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Ike hurtled past Havanna and headed into the Gulf of Mexico, where he could become a tempest in a teacup or a Category Five humdinger of a hurricane – it was anybody’s guess.

On the heels of Katrina and still leery after Gustav, we decided to play it safe and cancel an upcoming meeting in New Orleans. Why fly into an evacuation area? Better safe than sorry, we figured.

You would think the local hotel would have been just as understanding. Instead, they informed us that we would be penalized for 100% of the room rate for our cancelled meeting, or $714. Cancellation policies were clearly stated in the contract we had signed – page four, paragraph seven, subsection three. See?

Who cares about the contract? It’s a hurricane, for crying out loud. They would probably be boarded up and halfway to Houston before we got there, anyway.

We’re all business owners here, so we understand the importance – yes, the necessity – of contracts and policies and lines in the sand. But when do you cross them? Who has the authority to erase them? Do you make Ms. Jones jump through hoops and throw little tantrums (like I did, you can be sure) before you give in to common sense and common decency? What’s your attitude when everyday life interrupts your everyday policies? Are you gracious, or grumpy?

To be fair, the hotel did rescind their penalty in a terse little email reply. We were grateful. We’ll book there when we reschedule.

But never, never again.

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