Previous Installment: Moving to Vegas: The Drive Begins
The first day of driving was nearly over, but we still had miles to go before we could rest.
It was at this gas station that I discovered one really huge annoyance of $2.60 diesel fuel and 35-gallon fill-ups beyond the simple math of paying nearly $100 for a tank of fuel and knowing I would need about 9 of them to make this trip. I discovered that my credit cards (debit cards actually) only pre-approved $75.00 on most pumps, which meant two transactions and two receipts for each fill up.
I don’t need this, but what can I do? I grinned and put up with it. Pump $75. Switch cards, pump another $25 or so. Bleh.
We weren’t exactly lost but we sure weren’t any closer to the Ramada we were seeking. Even asking for directions from the clerk in the store didn’t help.
“Three lights up and then right” is what we were told.
Three lights up and then right is what we did. And a few blocks later, no Ramada was in sight.
So after a chorus of “fuck its” from Dad and me, we chose a new hotel: the Holiday Inn. This one was right by the main exit and we remembered seeing it. And they had a restaurant and pool, although no Continental Breakfast. Even though it was $69 a night, it was still within budget, as long as we found cheaper accommodations the next night. We would just have to do without pastries and juice the next day.
I used to travel a lot for business, and usually checking into a hotel is about five minutes of work. Of course, this usually done with a clerk who has been on the job for a while and knows their job. That wasn’t my luck this particular evening. I got a very friendly clerk who had been on the job for about three weeks and still did stuff by the book, and I mean that literally.
She didn’t do a damn thing without paging through a three-ring binder and making sure that the procedure she was undertaking was the correct one, followed to the very last letter. And she liked to double check things, sometimes twice.
After twenty-five minutes (conservative estimate) of checking in, I asked where I could park my truck, since with the trailer, I was a bit more than 45 feet in length. He response was “Oh Jesus!”. Now I know I told her ahead of time I had a large truck, but I guess in the nearly half-hour of looking stuff up in her magical instruction book, she forgot about this. Now we had to re-assign me room so that I could park reasonably close to it. UGH.
I admit I’m not a patient guy, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I kept my cool during this ordeal. I didn’t get sarcastic. I didn’t get angry. I didn’t even ask for someone who could take care of this before we had to check out. I suspect 13 hours in the cab of a truck and a fruitless search in questionable neighborhoods for a non-existent Ramada makes one tired enough that being clever doesn’t matter so much as securing appropriate lodging for the evening.
Despite my patience, half-an-hour of checking in is ridiculous by any standards. I did ask for some sort of little thank you for putting up with this. Since they had a restaurant and bar, I figured a couple of drink coupons would work. Drinks would take the edge off. So I asked if I could have a few.
According to “The Great Book of All Things Holiday Inn” (of course she looked up what to do when a customer has been delayed unreasonably, called you on it, and wants drink coupons) the only way she could issue drink coupons was if I joined their frequent guest club, whatever it’s called. I forget the exact name, but it’s something important-sounding like “Priority Club” or “Presidential Lackeys” or some such thing. And that’s when I remembered that I was already a member since I had stayed at several Holiday Inns in the course of business a few years ago.
After seven more minutes of fruitless searching, she couldn’t find my name, despite the fact that there cannot be that many other Chris Mospaws who ever lived or worked at the three addresses I gave her.
I filled out my application and got my coupon … good for $6 at the bar. I’m not sure it was worth the effort, but it was a small victory.
This woman absolutely would not budge on price, either. I reminded her that half hour of time it took her to check me in at the rates I charged my customers at the time is worth nearly the price of the room, but it was still no go on any discount. Since I had room keys and $6 worth of drinking to do, I decided it wasn’t worth further effort to save a buck.
I suspect one of the other clerks would have done me better, but one thing that you can’t do is make a fuss in a hotel lobby. It simply doesn’t do anybody any good, especially at 9:00pm. Doubly so when you’re tired and cranky, and there really weren’t any other viable hotel options within a reasonable distance (in other words, within sight).
Of course, if the room was in perfect shape that would be in someone else’s story, so no fears there. The room needed, um, help. It was old and tired, kind of like Dad and me at this point. There was a piece of shower stall missing and an ugly mildewed area of broken caulk left in its place. The coffee maker looked OK except that the pot was gone. At least the sheets were clean and the pillows didn’t stink. Either that or my senses were failing one by one, with smell going first.
We had a couple of minutes to soak in the luxury and grandeur of our room when my favorite hotel clerk called to make sure the room was OK. I was honest and told her it wasn’t really OK, but that getting a new one would take too damn long and that we didn’t want to deal with changing room and having yet another delay. I didn’t even bother asking for a reduction in room rate at this point. I was tired and defeated. It was time for dinner and then sleep.
Dad and I went over to the bar and ordered our scotches. This was after having a couple in the room to prime things. Nothing on the menu of snack foods sounded too appealing, so we decided to drink dinner instead. We each had two, and the bartender, who was kind of cute, decided to buy us a third round. I don’t remember her name, but the third scotch at the bar sure tasted nice and had the desired effect.
I slept well.
Next Installment: Moving to Vegas: More Driving