I’m staying in Indianapolis for a conference and I’m wondering why they held meeting this at a hotel so close to the airport. Nobody is actually flying in to attend it and according to my calculations a window-rattling flight takes off approximately every seven minutes. I have enough trouble sleeping away from home. I should have suspected something was up, when I saw the compact disc player next to the bed with a special CD that played relaxing sounds. There were also sleep tips printed on the CD jacket and it came with a little pouch containing ear plugs and an eyeshade. It seems like our rooms always have something wrong with them, like noisy air conditioners or toilets that overflow.
Once coming back from picking our youngest son up at college, we stopped at one of the low cost national chain motels. The AC was so loud, I had to ask for another room. I always feel embarrassed and am not very assertive in such situations, but the noise was unbearable. We moved to a new room down the hall, that was quieter, but a few minutes after we hauled in our suitcases, I noticed something usual high on the wall. After studying it a while we determined it was a live bat, so I had to tramp back down to the front desk to beg for yet another room.
When I first came to southern Indiana several years ago, I stayed in a motel for a couple of weeks, while we tried to sell our house in Florida. We were economizing, so the accommodations were far from luxurious. I remember that for entertainment there was cable television and domestic disputes in the parking lot. The cabled tended to fade in and out, but the fighting was pretty much nonstop. When the cable would go on the fritz I could play “Name that Stain” as the carpet was a veritable Rorschach of undeterminable splotches. I was afraid to walk around the place barefoot, so I always put my shoes back on whenever I got out of the shower. I laughably had what was called a “no smoking room” and occasionally I would walk out to the nearby highway for a breath of fresh air. Once I found a cigarette butt actually tucked into the sheet. I believe the “no smoking” referred to fact that the room was not actually on fire when I moved in. I also had to change rooms after the large bathroom mirror fell off the wall scattering minute glass particles all over the room. Dodging the shards, I felt like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, trying to maneuver so I could get to the phone to report the disaster. Scott, the unfortunate teenager the office sent over to clean up the broken glass, said that a new mirror usually cost $55. Evidently they replaced quite of few of them in this establishment. I was impressed as Scott seemed very experienced handling hazardous materials. The night manager, a tough and dangerous looking girl of about 19, skeptically accepted my story that the mirror just fell off the wall, and moved me to another room without a hassle. Scott said they were probably just happy that I didn’t have my next-of-kin suing the place for negligent decapitation.
According to Scott, who was a fount of information regarding vandalism, a new front window ran $330. He said a trucker, a few doors down from me, had recently broken one by flinging a hammer at his partner, an ingrate who had the audacity to duck. Afterwards the trucker staggered over to the office and slapped down four one hundred-dollar bills, like he had been through this drill before and it was an everyday room service charge. I was happy to switch rooms. In my old room everytime some motel guest would dial an 800 phone number my phone would ring. I got calls all night long since most of the motel clientele was unable to grasp the “dial 9 first for an outside line” concept.
In my new room the phone was completely inoperative, which was fine with me. I was also glad to get away from my neighbor. He was a man about thirty years old, with a week’s growth of beard, and dark sunglasses, who would squat barefoot in front of his door smoking cigarettes for hours at a time. I didn’t mind the smoking, but all that squatting and those bare feet started to creep me out. I quickly learned it is best not to look inside other people’s motel rooms as you pass by. My neighbor’s room, for example, resembled the high cluttered van of a serial killer on the lamb. After I was there a week or so I decided that it was too risky to use the motel laundry room. First I had to walk by “squatty” on the way over there, and on one visit I was accosted by a guy trying to sell some kind of super duper cleaning fluid for $40 a bottle. Before I could stop him, he sprayed the fluid on one of my tennis shoes. Unfortunately it worked so well, that my shoes no longer matched. I wasn’t about to pay forty bucks to clean the other shoe, so I had to walk around for weeks with one gleaming white shoe and one yellowish grimy one. The funny thing was that my room wasn’t all that cheap. We ended up renting a pretty nice duplex apartment for much less money. There must be something I was missing. Perhaps they replaced the stale cinnamon pinwheel breakfast with Eggs Benedict and didn’t tell me, or maybe that was a piece of chocolate on my pillow, not a blood stain.