Friday, June 13, 2008

Too noir for comfort

I think I just checked into the Bates Motel.

Actually, it’s a nationally-advertised economy chain, but at the rate things are going, I’ll be amazed if I come out in one piece.

Here’s how it started: I was on my way to my mother’s house in South Carolina, and somehow got off course between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Palmetto State. At close to midnight, I pulled off the interstate and entered the lobby of a motel. It belongs to a chain that advertises on national TV, so I figured it had to be decent.

The night clerk, a portly, red-haired gentleman, actually tried to talk me out of staying at this establishment. If I hadn’t been drop-dead tired, he would have succeeded.

The first thing out of his mouth was, “If you’re used to mid-service level motels, this isn’t the place for you.”

By “mid-service level,” I’m thinking he meant the Ramada, or maybe a Holiday Inn Express.

Now, I’m no snob, and I was so bleary-eyed by this point, I would have accepted the room key to a pup tent.

So I said, “As long as you have wifi, I’m your gal.”

He took my charge card, handed me a map, and told me about a few things about the lay of the land, so to speak.

“This building here, this is where the truckers and prostitutes are,” he said, pointing to the farthest-outlying row of rooms on the map. “But you’re on the other side. Your room has a microwave and wifi. It’s nonsmoking”

I blinked. “Beyond nonsmokers, who stays on that side?”

“Mostly construction workers,” he said. “They stay here for months at a time. They get a little noisy, so be prepared. Do you want first floor or second?”

“First,” I replied. “How noisy do they get, as a general rule? Like, do they get knocking-on-doors noisy?”

He gave me a solemn look. “Yah. But we got security. Our guy’s got a crazy stare and one of his hands only has two fingers. So they don’t give him any crap. Gimme a call if they bother you and I’ll send him right over.”

That was vastly reassuring, I gotta tell ya.

As I drove around the building to get to my room, I saw a young woman in short-shorts and platform heels entering a truck. I have to assume she was not there for the wifi or the nonsmoking room.

There were three or four men hanging around the second-floor walkway as I parked in front of my room. They stared curiously as I unpacked my laptop and a pink stuffed horse I was taking to my niece as a present. Those men looked like they might be horse thieves, so I wasn’t taking any chances--Pink Horsie was coming with me.

My nonsmoking room has an acrid atmosphere that’s making my eyes water, so I think that part of the clerk’s description was a flat-out lie.

I think he was right about the prostitutes, though. And the noise in the parking lot is ramping up, so he might have been right about the party-hearty construction workers.

All I know is, if I hear a knock on the door, I’ll be calling on Crazy Seven Fingers, the security guard.

I can’t wait to make his acquaintance.


Camille Minichino said...

Wow, Kathryn. All I can say is, Don't take a shower!"

Linda O. Johnston said...

Yikes, Kathryn, be careful. That place is potentially even worse than the motel I stayed in overnight in Texas years ago and woke up with a cockroach as a bed companion!

Kathryn Lilley said...

At least I'm not in the lam with $40,000--then I'd know not to step into the shower, lol! No knocks on the door last night, though!

beckylevine said...

Whoa. And how long do you have to stay in this place?
Travel is not for wimps. :)

Monica Ferris said...

Kathryn? Kathryn? Are you all right? Where's the rest of the story?

I've stayed at a few scary places, but none as bad as that. Whew!

Kathryn Lilley said...

postscript: I fled the next day (with a little help from my sister) to the Marriott. I've never been so grateful for comfy beds and a luxury ambience! Had to leave the first hotel when I realized that the only single women there "working girls." I couldn't handle all the "friendliness" I was getting from the rest of the guests, lol!

parlance said...

Reminds me of the time my sister and I (thank God I wasn't alone, as you were) checked into a hotel in a part of London that was just a short distance away from the good areas. When we were asked to pay up front we thought it was a bit weird, but it was only as we turned away from the front desk that we noticed all the guys hanging around with bottles of wine in paper bags. Our room was a tiny bit of walled-off corridor and the 'English breakfast' was a boiled egg given to us in our hands. We, too, only stayed one night.

Kathryn Lilley said...

A hot boiled egg? Omigosh! I'd have been out of there too!