Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dear Econolodge

I don't consider myself naive, but I suppose the naive would not have the capability to make that determination.   In my decade in the hotel industry, I've seen some proverbial "things" and many of them cannot be unseen.  However, I like to think in the happy little hamlet I live in, there's a certain limit to the ills that can occur, so long as someone stays away from the "wrong" part of town.  In my town's case, that is a one block radius surrounding a bar and liquor store that act as an outlet for most of the hedonism in the area.  I recently learned how little I actually knew. 

The Econolodge in town has been there for quite some time.  Sure, it isn't fancy.  Nestled between the urgent care clinic and the Popeye's chicken, it's not exactly in prime real estate.  Anything bathed in an overwhelming mist of chicken grease and antiseptic can't be  THAT luxurious.  My friend T, who I have mentioned before, called me, telling me that he was in town with his job as the world's tiniest archeologist, and that he'd been put up by his company in this hotel. We made plans to meet up after his shift ended on his second day in town.

When he go to my house, he was slightly rattled.  When he told me what he had to endure, it sounded fantastical, but I knew he wouldn't lie.  I told him we'd go together to get his things, and that he could stay with me for the next couple of nights until he had to leave town.  We got into his tiny-mobile and took off.

Pulling up, it struck me that while somewhat outdated, the motel didn't look all that bad on the outside.  It was a little worn, and a little faded, but I'd seen much worse.  He pointed to a door on the ground floor, and noted he had seen three different men come and go from that room within an hour the night before.  There were no signs of life at this time, so we went upstairs and entered his room.

The first thing I could tell when entering the room was that they had used a freshener to eliminate smoke.  All hotels use pretty much the same thing, as it is the most effective, but if you know the smell of that chemical, it's just about the same as smelling the smoke.  This mocked the frail "No Smoking" sign above his small television.  Being trained to inspect rooms for housekeeping, I decided to see how the room stacked up to the threshold of cleanliness my hotel deemed acceptable.  Surprisingly, I found little evidence of dust on picture frames or the head board.  The bathroom, while small, and dimly lit, was fairly clean in comparison to a truck stop men's room, but not quite acceptable for a paying hotel guest.  Lifting the sheets, I didn't find any evidence of the dreaded bedbug, which relieved T., but this was where the good news ended. 

As I checked the walls and ceiling, I couldn't help but notice the small dime to quarter sized patch holes all around the room at odd intervals.  Likewise, it was clear at some point someone had pulled both the towel rack and shower curtain rod out of their mounts on the wall.  The front door showed signs of having been kicked in at least once, if not daily, and the security chain was nore of a decoration at this point that anything functionally useful.  In the words of Willem Dafoe, there was a firefight. Snitches had most definitely gotten stitches in this room.  T. opened the fridge to see that the bottom has entirely rusted out, and the not-so-subtle stench of despair and rot crept from it's eggshell painted bowels into the room.

Finally, T noticed that the front of the nightstands had cardboard taped to the bottom to make sure nothing rolled under them.  Lifting the one, we found bottle caps and garbage, but the true gold was underneath the second.  Countless cigarette butts confirmed my previous guess, but the real winner was the slightly used crack pipe that lay amid them all.  We took this as a cue that our time was done, and hurried to the car.  As we drove away, we noticed that a man had taken a seat outside of the room below T's.  He sat smoking a cigarette, not looking at us, but also, not-NOT looking at us.  It being four in the afternoon, I couldn't think of much reason the man would have to be sitting in a chair outside of the door of a cheap hotel, but then something hit me.  The chair he was sitting in looked nothing like the chairs that were in T's room.  Yes, it was a wooden chair, but nothing about it was the same as the sitting chair I had seen.  The man had brought this chair from home. 

Yes, this pimp had found the chairs at the Econolodge not to his liking, so he brought a chair from home.  Pimpin' ain't easy, especially if your ass isn't comfortable. 

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