What’s HAPPENED to Hotel Rooms?

room service

I’m thinking today about the hotel room I stayed in last week. Looks like the days of sending down for ice and whole bottles of Scotch are OVER, whatever those novels by Ernest Hemingway had you picturing.

On first arriving at that Florida hotel, I felt pretty pleased, if just by the promise of free breakfasts that would turn out to include scrambled eggs and hash browns, waffles and bagels, toast selections galore and many countless combination of sugar, cinnamon and chocolate. “This place really WILL be cushy!” I thought to myself  – right up until I opened the door to my room and was instantly ushered into a state of mystification.  Had an occupying army come through and decided to detain their captives here? The last time I stayed at this place, the floor of my room was covered in soft carpeting, and delicate, cone-shaped fixtures above bed, desk and closet sent warm soothing pools of light down over all. Plus there were enough bureau drawers to billet ten separate mama cats giving birth to ten kittens each.

But what did I see now? Under my feet a prison-worthy stretch of concrete that stretched from the door to the where the bed began, then gave way to the kind of thin, tough industrial carpeting you could take a blowtorch to without doing any damage.

There were no bureau drawers whatsoever, though I did finally find four small wire baskets behind a cabinet door. AND to top things off, fluorescent lights and only  fluorescent lights casting the same sickly greenish hue you see in cop shows featuring interrogation sessions.

interrogation room

Thus over the last few days I’ve been blaming this hotel chain for what I regarded as a real betrayal. But it came to me just this morning that hey, the room I took in New York back in December cost three times more than this one,  AND was three times more bleak.

This was the view out my window at the Wythe Hotel ….You’re supposed to think it’s cool.


And this was the bed, which to me looks an awful lot like what the Pilgrims slept on in the 1620s.


Note too the rickety piece of junkyard crap that served as a bedside table. And… see that window to the right? Maybe that doubles as a two-way mirror for the interrogators.  Because, come on, what hotel designers would come up with a room that allowed any and all other guests present to watch you when you shower? A big picture window, looking in on the bathroom? Really?

There was no carpeting anywhere in this place, but rather wall-to-wall concrete. And… there wasn’t a bureau drawer in sight.

The hotel said they would bring up a pastry and a tiny pot coffee for a mere eight dollars, but my family and I, with a four-and-a-half hour drive ahead of us, told our host in this fair city that yes, we’d love to take him up in his offer to meet us downstairs on our final morning for the hotel brunch.

Only he didn’t actually come to the brunch, which turned out to cost us three hundred and thirty dollars. THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS and we’d even said no to the mimosas!

But maybe travel was has always been a challenge when it comes to accommodations. Remember the two crafty innkeepers in Les Miserables? Then OR now, I guess it’s always been about that old bottom line.


Unblocking the Block

writers-blockI haven’t posted a scrap of writing here in almost a month. Quite a falling-off since the time I used to post daily, even IF some of the posts were musings about deodorant ads, or the Expire-By sign on a Tylenol bottle found in the back of my medicine cabinet (1989!), or the sight of lashed-together porta-potties sailing gaily down the highway on a flatbed truck.

I can’t account for this silence without boring everyone to death so I’m just going to begin again here, and by way of breaking this quiet streak, resolve to start each post with a “Today I…” and see how that goes. But as one famous scribbler once famously said, nothing interesting happens to most writers after childhood – bad news for us all – and since I am today paddling quietly through the waters of a lazy weekend, I’ll go back a few days in search of something.

So: Last Monday I could have (and should have) written this:

Today at the airport, a pig appeared at Security, inching along in line just like the rest of us. Though the pig was following all the rules and was connected by a conventional leash to a conventional-looking young woman, its porcine qualities uh, shall we say…stood out. It had a long skinny tail that it was wagging, a sleek body ending in a head on the scale of  Winston Churchill’s head if you think in terms of us humans….


…And it was walking on tiptoes, as pigs do, given the anatomy of their feet. Of course it also had that one-of-a-kind piggy nose, a delicate flower of an organ that seemed to tremble minutely in reaction to the foreign smells surrounding it.

People were staring at this pig in utter astonishment, remarking to one another and pulling out their phones to capture a picture. It was as if Noah’s arkful of specimens had never settled crookedly on the peak of Mt. Ararat at all.

It’s true that a TSA person immediately hustled into the line and ushered the pair away but then didn’t both pig and person appear again? Yes they did: on the safe side of Security where I found myself sitting beside them as I pulled on my boots and the young woman pulled on her shoes. Since her pig  was already wearing the ‘toe shoes’ Nature gave it – the young woman and I had the chance for a few words.

“Is the little guy anxious?” I asked, noting the foam gathered around its mouth.

“Oh God no,” the young woman replied, adding almost wearily, “We do this all the time.”

And with that the two trotted off, leaving me to marvel yet again on the sometimes-damnable quiet of my own usual days. But silent no more I here vow! Henceforth I’m going to by-God look for fit musings whether about adventures large or small, and come back to report about them here.