Monday, April 16, 2007

Lessons Learned

Those of you who have been around me for awhile know that I can be pretty frugal. I consider myself frugal in many things so that I can totally splurge on other things. Matt finds it so hard to understand how I can make the boys eat from the $1 menu when we go to McDonald's, but still take them to get their haircut instead of doing it at home. But, this makes perfect sense to me - the more times I make them eat from the $1 menu instead of a Happy Meal, the more times I can pay to get their haircut, because I HATE to cut their hair at home. I'm not very good at it, and that is one area that it is soooo obvious when you don't do a good job.

Anyway, we had a craft show this weekend, and it was far enough from home that I needed to arrange 2 nights of accommodations. Usually, we put our camper on the back of the pickup and pull our trailer with our wares to the show. ~Yep, we're real carnies, we are!~ Anyway, I was going to have to be there by myself on Thursday and Friday, didn't really want to drive the truck with the camper and trailer, and also didn't want to stay in a parking lot by myself. So, I figured if I could get a couple nights at a hotel at a decent rate, we would save a bit on diesel by not pulling the trailer and hauling the camper, and I could get off easy in the driving department (not to mention, a real shower in the mornings)!

Well, the event we were doing had the small town pretty darn full. I could get a hotel for Thursday night, but not Friday night. Bummer - what to do? Well, I decide to take the Thursday room while I can still get it, and continue the search for a Friday room. I finally find a room 30 miles away for Friday night.

Lesson 1 - If all name-brand hotels within 60 miles have no vacancy, and you find a room 30 miles away, there's probably a reason they still had a room . . .

In my desperate attempt to not drive the truck & trailer combo, I am ignoring the small voice in the back of my head asking if this is a good idea. I go to Travelocity, and it did not show a Travelocity rating, but of the whopping two people who reviewed this hotel, it had a 5/5 "Smiley Face" rating. Oh, then it must be okay, right?

Lesson 2 - If there isn't an actual Travelocity or AAA rating on a hotel, it's not because they just haven't gotten around to it yet. And, for all you know, the two users that rated this hotel could very well have been the drug dealer down the street and the person who rents the rooms by the hour!

So, I begin my craft show trek. Got set up on Thursday, and stayed at a most pleasant hotel on Thursday night. Cookies and milk in the lobby at 8:00, a decent Continental breakfast in the morning, a nice-sized, clean room. What more could you ask for? The small voice in the back of my head is still a bit active, so I check with the front desk two separate times to see if there may have been a cancellation for Friday night. No luck.

Matt is flying in from his training on Friday night, and scheduled to meet me at the hotel sometime after the show. He flies in at 9:00, but the airport is a couple hours away, so we are figuring meeting up about 11:00. The show was done for the day at 9:00, and by the time I got loaded up and grabbed dinner, it was about 9:30. I drive the 30 minute trek to the nearby town, and find my hotel. I drove right by it at first - not because I missed it, but because I hoped I was dreaming. Maybe it would look better coming from the other direction. I call Matt on the cell phone . . .

"Honey, remember that great hotel we stayed at in Vegas - you know, the one we got with the free trip? - I think they have transplanted its unwanted step-brother up here to Idaho, because it looks almost the same, except actually worse!"

Matt is still at least 1 hour away.

I check into our room - a process which takes awhile, because the front-desk gal is apparently very tired, not very interested that I am there, and fielding multiple phone calls from other tenants that are angry about the incessant barking dog in the parking lot - apparently these people thought that for their $46, they should be able to get a decent night's sleep. There are many people grouped in the parking lot, as well as the parking lot of the very loud bar next door, and said dog seems to be in a heightened state of nervousness, thinking maybe someone is going to jump right in that tie-dyed '76 Pinto and steal it. Or, maybe it was the self-camoed Toyota pickup - I really didn't give the parking lot too much of my attention - I was too busy fearing for my life.

Lesson 3 - If you fear for your life in the parking lot of your cheap motel, give up the $46 and move on, already!

But no - I paid my $46 + tax, and I am tough enough to stay in this room. At least long enough to wait for Matt!

I park the truck in front of our room, and now I have some decisions to make. I have not had a fabulous day at the show, but do I bring my cash box in, or leave it in the car? Is there someone watching me as I park my car, or (most likely) could they not care less? Maybe I snuck in unnoticed - in my F350 diesel pickup. Okay, probably not. It's okay, this parking lot is so noisy, no one is going to pay me a second glance.


This is the sound that is made, as the once-loud parking lot goes eerily quiet, and I clutch my cash box, textbook style, to my chest - and all the change falls down to one end. Oh crap! How fast can I get to my 2nd floor room, unlock the door, get in the room, lock every possible lock, and shut the blinds? About 5.5 seconds! Oh double-crap! I've left my laptop case in the pickup. And, there is no way I'm going back down those stairs until Matt gets here - it's also just as unlikely that I'm opening these shades even 1 centimeter to make sure the pickup is okay. I'm so sorry Norm (my boss) - if the laptop gets stolen, I'll replace it with my own money! You know, cause I've saved so much by coming to this $46 hotel!

I look around - the carpet is dirty, the walls stained, the bathroom just plain scary. I'm certain there are diseases just waiting to be caught if I actually pull the covers back on the bed. How long has it been since I last called Matt? Seems like hours - - - - it's been 10 minutes. Still about 1 hour to wait. And, the dog still barks . . .

Wait, this fancy phone that I have plays iTunes! I run down my phone battery, playing Rodney Atkins "If You're Going Through Hell" over and over and over. Two girls are fighting outside--wow, I'm learning new words by the minute. Tires squealing. Still lots of noise from the bar.

Matt shows up - thank you, honey, for driving so quickly to my rescue. You are truly my knight in shining armor!

It takes him about 11 1/2 seconds to figure out that we cannot stay in this hotel. Have I mentioned lately that the dog still has not shut up??? Matt calls some other motels nearby--first one, no rooms at all. Second one, only one room left, and it's a smoking room. But, on the third try - the pot of gold. The local Comfort Inn has room available - a non-smoking room, complete with continental breakfast. That's good, because if I'm going to pay for two rooms tonight, I definitely won't have a budget to be buying us breakfast in the morning!

Lesson 4 - The folks at the Choice Hotels Network (i.e. Comfort Inn, Quality Inn), will not let you down. It may not be the Hilton, but let me tell you folks, it's a far, far cry from the "No-Tell Motel."

Lesson 5 - Paying for two hotel rooms in one night is definitely not frugal - boys, even the $1 menu is going to be off-limits for awhile!


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

What a hilariously told post Heather. I loved it. Oh..this is funny.

Darla said...

Well, I felt bad I didn't ask how your weekend was..... OH MY GOSH.... i could just see you running up the stairs.... peeking out the blinds & fearing for your life...what an awful experience. Well you got the icky show out of the way the rest will be great I'm sure.... You should have called me I would have stayed on till Matt got there....
See ya tommorrow

Janice said...

I think they must have a chain of those hotels - we stayed in one of them 20 years ago in New Mexico. I think we only paid $20 for the night though - must be inflation! We took our own sleeping bags in and slept on top of the bed. I don't think we showered because I seem to remember a big hole in the floor of the bathroom that showed down to the room below us!!
Ah...what wonderful memories - what is wonderful is that it is a memory and isn't happening now!!!