Short Stories - non fiction

The Art of Pre-Complaining

I discovered the art of pre-complaining about 10 years ago. I was staying at a hotel with some friends, and was rather concerned to learn that the people staying in the room next to us was a group of twenty-something young men. I knew that they clearly had every intention of partying, as I saw them load case after case of beer into their room. I was very concerned about this, so much so that I dwelled on it throughout our dinner out.

You see it’s not that I have anything against people having a good time, it’s just that I value my sleep, and I usually have horrible sleeps when staying at a hotel. I seem to hear every little noise. So the thought of having some avid partiers as neighbours for the night was less than appealing.

Several times throughout the course of the evening I commented on how I wanted to go and speak to the people at the front desk of the hotel to determine what their policy was on noise etc. My friends tried to talk me out of it “they haven’t actually made any noise, you can’t complain about nothing.” To which I replied “it’s just that I want to know what to do if the guys next door become a problem.” My friends thought this was ridiculous “but you really having no reason to complain.” I argued back “I know, but I MIGHT have a reason to complain.” It was then that the term “pre-complaint” was coined by my friend “so what you are saying is that you aren’t actually complaining, you are pre-complaining.” “Exactly!” I replied. We got a lot of laughs of out this new term, and talked about it throughout the dinner “yes, I am here to pre-complain about something that hasn’t happened…” we joked.

When we returned to the hotel, I made my way down to the front desk and “pre-complained”. The staff were very good about it, and told me that if the guys decided to make a lot of noise in the middle of the night, and if I complained about it, the staff would ask them to be quiet. In the event that the noise continued, the noisy neighbours would find themselves out on the street.

I was very satisfied with the information provided during the pre-complaint. That night I went to sleep knowing what to do, and knowing what to expect. The pre-complaint had the desired effect. Funny enough, we did not hear a peep out of our neighbours that night. We didn’t even hear them come home. However the notion of pre-complaining was born, and I have used it many times since then. I will write more about a variety of successful and unsuccessful pre-complaints soon.

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