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Dateline: Miami, May 22 — A Day Off, but a Day of Cliffhangers

05/23/2006

Determined not to miss the season finale of “24,” I apologized to my dinner host, left the table, and grabbed a cab back to my hotel. The ride took way longer than I expected.

8:00 — we’re still miles away. Miami is big, huh? Then the cab driver tells me he has no idea where my hotel was, so I have to help him find it.

8:15 — arrive at the hotel. Cab driver can’t figure out how to navigate the one-way streets around the hotel, so I give him too much money, jump out into traffic and weave my way through cars to the hotel entrance.

Just like Jack Bauer would do.

8:17 — The room card-key doesn’t work in the elevator. The flickering red light comes on. Elevator doesn’t move.

8:19 — Another hotel guest enters the elevator and puts in her card. I get to my floor.

8:20 — Run through the maze of hallway to my room, dodging room-service carts and maids’ service trolleys. Get to the door of my room.

8:21 — My room key doesn’t work. I try it for the next two minutes, but keep getting the flickering red light.

8:23 — Race back to the bank of elevators, where I find a house phone. Call the front desk. The clerk tells me that that the hotel thought I had checked out(!), so de-activated my card. They promise to send someone right up with a new key.

8:28 — Return to my door to wait.

8:33 — Still waiting.

8:35 — Pulse is racing. Blood pressure is high.

8:36 — I can wait no longer. Race back down the hall and see a door marked “stairway.” Figure the stairs to the lobby will be much faster than the elevator. A sign on the stairs says “no exit to hotel.” What can this mean? It’s a dark, concrete back staircase, obviously not supposed to be used by hotel guests.

8:42 — I reach an unmarked door. It opens not onto the lobby or a hotel floor, but into some concrete underground garage. I run through the garage, but can’t find an exit to the hotel. They’ve probably already arrested the President on “24,” and I’m stuck in a parking garage.

8:45 — I run up a ramp that leads to the street, around to the hotel entrance, up the escalator to the front desk – and hit a long line of people waiting to check in. No. This can’t be.

8:46 — I go right up to the desk, angering all those people in line, and demand that they replace my card. They do.

8:50 — I get to my room, find the channel for Fox, and put on the TV just as the segment is ending.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are playing the Yankees. I can’t do both, so I put on my laptop and watch the action there. We’re ahead 9 to 1 at the top of the 9th.

Then Alex Rodriguez hits a 2-run homer. Then Posada homers. Our lead seems to be crumbling.

But back to “24.” A brilliant little twist involving Jack Bauer, the President, and a listening device – got me, and I’m the plotmeister.

And the Sox won after all, 9-5.