Thursday, June 3, 2010

No Crime. But A Few More Scenes

The Scene of the Accident, 2010

Last week I was working on two projects, both of which involved travel and tight budgets. I drove instead of flying. I stayed in the kinds of roadside motels my clients wouldn’t usually patronize. I don’t mind doing either of these things. I just don’t always have to.

In the space of just four nights:

Upon entering the first motel room in Baltimore, I found that none of the lighting fixtures worked. All were unplugged. In the course of moving a bedside table to reach one electrical socket, I came upon half of a head of lettuce. Along with the clean ones neatly stacked in their racks, there were dirty towels still draped over the shower rod. I had to use all the bed pillows in the seat of the desk chair to boost me high enough to use the desk.

I should have known that I was entering the Twilight Zone when the next night’s motel had a police car more or less permanently stationed out front. The whole place was in the midst of renovation. It’s the kind of place I usually describe this way: “You only hear about it when hookers get murdered there.” But there were no hookers. (That was the fourth night.) I did see a drug deal go down across the parking lot. All of the doors in my building had been patched and primed. It this had been some kitschy retro motel it would have been stylish. But here it just looked undone. The wi-fi didn’t work. The air conditioner poured moisture into the room air instead of removing it. But on the plus side, the room was clean and spacious and I only needed two pillows in the desk chair.

The Door, 2010

The third night was a little better. I stayed in an old Holiday Inn where I think I was the only guest not on an Elderhostel tour. However, it was well tended and cheerfully staffed. My room overlooked the swimming pool. I was really tired when I arrived. But I couldn’t bear eating a meal in the large, featureless dining room and retired, instead, to a local tavern. Back in the room, I couldn’t hear myself think over the air conditioning system, and needed three bed pillows in the desk chair.

The fourth night was the best. A relatively new Holiday Inn Express. Nice room. Good wi-fi. Needed two bed pillows in the desk chair to reach the desk. Hookers not at the motel, but working the streets nearby.

Highway View, 2010

The Scene of the Accident, above, was taken on the morning of the third day. I was propped up in the desk chair on my mountain of bed pillows attending to a little e-mail before getting on the road to my first appointment when I heard a loud boom in a mechanical building on the other side of the pool. By the time I got to the window, someone down by the pool was yelling “CALL 911! CALL 911!”

In just a few minutes, every manner of constabulary, EMS and emergency equipment was on the premises. A maintenance man was pulled from the mechanical room. I still don’t know whether it was a mechanical explosion or something chemical. The man was out like a light and initially thought by co-workers to be dead. But after some attention from the EMS workers, he came around and there was a collective sigh of relief. The emergency workers quickly trundled him onto a stretcher and hauled him off to the local hospital, where I was assured when I checked out about an hour later that he was getting good treatment and would probably be back to work in a week or two.

Traveling life. Pretty damned glamorous, eh?


  1. OMG...I'm glad I won't be in the thick of it again until September. I'm laughing at your stories here, but once they start, it's definitely a different life being on the road, isn't it? I usually do stay in pretty nice hotels, for safety sake, but I am definitely the world's best haggler when it comes to getting a good rate.

  2. Again, your pillow story garners no symapthy from me. Short peole live that every day.