I had to travel to Riverside, California, for business last night.
I met a friend in Dana Point, California, for dinner, about an hour south of Riverside. Somehow we ended up eating at the bar, not by conscious choice, but by convenience. We were highly entertained by the guy in the dragonfly wife beater who continually tried to convince either one of us to join him later for a menage a trois. We declined.
After dinner I approached my hotel, somewhat warily. As I gathered my suitcase from the rental car trunk, I heard someone attempting to throw up, to heave, over the balcony. All the rooms opened onto the breezeway, in my opinion, not a good sign. I approached the lobby. It was locked. I investigated, then found a window. A bullet-proof window, much like those at all night service stations. I rapped lightly on the glass.
A tall, solid, bottled blonde woman (man?) appeared. She glanced at me. “Checking out?” she inquired.
I thought for a moment.
“No. Actually, I’m checking in. To spend the night. To sleep.”
Slower than molasses in December she processed my paperwork. “Room 201.”
I entered room 201. I stopped. Not that anything really stood out, but it wasn’t clean. I didn’t feel comfortable taking my shoes off. Maybe it was the jumbo sized whirlpool tub in the corner of the room. Right next to the king size bed. Surrounded by larger than life mirrors. Maybe it was the wallpaper peeling from the corners of the room. In some places, just barely peeling, in others, sheets offering themselves up. Maybe it was the hole in the bathroom wall. The hole where it appeared someone had kicked viciously. This definitely wasn’t the home away from home I was expecting.
As in most cases where I don’t feel comfortable, I decided to go to sleep. Pretend it wasn’t there. I opened my suitcase to hang my clothes. My shirt needed ironing. I went to the closet. I found an ironing board, but no iron.
With great reluctance, I trekked back down to the front desk. Rap a tat-tat.
“Hello….” She appeared once again, her gnarly bare toes clinging to the nubby carpet.
“Sorry to bother you, but I need an iron.”
“It’s in your closet.”
“Well, maybe it should be, but it’s not.”
“hmmmph. Well, I’ll need to go and find you another one.”
“Great. I’m in room 201.”
I went back to the room, wondering, wagering with myself how long this would take. 10 minutes? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Half an hour?
A mere 10 minutes later she appeared at my door. I opened the door and she shoved an apparatus into my hand. I meekly thanked her then dead bolted the door. I looked down at the item in my hand. Technically, it was an iron. It looked like the iron used to door arts and crafts projects, with unidentifiable junk stuck to it, but it was an iron nonetheless.
I quickly ironed my blouse then proceeded to get ready for bed. Reluctant to take off my shoes, I laid clean towels out on the floor and jumped from towel to towel, like a frog jumping from lilly pad to lilly pad in an algae filled pond. I did sleep through the night, only a few times awoken by strange noises coming from above, beside, below me.
When I checked out in the morning, I noticed something very curious. At midnight last night the parking lot was full. I circled trying to find a place. At 7:00 am the parking lot had 2 cars in it. I should have checked for the hourly rate.