My home away from home?

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I’ve spent the last few days on the road, and that has brought for me a renewed appreciation for those inns of the weary traveler. Of course, I mean the hotels and motels who strive to provide a world wanderer with a night’s rest.

In my years of partaking of the institution, I think I’ve seen every kind there is…from the perfect setting for a perfect night’s rest all the way down to one step up from a card-board box on the sidewalk. The first motel I remember being in was in a small town in the midwest, named cleverly with words beginning with the first three letters of the alphabet..abc. My mother contended that it really should have been called the Already Been Chewed motel (abc), instead. To add insult to injury, after a night in which we battled spiders living in the shower, rain leaking in through the windows and a smell in the carpet that we not only could not identify, but didn’t really want to, we drove past the other motel in the small town which had definitely not already been chewed!

My most memorable motel might have been one I stayed at with my aunt and grandmother. My grandmother had volunteered to get the motel for the night, but she kept teasing us that it was going to be a “flop-house.” My aunt and I agreed that she had succeeded, since the toilet was in a closet, the air conditioning was loud but not cold and my aunt and I spent the night in a bed that we had shoved against the door, because we discovered to our dismay that more than one door apparently opened with the same key.

There have been some lovely rooms rented by us over the years, but it seems like we are always in the room next to the barking dog, the late-night partiers or the enthusiastic newly-weds, if you follow my meaning. One night was spent in a room directly over the hotel’s conference room, where a wedding reception was in full swing, complete with a very good and very loud mariachi band.

If it isn’t noise, it is sometimes the hints that not everyone in the establishment is after the same thing you are…a good night’s sleep. I was in a hotel room once where the door at the bottom was so bent in that I could see the light of the street lamp outside and I was fairly certain that with very little effort, I could have made a drug purchase. Then, there was the night I spent in a motel that was little more than a line-up of cells along a sidewalk and where a very friendly gentleman passed along the line, knocking on every door, inviting us to his party. He got enough takers so that the party spilled into the parking lot and eventually, some police were invited to wrap up the festivities.

Then, there are the things inside the motel room. You know there is a problem when you don’t want to walk on the carpet with your bare feet, or where you only want to step into the shower after you have thoroughly sprayed it with disinfectant. To say nothing of the thrill of checking the mattress for those charming little livestock that sometimes move in and knowing that you missed something if you wake up the following morning with unexplained bites all over you!

Smells are a particular problem for me. If I smell strong cleaners, it makes my eyes water, but neither do I want to smell some of things those cleaners are eliminating…if they can. I stayed one night in a motel room so filled with cleaning odors that I couldn’t take it…so I opened windows and doors and aired it out. That was when I could smell the odor the cleaning odors had been masking, and in the end, I decided I preferred having my eyes water from cleaner as opposed to wondering exactly what had died in the corner by the bed!

I have always been a big fan of the reality show “Haunted Hotels,” mostly because I had never encountered anything remotely suspicious. But my most recent trip seems to have brought out the worst in the spirit world. In our first hotel, there was a reading lamp in one corner that kept blinking on and off; it was particularly bad when anyone tried to sit down in the chair in the corner to read. The rest of the lights worked fine, just that one would flicker and go on and off. Finally, we unplugged it because it kind of unnerved us and as soon as we did, the lamp over the bed began the flickering and blinking. It might have been faulty wiring, but it seemed rather intentional.

While I’ve never awakened to a spectral being trying to pull off my covers or floating over my head, I did wake up in the dead (pardon the expression) of the night to a small green light, which seemed to float back and forth over the bed. I would make a fine ghost-hunter because my reaction was to cover my head with the blankets and try to go back to sleep! That was enough spooky stuff for my whole lifetime.

As I said at the beginning of this rant, I have stayed in many fine, clean, quiet, un-haunted hotels in my life, but of course, the ones that have stuck in my memory have been the odd ones. May you find that all of your accommodations are truly, your home away from home.

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