Over the years I‘ve had the opportunity to travel to a number of places for either work or writing-related reasons. I’ve held up pretty well during it all, except for those times when I was traveling so much that my rear end started resembling the upholstery pattern of my car seats. I did learn some lessons from my experiences, most importantly that you don’t want to drink a twenty-four ounce Diet Mountain Dew from a plastic bottle just before you drive up to Atlanta. Doing that can give the term, “the Foggy Mountain Two Step,” a whole new meaning.
When you travel a lot it gives you the opportunity to stay in motels. Lots of motels. And I learned really quickly which ones are the good ones and which ones are the ones that you need to avoid like a polecat. Believe me, even in this day in time there are as many fleabag motels as there are fire ants, and if you’re not careful you can easily find yourself in one. Like the one I found myself in one time where the showerhead was level with my chest. I had to bend over so far to wash my hair that I felt like a human parentheses. Or the one that I stayed in a couple of years back that had a TV with maybe four viewable channels, and the remote had no batteries in it. Oddly enough, right there on the nightstand was a little sign telling you that they had batteries for sale in the lobby for only three dollars apiece. Doesn’t this sound like the sort of mega classy joint that you’d remember fondly for years to come?
Because of experiences like that, I’m going to do a little public service article for y’all this month, and point out just what to do look for so that everyone can avoid all the fleabag and clip joint motels that are out there in travel land. Believe me, the landscape is dotted over with ‘em, and if I can save one person from an excruciating night in a true life Hades simulation, it will have been well worth it. Just consider the following:
1. If it costs less than fifty dollars a night for a room, avoid it like a beet casserole. Think about it – going to a movie nowadays costs maybe twenty or thirty dollars for two people. Snacks like popcorn and cokes can easily double that cost. Altogether, a couple could very easily spend fifty dollars or so for a movie. Common sense tells me that any place that will let you stay overnight for less than it costs for two people to attend a movie has got to have something wrong with it. Maybe something major wrong with it, like a door that won’t lock, or towels that smell like a bass, or the whole place was built on top of an ancient cannibal burial ground, or maybe something even worse. Just a hunch, mind you, but less than fifty, it‘s gotta be shifty. Go find another one.
2. If a motel deliberately misspells its name, avoid it like a cash strapped relative. Y’all know the types I’m talkin’ about – motels that have names like, “Thriftee Inn, “Sleepee Inn” or “Holliday’s Inn,“ or something else disgustingly similar. The folks running those joints want you to think they’re one thing, but, when you lay down and find that Mr. Cockroach and his family are in bed with you, it‘s too late. Hard to sleep when you’re perched up on top of a nightstand for the rest of the evening.
3. Watch out if a “pay per the hour” option is offered. No need to say a whole lot more about this, but if you still go ahead and book one of these joints you’ll find that the bed in the room is in real bad shape, but the furniture is in near perfect condition. Go figure.
4. If you ask about area restaurants, and the clerk only gives you the location of the motel’s vending machines, ask for your money back and leave. If they won’t give you a refund, still get in your car and go. And don’t look back, in fact, don’t even think about looking back.
5. If the place offers adult movies on their TVs, and you decide to watch one and it seems like the action is occurring in a room that looks a whole lot like yours, consider writing off the rest of the evening, packing up, and quickly riding on down the road. If you don’t, not only might you become an accidental adult film star, but you might also discover that some of these “reality based” adult films feature three bag haints (Juliette, Georgia-ese for super ugly people) that not only shouldn’t be filmed, but probably shouldn’t even be allowed outdoors in the daylight. Just my opinion, though.
And there you have it. Practical guidelines for keeping a fleabag joint out of your moteling future. I’d write some more, but I’m doing this on a laptop computer out on the road, and this motel I’m staying in is charging me a dollar a minute for electricity, the TV has a coin slot in it, and don‘t even ask me about the eight dollar per roll surcharge on the toilet paper…..