Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to feel 19 again, in a bad way

When I was a teenager, after I got my license, I went on a lot of road trips.  My poor parents never knew exactly where I was.  I drove to California, I drove up the east coast of Canada to Novia Scotia, I drove all around.  Sometimes I slept in rest stops in my car, a giant Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera that let me stretch out quite comfortably in the back seat with my big comforter over my head so people couldn't see I was a girl alone.  Other times, if I was feeling particularly flush (or had a new credit card), I'd spring for a hotel.  It was never nice hotels, though.  Not like the kind I stay in now for work, with stocked mini-bars, name-brand toiletries, and Sleep Number beds.  Nope, I stayed in the beat down cheapest places in towns you've never heard of like Groom, Texas.

(Speaking of which, I will always have a bone to pick with Groom, Texas.  Picture this: you're driving along the freeway at night, half asleep because you got in the car somewhere around Kingman, Arizona, and you get to Groom, Texas, which is famous - if you can call it that - for having a 19-story cross.  It's Texas, so it's flat, right?  And at night they light this thing up so the astronauts can see it.  But think about the shape of a cross, especially a white one, lit up, at night.  As you're driving along, bleary-eyed, listening to too much Lyle Lovett, sipping your coffee, suddenly you perk right up, because, holy f*ck, that's a tornado up there!  ShitCrap what are you supposed to do?  It's getting bigger!  It's getting closer!  Are you supposed to get out of the car?  What if you get out and the car lands on you?  It's coming right towards you!  Holy shit.  Who can you call quick to tell you what you're supposed to do with a giant tornado - sheesh, it must be 19 stories!- coming your way in Texas?  There's a ditch by the side of the freeway, are you supposed to go in there?  It keeps coming closer!  Should you stop?  

But, hang on, it looks like...what the hell? that a giant...seriously?...somebody built a giant cross that looks like a tornado and lit the thing up in the middle of Nowhere, Texas?

I have no idea how many people have thought that the cross in Groom, Texas was a tornado, but it scared the shit out of me, and for that I refuse to ever stop there...I stop in Amarillo.)

Anyway, where was I?

Cheap hotels.

It's been a while. 

Monday night I stayed in the worst one ever (I was paying - it wasn't for work - so I thought I'd be cheap).  I had no idea that Pasadena could do "creepy" so well.  The Swiss Lodge in Pasadena is hands down, the most godawful place I have ever been in my entire life. And that's saying a lot, because the Super 8 in Kingman is pretty bad, too.  

Here's how to tell if your hotel is super-ghetto:

-  They don't keep the tv remote control in the room, but instead give it to people when they check in.  What could be the reason?  If they're afraid of people ripping them off, surely they still can?  I don't get it.  Either way, it's weird.  Even once you get into the room, the channels don't work right.  It's an old tv with the DirecTV box sitting on top, and you have to set the tv to be on channel 13 or something before the DirecTV channels kick in - it's like in the old days with a VCR box when you needed to have it on channel 3.  This would be ok, except nobody tells you that.  So you have to figure it out on your own.  

- There are spiders in the toilet.  This is just gross.

- There are no deadbolts or chains on the doors.  I solved this by jamming a chair under the doorknob - just like I did when I was 19! - but it didn't inspire a lot of confidence.

- When you check in, the guy at the front desk keeps asking you whether you're there alone.  You finally make something up about your husband maybe joining you, just because he's creeping you out so much.

- In the middle of the night, people are screaming in the parking lot.

- The ringer?  There are leftovers in the refrigerator.  Maybe it's the maid's lunch?  I don't know.  

The moral of the story is:

- read the reviews of a hotel before you book it.  If there are a ton of bad ones, and only a few good ones to try to skew the average, assume that those are employees.


- When you're 36, things that were ok when you were 19, ain't ok any more.

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