Sunday, July 29, 2012

More hotel and motels

Well, I've never posted a cat picture before...

Department of Useless Information and other wanderings of the mind.

I keep lists. One of the lists I started keeping years ago is the name and location of the motels/hotels I have stayed at over the years. The current number is 731 and I am sure I have missed some. And that is separate hotels, not stays. Nights are probably in the 2500 plus range since I traveled like crazy for over 47 years.

I don’t know why I started the list. Seems like I was on a flight from SeaTac to Honolulu around mid ’84 when boredom set in and I started writing. Later on I transferred them to my computer. The files survived being moved from Apple to PC, Ashton Tate to Windows and numerous computer crashes. One of which involved the computer smoking up the First Class cabin on an UAL flight between Chicago and Denver. Electrical smoke/smell on board an in flight airplane will always get a lot of attention. In today’s world I probably would have been tasered, thrown to the floor and held down by a couple of 200 ponders until they could get the aircraft on the ground and turned me over to TSA.

From time to time I click through the list. It’s a wonderful way to bring back memories, mostly good.

I sometimes get asked what my favorite hotel is. It actually should be, “was” because hotels and motels tend to wear out quickly and it is always the staff that makes the average good and the good the best. I’ve stayed in 5 star’s in which the staff made me want to post a “Do Not Stay Here” sign out front to Mom and Pop’s with a bad bed and only three channels of snowy TV in which the staff made up for the lousy room and I left with a smile. People are the difference.

But not always.

I use to stay at a road side Holiday Inn, this was 30 plus years ago, that was near a customer that I called on regularly. My routine was to pick up messages late afternoon the day before and return the calls first thing the next morning. This one particular motel didn’t have the capability to allow a guest to dial “8” and be connected to an operator for a credit card call. It wasn’t unusual for me to have 6 or so messages so it was a real pain to have to call the front desk, wait for the clerk to answer, plug me into a outside line and dial 0 for me.

After one particular morning of delays and frustration as I was checking out I said, “It’s a real problem for me to have to call you every time I want to make a long distance call. I may have to start staying someplace else.”

“It’s up to you,” was the immediate response.

Needless to say I found a Mom and Pop up the road a bit that seemed to appreciate my business.

Reading back I see I called it a “a road side” Holiday Inn. Back then that meant it was beside a road and not in a town. They were often near interstate exits and maybe there would a gas station there. They weren’t all Holiday Inns and for the most part there wasn’t but one. Also back then the deal was a room “downstairs and out.” That meant a room that was downstairs and outside so you could park directly in front of the room, open the door and walk in versus a room inside that made you walk around the side and then through a passage way, etc.

Now days you see three or so motels, two or more gas stations and couple of restaurants. The country has grown.

And yeah, many motels and hotels, didn’t have direct dialing. You called the front desk, gave them the number, they made the call, connected you and when completed the operator would call them back and give them the charge which the marked up (surcharge) and added it to your bill.

Local calls were dial “9” plus the number. The typical charge was .25 cents.

Later direct lines, called “trunks” were added. Then you could dial, in most cases, “8” and you would be connected an operator for a credit card or collect call. Then, as technology improved, you could dial 8 + 0 + 555 666 7777 and the operator would come on, get your telephone company issued credit card number and release the call.

Yes, Virginia. There was a time in which cell phones did not exist.

One hot summer day I arrived at a customer’s office only to find out that the engineers, who I wanted to see, were on strike duty and doing repair and installation work at not too distant town.

So I called the motel where they were staying, made a res and left a message that help was on its way. (The town was dry.) On the drive over I stopped at a hardware store, bought a small wash tub, put it in my trunk, dropped in a couple of cases of beer, covered it with ice and drove to the motel.

I backed the car up towards the walk in front of the rooms and we proceeded to pop a top. I was a much appreciated man. After a beer or too one of the guys said, “You know there is a perv here?”

“What?” I replied, being the possessor of quick wit and sharp interrogation techniques. “How’d ya know?”

“Come on,” he said walking away.

Now the motel was a two storey in an L shape. Rooms were on both sides with a service hall running the length of the building for space to provide water, sewer and telephone connections.

“The lock on the entrance door is broke,” he said as he opened the entrance door to the service hall.

“Look,” he said pointing down the hall

The hall was dark and every so often you could see a light shining through a hole.

He closed the door and then led me to his room; another guy’s and then mine. Each room had small hole located in such a way the bath area could be viewed.

“What you gonna do,” I asked. “Call the police?”

“Nope,” he said. “We’re gonna be here for at least a month. I’m gonna wait til some real big guy shows up with his wife and I’m gonna show it to him the first morning.”

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper

 “It’s the presumption that Obama knows how all these industries ought to be operating better than people who have spent their lives in those industries, and a general cockiness going back to before he was president, and the fact that he has no experience whatever in managing anything. Only someone who has never had the responsibility for managing anything could believe he could manage just about everything.” - Thomas Sowell in Reason Magazine

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