spends hotel time relaxing, but she had a lot of work to do to guide me around this one! She *did* seem to enjoy the familiar walks outside, though…

Carl On May 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

But you never said a word about your keynote speech. How did it go?

Judy Spock On May 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Hi Beth, I think Dean Fischer is the son of my dear friend Anne Poindexter Fischer who went to Antioch College with me years ago. Her son Dean was married to a Jenny, and Anne had a daughter Jenny of her own. Also another son and daughter. They grew up in Elmhurst…I’d be pleased if you’d send them my love and best wishes…thanks! Judy Spock

bethfinke On May 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I just got off the phone with Jenny Fischer, I couldn’t wait to tell her this news. YES, Dean is Anne’s son, and I am also friends with Anne’s daughters, we all went to school in Elmhurst together and have stayed in touch all this time. I am very, very close to Dean’s wife and sister-in-law, can’t wait to be with you in class Thursday and hear more about your life with Anne. She was a wonderful woman and is dearly missed by her family. They will be so glad to know I’ve met you, another link to the mother they loved so much.
(For outside readers, Judy Spock is part of the “LPV” group, an organization of senior citizens who live in Lincoln Park, a neighborhood in Chicago – I teach a memoir writing class for Lincoln Park Village, and Judy is in that writing class. Cliché, but here goes: SMALL WORLD.)

Cheryl On May 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Next “Sisters Weekend” in the J.W. Marriot bathroom. Move in a round table and box of wine and we’re set for the weekend! Congratulations on your Keynote Status with the West Monroe Partners!

Bev On May 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Amen Sista!

bethfinke On May 10, 2012 at 9:10 am

Ha! Sounds absurd, but you know what? That’s a great idea! There were two sinks on opposite ends of the bathroom (not sure what each was supposed to be for, one near where you put your make-up on, the other to brush your teeth?) and the toilet was cut off from the rest by a heavy door, you know, for privacy. We could set the table up right there in the middle and fill the infinity tub with ice for our boxes of white wine. And hey, if anyone spilled…no problem!
You are brilliant, Cheryl.

Virginia On May 10, 2012 at 10:50 am


As one of the employees of West Monroe Partners, I just wanted to thank you for giving the keynote speech. Your humor, honesty, and candor was as refreshing as it was inspirational. As each of us looks to find our “purpose” either personally or professionally, you help set the bar in terms of facing adversity and challenge with humor, gumption, perseverence, and humanity. May we all find our own purposes with such grace.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Very sincerely,


bethfinke On May 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

Wow, Virginia. Thank you for sharing this comment! It serves as proof to my other blog readers: I didn’t spend the *entire* weekend in the infinity tub! Honestly, I am blushing at your very kind words. Thank you.

nancyb On May 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

So Beth, not to follow the previous gracious comment with such silliness, but you have me googling (another bad verb along with keynoting and journaling!) infinity pools. I found some pools at this link:

They have everything from tubs with cow decorations to tubs with clear sides….umm….I don’t think I want to get in that one.

bethfinke On May 11, 2012 at 9:14 am


ojdoherty On May 11, 2012 at 3:50 am

That hotel sounds amazing!

bethfinke On May 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

It was.

Greg Melroy On May 15, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hi Beth,

I’m so glad you were able to join us for our weekend of celebraiton. It was a pleasure to hear you speak and it was also nice to meet Mike and an off-duty Whitney Saturday night at dinner. I was very excited that my wife was able to meet you so she could know who the heck I was talking about when I was talking about Bet and Whitney.

I have searched for the right way to describe your speech to others, but I can’t really put my finger on it. Was it motivating or inspirational? Was it a story about not accepting failure or was it about survival through adaptation? Maybe it was just a quick lesson in how to be a nude model!

I think the answer is that it was all of those things to a lot of people and its meaning may change depending on situation or mood. Except the nude model thing…not sure that one can be taken in any other context!

Thanks again for taking the time to share your story with us. It was…a pleasure.


Greg Melroy –
West Monroe Partners

Wife – Linda. Son – Sean (the one that spells his name wrong)

bethfinke On May 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Oh, Greg, what a sweet and thoughtful comment. Trust me, the pleasure was all mine!

Jen Amodt Ulen On May 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

What a fun expereince! Sounds like you hit the speech out of the park, I am certain the infinity tub helped you find all the inspiration. I cannot wait to see the pictures of Sisters Weekend in the bathroom, it truly does seem perfect!

bethfinke On May 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm

No joke. I especially like that the toilet is separate from the “infinity room,” behind another closed door, but right there nearby. And in an emergency? Another powder room near the door out of the room. Not sure there are enough beds though, hmmm. Sleep in the tub?

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