As I mentioned back in May, I like to eat at local indie restaurants when I travel. In that spirit, on one of my many recent trips I booked a room at a modest small-town motel that looks every one of its 60-plus years. Normally I would stay at the nice, new chain place near the freeway, where we have a rewards account and I could chalk up a few more points toward that next romantic getaway. But this particular motel and I–well, we have a history. I’d spent a night here years ago on a cross-country family trip and fondly remembered my large, quiet room. It would be fun to visit here again.
The retro kitsch began the moment I set foot in the lobby. No one was there, but I could hear someone talking behind the door marked “Office.” It sounded like a woman scolding someone. Perhaps her kids were calling and pestering her for the fifth time that day. Soon a weathered, gray-haired desk clerk emerged. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” she rasped in a chain-smoker voice. “I was on the phone about a reservation.”
My survival antennae went up. Do not mess with this woman.
“Of course, that’s fine,” I said, and proceeded to complete the check-in sheet she handed me. Yep, wrote my contact info and car description with a pencil.
As I handed it back to her, she fixed me with a glare. “Do you drink coffee?”
What’s the right answer? “Yes, I usually have a cup or two in the morning.” I heard the apologetic tone in my voice, and winced.
“Well, I make coffee in the office at eight every morning, and I don’t want to have to throw it out.”
I almost saluted. “Yes, ma’am, I’ll come by and get a cup.” Do not forget coffee.
Spacious, isn’t it? And of course you’re welcome to use the microwave and refrigerator… you just have to crawl behind that “I-Love-Lucy” desk to plug them in.
I’d unpacked my necessities and was getting comfy when my gaze strayed to the ceiling. My room had three ceiling light fixtures, plus one wall fixture above each queen-size bed. The wall fixtures were a pair, but. . . the ceiling. . .
The bathrooms in this place are legendary. They are huge, with the shower and toilet in one section, a separate tub beyond that, and finally, a long counter with two sinks. In true retro fashion, the tub and toilet are colored in hues to match the wall tiles. (Mine were a sort of weird Band-Aid pinkish-beige. Last time I stayed here, I had a Chevy Bel-Air blue bathroom.)
The floors feature ceramic tiles installed by someone with a pretty good eye. I know that because they ended up fairly straight, mostly… considering he didn’t use those spacers that keep the tiles lined up. The tiles had a quarter-round design in each corner, creating circles where each four came together. The overall effect didn’t actually give you vertigo unless you looked at it on the diagonal.
I’d show you my picture of the floor, but I took it from a diagonal angle. Every time I opened the file to resize it for the web, I’d get vertigo and fall off my chair.
After a good night’s sleep I got up and ready for action. I was going to put my suitcase in the car, but figured I’d better go get some coffee first. As I poured, the phone rang back in the office. A familiar, raspy voice answered with the motel name and added, “This is Nadine…” which I thought was the perfect name for her.
The coffee was awfully strong, but I didn’t say a word. Do not complain about the coffee.
By the way, I’m not telling you the name of the motel or where it’s located. I’m afraid word might get back to Nadine. If she thinks I’m making fun, I’ll be in trouble next time I stop there.
Thanks for reading,