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1999.11.07 Why I Hate Hotels

posted Mar 26, 2010, 6:19 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Mar 26, 2010, 6:21 AM ]

Some people never have the urge to run away. They're always happy to be right where they are, never thinking things are better somewhere else, never wondering if the view is nicer over the next hill.

I hate those people.

Though I'm something of a homebody myself at times, at other times I just pack up and go. Pick a direction and see how far a tank of gas will take me. Not far, given what I drive, but far enough. Anything out of local calling range is usually sufficient to get some peace and quiet. Usually.

Sometimes, I don't even get out of the county before things start going wrong. The other day I went out to the car, opened the door, started to climb in, and heard "Meow." I looked down and my brother's cat, Buddy, was curled up on the driver's side. I tossed him out and went on my way, vowing not to leave the windows down that night.

The next morning, I went out to the car. "Meow." Hmm. Windows were closed. I noted that one of my speakers was no longer in its usual hole in the back deck. The hole provided access from the trunk. The trunk is rusted out in a couple of places big enough for a cat to enter. I carefully replaced the speaker and went on my way.

The next morning, I went out to the car. "Meow." The speaker was hanging by the wires. I secured the speaker with a wire tie and went on my way.

The next morning, I glanced in the back window to see that the speaker was still firmly in place. Good. I glanced at the speaker on the other side. It was hanging by the one wire still attached. I checked the interior, but could not find the cat. I beat on the hood and trunk to flush him out, then left for work. I was running late.


I pulled over and searched the car again. No sign of the cat. I started down the road again.


Not even slowing down, I tried to look in the back floorboard. While my eyes were off the road, I heard a thump under one of the wheels. I stopped the car and checked 50 feet of road without finding anything I could have run over. I spent the rest of the day wondering if I'd just killed my brother's cat. But when I returned that evening, he ran out to meet me as usual. "You've been bugging me so much I'm starting to hear things."

I was planning to run away that weekend, so I decided to take precautions. Using some extra wire, I tied the speakers to the cardboard which makes up my back deck. I also tied down a little electric heater I bought, so as to keep the rear window defrosted. I used some scrap cardboard and half a roll of duct-type tape to close up the holes in the trunk. "Ha!" I said to Buddy, who was warming himself by the electric heater. "You'll have to find some other way to bug me now!"

I arrived in a small town in a neighboring state at about sundown. I pulled into a motel I had stayed at in the past. The rates were decent, the rooms didn't stink much, and the roaches generally stayed out of the beds. That, in spite of the various problems I'd had there, kept me coming back. They knew me.

"Can I help you?" the desk clerk asked in his usual less-than-helpful tone. He sneered at my choice of luggage: a silver and blue backpack that had seen better days. Just to irritate him, I tossed it onto the counter between us.

"Yes, I'd like a room for the night, one person, non-smoking." If you really want to bug them, ask if they have hourly rates. If they say yes, though, stay somewhere else.

"What name might the reservation be under?" The sneer was getting more pronounced.

"It might be under Smith," I said, deadpan. "However, since I didn't make one, it probably isn't under anything at all."

The clerk then proceeded to give me a 10 minute lecture on how one should always reserve a room, as you never know when the International Association of Rabbit Wholesalers will be having a convention in town. I had to let him run down before he could confirm that there was NOT a convention in town that particular weekend and he had plenty of rooms.

"What credit card will you be using to pay?" he asked.

"The green one with pictures of dead presidents on it," I answered, counting out twenties.

"Sir, if you do not give us a credit card, some of our services will not be available to you, and you will be asked to pay in advance."

I dug in my pockets for correct change. "And what, pray tell, does it look like I'm doing now?"

I took my room key and reached for my backpack, but then decided to vent some steam. "Every time I come here, it's the same thing. Somebody gripes that I don't have a reservation, even though it's a Friday night and your parking lot is half empty. Somebody gripes that I won't pay with a credit card. Last time I was here, somebody cleaned up the bathroom while I was gone and broke the zipper off my little toiletries bag. The time before that, somebody straightened up the chest of drawers while I was gone and re-packed my dirty underwear with my clean underwear. Every time I come here, you people find a new way to annoy me."

The desk clerk looked smug. "I'm afraid I'll have to annoy you again, sir."

"And how are you going to do that?"

"I'm going to have to charge you an extra $10 for your pet."

"Pet?" I sputtered. "I don't have a pet!"

Just then, my backpack said "Meow."