Hearing the oh-so-creepy testimony coming out of Fox Sports' Erin Andrews trial, and the final verdict ($55 million awarded to Andrews), I can't help but think about my own experiences, traveling to different cities to cover sports events and even to do my job.
I was without a car from 2008-2012, and at the time, was coordinating weekends at WKRS-AM 1220 in Waukegan.
When I say 'coordinating weekends,' I mean that I was on-air during the hours I needed to be on air, producing and sidekicking shows that ranged from sports to landscaping to interior design, overseeing satellite shows, engineering evening high school basketball and football games, board-oping for religious programs and voicing news reports. I relied on the Union Pacific North and West railroad lines to get me to and from the station, and the Pace Bus or cabs to get me from the station to my home in Chicago. They also needed someone who would be available if things went wrong.
At the time, I couldn't afford to buy a new car. Mine was the only salary coming in at home.
But as my weekends increased in hours, it became more and more obvious I couldn't make it back home, since I often left the station at 9 or 10 pm on a Saturday night, and was scheduled to begin again at 6:15 Sunday morning. No trains left Waukegan after 10 pm on Saturday nights, nor would they be available again until after 8 am on Sunday.
I figured a cheaper local hotel, close to the station, would be my best option. The 'no-tell motels' were out. But I figured a chain hotel would likely provide the security I needed, as well as a pillow, breakfast, and a fitness center. I chose the Quality Inn on Belvidere Road, which was to become my weekend address for the better part of three years.
It turned out I was very, very lucky. The weekend staff pretty much adopted me as their own. No one came to my hotel room without my permission. No one called my room without my knowing who it was. No one, to my knowledge, asked to be placed next to me. My fans, apparently, weren't the creepezoid type.I had my share of inquiries, but they didn't know I was at a hotel on weekends.
I trusted the staff to protect me. Whenever there was a problem, the weekend staff took care of me. My biggest worry was walking the half-mile from the hotel to the station at 6 am. Toward the end of my time there, the overnight manager was kind enough to volunteer to drive me to the station, since it was on his way home. That way, I didn't have to walk the half-mile from the hotel to the station.
I wish Erin Andrews could have had the kind of protection I had assumed was available for all women traveling alone. May the $55 million, whether she get it in full, or settles for part of it, be a lesson to theNashville Marriott, and to the hotel industry, that the first priority of any hotel is to ensure the safety of their guests.