LITTLE ROCK — Too many days in a hotel only minutes from be it ever so humble, pet peeves festered.

Liquidated with granddaughters and golf in mind, a week’s worth of vacation included only a few hours of the former and none of the latter. On Dec. 31, unwrapped gifts were still in a spare bedroom and handwritten clues to the location of special envelopes for the girls remained hidden in the house where it was 40-something degrees.

Admittedly impatient, the occupant of room 609 might have lost it if not for a consistently friendly and helpful hotel staff, a daily complimentary breakfast with an abundance of fruit, an appreciation for the job done by out-of-state workers who hit the road before dawn, and a roommate’s frequent reminder that we were among the fortunate ones.

Sitting in the lobby for almost four hours on the morning of Dec. 26, waiting on a room — king, two double beds, smoking or non, it didn’t matter — we watched the tall and skinny reservation clerk lead by example. He smiled often, gently explained the no vacancy to the many who came in from the cold, answered a phone that rang incessantly, and kept his promise to the first in line even though a man who deemed himself important leaned on the manager for special consideration.

Across the atrium, a woman patiently informed the hungry that the lunch menu was necessarily limited to a chicken club, ham and Swiss, and wings. Always upbeat, the woman, who doubled as a bartender that evening, left after midnight and was back at 9 a.m. for another all-day shift.

At one point, the lone cook was so far behind that the small staff put a hold on new tickets. Most customers understood.

A housekeeper who started at mid-morning and finished up at 11:30 p.m. graciously provided fresh towels after some small ones were used to dry off the low-slung Shih Tzu who squatted in the snow.

We were there long enough to realize that one of the four hand-crank dispensers of cereal contained granola and that a paper cup tilted just right could be filled almost to the brim and then stashed for a tasty late-morning snack. Available each evening promptly at 5:30 was spicy salsa and the hotel’s own scrumptious chips.

Despite the amenities, there was too much time in front of the TV where the irritating included:

—Poor free-throw shooting and use of the right hand for a lay-up from the left. Kentucky made 11 from the line and missed 12 in a three-point loss to Louisville. The Cardinals also clanged some down the stretch. Also late, Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin of Sylvan Hills maneuvered down the left side of the lane, but missed because the carom off the backboard was all wrong.

—Football celebrations. Is there an unwritten rule that says a player responsible for a sack must exit the area and isolate himself before making some self-glorifying gesture? I can also do without mid-air bumps between teammates or player-coach.

—The relationship between bowl results and spring practice. Mack Brown said the Alamo Bowl victory would provide momentum for Texas entering spring practice. Thirty-four other coaches will espouse the same position; the other 35 promise the loss will motivate.

—Misleading final scores, such as Cincinnati 48, Duke 34. Duke’s Josh Snead fumbled at the Cincinnati 5 with 1:20 to play and the score tied at 34. Seconds later, Cincy hit an 83-yard TD pass. Then, the Duke quarterback was hit as he threw and the ball fluttered into the arms of a linebacker, who returned it 55 yards for a TD with 14 seconds to play.

—The notion that the option will not work in the NFL. See Robert Griffin III and Dallas non-factor Demarcus Ware.


Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is