I tagged along with The Baron on a business trip to New York. The plan was for me to stay in the hotel room and work on my second novel while he attended a series of meetings at a bank conference. But as usual, not much goes as planned.

My work area was just about set-up when my cell pinged. The text message read:  Colin Powell is speaking at lunch. Do you want to come? (I assumed his question was rhetorical)

Are you kidding? I typed:  Of course I want to attend.

He texted back:  Business Attire.

I rushed to the luggage rack, kneeled on the floor and frantically dug through my carry-on. Since I planned to stay held up in the hotel and order room service, I only packed microfiber and running shoes. (As far as I know Nike doesn’t make anything in Coolmax that’s suitable for business)

Damn. I tilted back on my heels and squatted in a sumo stance, my thinking position. After rocking back and forth for a few minutes, I had a possible solution.

I belly flopped on the bed, grabbed the phone and dialed the operator. “Lost and found please.”

When I explained my dilemma, the woman in guest services wasted no time searching the hotel’s inventory. When she returned to the line, she’d solved half my problem–a tailored sheath, fairly close to my size. She promised to rush the dress up to my room.

My eyes drifted to my sneakers. Even though many people roamed the city streets with their gym shoes paired with a suit, I knew there was no way I was getting past security in my neon green clodhoppers.

I dialed the concierge. “Any chance there is a shoe repair within walking distance?”

And as luck would have it, a cobbler rented space less than a block away.

When the dress finally arrived, I changed, put on my socks and sneakers and trekked to the shoe man. (No, not Otto unfortunately)

Now, I’m not really sure if it was my pathetic pleading or my ridiculous ensemble, but whatever the case may be, the compassionate man lent me a pair of pumps someone had left in his shop for over a month.

Needless to say, I passed dress code and enjoyed the delightful opportunity to see Mr. Powell speak.

*note to self: From now on, regardless of the agenda, never get caught without a dress and a pair of flats.

*packing tip: Wolford makes dresses that roll up small enough to fit in your purse. (I buy them on sale at the end of the season) And Cityslips ballet flats come with a tiny carrying bag that easily hangs around your wrist. Don’t leave home without them.

*antic for a balanced universe:  If you have to borrow something that isn’t yours, make sure you return it in it’s original or better condition. (dry clean the dress and have the shoes shinned)

E.L. Chappel author of Risk

Borrower of things you leave behind

aka The Glamorous Wife

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