I’m sitting in an Embassy Suites hotel bar in Lincoln, Nebraska as I write this. Come and be here with me. For those who have never been in an Embassy Suites, their point of differentiation is all about bringing the “outside” in. Instead of just a hotel lobby and elevators — there’s an atrium that not only has a huge waterfall with (what looks like) fake rocks, but a kind of stream that flows through the entire hotel complete with big goldfish (probably more exotic than that — but that’s what they look like to me).
I was checking out the fitness center, conference room (that I’ll be speaking in) gift shop, etc when out of the corner of my eye I spied a duck. He was on the edge of the stream and had his little beak tucked in his feathers like he was some kind of contortionist or something. Kind of freaked me out. I thought, oh, that’s a nice, weird touch. But then the little guy blinked. Swear to god. It is a real duck. In a hotel lobby, next to a man-made stream filled with goldfish. In Lincoln, Nebraska.
Eric, Jeff and Chip are the ducks names (I just found out from the bartender). Seems the Assistant General Manager had “too many ducks” at home and brought the boys here. The real challenge (according to Aaron Shmitz) is keeping the ducks away from the fish. And keeping kids from the ducks. They clip their wings so they can’t escape easily. The ducks, not the kids. Makes sense. Apparently the fish die pretty quickly so they have people come in and replenish (like those companies that water the plants in huge companies or landscapers that rip out wilted flowers and replace with fresh) regularly.
Okay…I admit it. I love animals. I’m the kind of person that would ram my car into a tree rather than hit a squirrel. There, I said it. I feel bad for these fish that are giving their short lives for ambience at a large hotel chain. For the ducks who endure spastic toddlers and elevator noise (ding) and Husker fans on game day. But I do love the attention they’ve given their brand. I’m so conflicted. I’m in a state of Nebraska.

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