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How Low We Have Gone

October 16, 2006

I feel sorry for anyone from outside the United States who happens to end up staying in a hotel anywhere near an American Interstate Highway.
For a country with so much, we do so little when it comes to what we call hotels, or motels, or Inns or Casas.
Recently, I had the foul luck to stay in one of these little dwellings, and believe it or not, I think I set an alltime low for the overnight experience.
I knew I was in trouble even before exiting the freeway. From a distance I saw the poorly constructed structure and thought, “how can anyone legally build anything THAT CLOSE to the road?” And secondly, even if you COULD build it, WHY WOULD YOU?
An enormous “Free Internet” sign hung on the front of the building. Old plumbing equipment, trash, car parts and junk lined the perimeter and “landscaping” areas.
Normally, I would have just kept going, but I was here for an assignment and I knew all the other choices were booked. I was stuck.
From the window of the first room they tried to put me in I could see the faces of the drivers as they careened past at 80 mph. I could literally see their face, what they had on the seat, etc. I felt like a voyeur, peering into each little, metal coffin as they raced past. The noise was incredible.
I called the front desk, “no way,” and off I went to another room, the “best” room there, strategically located right underneath the front desk. Half above ground, half below, this room, although an improvement, was dingy, dark, dirty, depressing and dank. Walking with my bags I passed another room occupied by a couple living in the hotel. Dogs, boxes, clothes, and the artifacts of people in permanent transition littered their room. Truckers? Carnival workers?
I rolled the dice, pulled back the sheets and hoped for the best. I would have paid $10,000 euro for a body condom. Like a soccer match, didn’t want to touch anything with my hands.
Every guest, every body entering or exiting the building walked over the top of my room, past the front desk and out the door. The noice was incredible.
Luckily, I was exhausted, donned the earplugs and managed to sleep through it.
Morning I was treated with the “Deluxe Continental Breakfast,” which forces me to ask, “what the hell is that supposed to mean?”
What is “continental” about fruit loops? toast? The world’s worst coffee?
“You want a waffle?” came at me from about four feet four. A crotchety breakfast lady was manning the waffle iron and wanted my order.
I made the poor decision of hesitating for a half-second, and that was all it took to get on her bad side. “What are you looking for? she asked.
“Aaah, I don’t know?” I said. She looked at me with total disgust. Across the room, a poor unsuspecting woman tried to close a window where diesel fumes and artic air blew into the room. Like a bullwhip, the breakfast lady smacked her down. “Don’t close that window or it will set off the fire alarm and the fire truck will come,” she snarled as she rode herd on the waffle fire. People took a wide birth and made no sudden movements.
I couldn’t eat anything. Somehow they managed to ruin basic breakfast food. Just adding to my wonderful stay.
Oh, and the kicker, $99 for this slum. I don’t know how they can get away with it, but they do.

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