|Char, Chris, Heather, & Sarah at the festival|
We had planned an overnight trip to Gainesville to visit our two college kids. At first, it was just a day trip, but I decided that we might as well make the three hour trip the night before and just get a room at a cheap hotel that way we could spend more time on Saturday with the kids. It was last minute, and yes, there was a game that weekend, but I was sure we could find something without spending an arm or a leg. Usually I don’t mind too much what we spend on a hotel as I want a good experience and a clean room. Of course, after our last stay at Best Western in Orlando, I had grown even pickier and more demanding. This trip, however, was about the kids and we weren’t planning on being in the room longer than a nap, so I told Teri to just find us a cheap one.
She found one; although cheap was still $110 and change. It was called the Americas Best Value Inn and the condition of the hotel was about the same as our government right now. The reviews, Teri said, had all been modest. “It was clean.”
“It did what it was supposed to.”
“No one killed us.”
After visiting the hotel, I wasn’t really sure if that last one was accurate. The place was clean and it did do what it was supposed to, but barely.
I should have known that something was off when the sign behind counter read “No Visitors after 8 pm.” There was also a hidden pet fee, but I wondered if the pet was hidden how they would know. Were they charging for someone’s imaginary friends, as well?
The room came with a microwave and a mini refrigerator. There were two beds, a dresser and even a television set, although we didn’t turn it on to see if it worked. There was no coffee pot, which I assumed was standard in all rooms these days and if you wanted an iron and ironing board you had to walk to the front desk to get it. The Americas was not much on service, again another parallel to our government. They must have had only one iron for the whole hotel because when Teri brought the one back we needed, it was still hot from the last use.
|I feel like I need to insert a quarter|
Most hotels that we stay in now come equipped with those miniature containers of shampoo and body wash, lotion and hand sanitizer. Not the Americas. Instead, mounted on the shower wall was a huge container, one side containing soap and the other side shampoo. Next to the sink was another with soap and hand lotion. I was afraid to even touch it. I imagined thick ooze being pumped out that had been in there from the 70s. To be honest, that’s how old these dispensers appeared. They were not modern by any means and were probably original equipment in the hotel.
The shower curtains were modern, however. In most hotels now they have gone with the semi-circle shower curtain that bends out away from the tub as opposed to a straight line along the tub’s edge. The Americas had purchased some of those shower curtains it appeared. What they did not purchase, however, were the curtain rods to go with them. Instead they still used the straight, square poles, which did not allow the circular holes to slide easily along its length. I could only assume that the curtains were on discount and bought in mass quantity. They’ll get the correct rods next time, I’m sure. But not soap dispensers. Those are still working well and saving money, because no one wants to use what’s in there.
Another comical luxury was their idea of towels. They had supplied us with what as the equivalent of a dish towel in order to dry our bodies off. I don’t know about you, but a dish towel is a last ditch option for when laundry hasn’t been done and there is nothing else available except paper towels. You’ve seen my size. I would need seven dish towels just to dry off the top half of me. I don’t know what they were thinking, but they weren’t thinking about me. These wouldn’t even work for the 9 year-old.
|"Don't touch it!"|
However, that wasn’t the worst part. The scariest part of our hotel experience was the headboards on the beds. In the middle was a phallic shaped design about eight inches long with ridges. I sat and stared at it a moment, baffled at the design or its meaning. As I pointed it out to the girls, making some crude joke I am sure you can imagine, it fell off in my hand. Char freaked out. “Gross! Don’t touch it. You don’t know what they used that thing for”
I had a pretty good idea what they used it for. Char planned on sleeping in the van. I was smart enough to bring my own pillow while the girls slept with their heads levitating, afraid to touch anything.
Later that night after visiting with the kids, we pulled back into the hotel parking lot and one of the hotel owners or managers were standing by his car, watching everyone as they came back from wherever. It was almost as creepy as the headboard toys.
The door was dead bolted and had that swing latch on it, but I still propped a chair in front of the door with something that would make noise if it fell. I was taking no chances.
We curled up to go to sleep. Well, I curled up. The girls practically stood in their spots to avoid touching the sheets. It was then decided we were definitely hotel snobs and would not just settle for cheap and quick again. Some things are just worth paying more for, like the ability to feel safe about laying your head down.
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