Totally Freakin’ Inadequate

I’m still on the road this week, and maybe my bad hotel karma has finally run its course, because my hotel in Regina didn’t feature hookers, cattle, or rappelling nudists.

It did, however, make me wonder who makes the purchasing decisions in the hospitality industry.  I stayed in a king suite at a nice hotel (not on my own dime – you know I’m too cheap for that).  But despite the upscale surroundings, I felt… cheated.  Because this hotel, like most I’ve stayed in recently, apparently purchased their supplies from the Totally Freakin’ Inadequate Supply Company.

The low-flow shower head was so pathetic I had to stand under it for five minutes before I at last felt a trickle of water on my scalp.  Granted, I have long, thick hair, and it usually takes a few seconds before anything penetrates.  Some would argue that nothing ever penetrates, but that’s another story.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually quite rabid about conserving water.  I grew up on a farm where every drop of potable water was trucked in.  Most people think “bath night” is a tale from the dark ages, but on our farm, it meant two inches of water in the bottom of the bathtub.  The cleanest person went first, the dirtiest last.  I’m not even going to describe what the water looked like by the time five bodies had gone through.

But I digress.  My point is, I fully agree with water conservation, but you have to apply some logic.  It takes X amount of water to wash your hair.  If X is supplied in five minutes, that’s fine.  But if it takes ten minutes to supply X, you’ll be standing there for ten minutes.  You’re not saving water, you’re just wasting time.

The lighting underwhelmed me, too.  There are lots of good options available for compact fluorescent bulbs.  Sadly, the hotel didn’t choose any of them.  When I flipped the switch, nothing happened.  I assumed I’d hit the wrong switch, so I tried the other one.  Still nothing.  At last, the light flickered to life with a series of seizure-inducing flashes.  Not inadequate once it got going, but definitely disturbing.

The toilet paper was totally freakin’ inadequate.  They think they’re saving money by buying cheaper toilet paper?  I could see through the stuff.  Trust me, nobody is ever going to use only three squares of single-ply, micron-thin toilet paper.  Ever.

The towels, too, failed the adequacy test.  At home, I call that size a “hand towel”.  That’s because it fits hands nicely.  Not bodies.  At least, not this body.

But what do I know?  Maybe their target market is bald, constipated midgets with excellent night vision and no tendency toward epilepsy.  It’s all about niche marketing these days.

So here’s my question.  Why spend money on high quality furnishings, and then cheap out on the things that, frankly, guests notice more than the tub and tile?  Half price is nice, but there’s no actual cost saving when you have to use twice as much.  And it annoys the hell out of the folks like me.

But maybe I’m just cranky because my fingers went through the toilet paper.  Again.

Sorry for my tardiness in responding to comments this week.  I’m helping my step-mom after her breast cancer surgery, and I haven’t had much time for blogging or visiting anybody else’s blogs, either.  I hope to be back to my usual routine soon.  Thanks for sticking with me!  🙂

Flash Fiction: “Freedom”

This is in response to a flash fiction challenge based on a photo.  Under a thousand words, in a week or less.  Here’s the only part of the picture I really noticed:

Me:  “Oh, God…”  *shudders*

Those letters in the sky.  They chill my soul.  They do not spell “HOTEL”.  They spell “Weird things will happen here.  Enter at your own risk.  And just try to sleep.  Buwahahaha!”

And that’s just the sight of the sign that’s freaking me out.  My bad hotel karma has scarred me for life.

This preamble is an attempt to justify the fact that my story is more about the journey than the destination.  I’m too traumatized to write about the hotel itself.

But I did use the word “hotel”.  Three times.  That’s gotta count for something.

Here’s “Freedom”.  All constructive criticism welcomed and appreciated.


He spotted her about twenty miles west of Winnipeg.  She turned and stuck out her thumb as the rig got closer.  And smiled.

It was the smile that stopped him.  Well, that and the hot body and long, silky hair.  He leaned over and popped the passenger door open.  “Where’re you headed?”

“As far west as I can get.”

“Your lucky day.  I’m going all the way to Vancouver.”

“Great, thanks for stopping.”  She hopped up into the cab.  She moved like a teenager, but there were a lot more years on her than he’d first thought.  The shiny brown hair was shot with grey.  Deep crows-feet around the biggest, bluest eyes he’d ever seen.

“Dave Smith.”  He stuck out his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Dave.  I’m Beth.”  She shook his hand firmly.  She sounded educated and confident.  Clean clothes.  Small backpack.  Not your typical hitchhiker.

He pulled back onto the highway and ran up through the gears.  “Car trouble?” he guessed out loud.

“No.  Just looking for some freedom.  And I’d like to see the Oregon coast.”

She rode in silence.  Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her smiling.  Around Moosomin, he yawned and rubbed gritty eyes.

“Are you tired?”

“Yeah.  Short turnaround yesterday.”

“Do you want me to talk to you?”


She turned those blue eyes on him, and the next thing he knew, he was telling her about the trucking business and his hometown.  Then about the failed marriage and the bitter ex-wife and the kids that didn’t seem to care if he lived or died as long as they got the monthly cheques for their college educations.

He blew through Regina on autopilot, still talking.  After so many years on the road, he could do this trip in his sleep.  Almost had, a few times.

At Moose Jaw, he pulled in.  “Need to eat?”

“No, I’ll just stretch my legs.”

He left her walking around the parking lot.  Watched her through the glass as he stood in the takeout lineup.  Long legs.  Nice ass in those snug pants.

He wasn’t usually a chatterbox, but she encouraged him.  Six hours flew by.  In Brooks, he asked her where she wanted to eat.

“I don’t need anything.”

“You haven’t eaten all day.”

“It’s okay.”

He frowned.  “Do you need money?”


He shrugged and went in to eat.  None of his business.  Outside Calgary, he glanced over.  “I have to stop here for the night.  Regulations.”

She looked at him with those big, blue eyes.  “Will you get a hotel?”

“Yeah.”  His usual stop was a dive, but it was cheap and clean enough.  “You can sleep with me if you want.  I mean, uh, in the hotel.  You know.  Not…”

She smiled at him then.  “I’d like to sleep with you.”

“Uh?”  He instinctively glanced over his shoulder.  Nope, nobody else in the cab.  Took stock of his own weary eyes and greying stubble in the rearview mirror, looked down at the generous gut stretching out his T-shirt.  Hole in the T-shirt.  When did that happen?  He shook himself.  Tired.  Must’ve heard wrong.

She leaned over and kissed him.

Hadn’t heard wrong.  Holy shit.

Stuff like this didn’t happen to guys like him.

He didn’t get the regulation hours of sleep that night.  Hauled himself up out of that long soft hair and fine white skin after some head-banging morning sex.  “We need to get breakfast and get on the road.”

“You go ahead.  I’ll wait by the truck.”

“Don’t you eat?”


“You don’t have any money with you, do you?”


He dragged her into the restaurant and bought her a big breakfast.  She ate like it was her last meal.

Heading up into the mountains, he watched her smiling as she gazed out the window.  She got him talking again.  At lunchtime, he bought takeout for two.  She ate everything he gave her, and then took him into the sleeper and rocked the whole damn rig.

He made up reasons to stop often.  Rolled into Vancouver late; sore and exhausted and grinning like an idiot.  Best trip ever.  Holy shit.

In the parking lot, she said, “Thanks, Dave.”  Kissed him and turned away.

“Wait.  Where are you going?”


“Come with me instead.”


“Winnipeg.  I leave tomorrow.”

She smiled.  “I’m finished there.  I just want to see Oregon.”

“I’ll take you.”  The words burst out before he could stop them.

“You know you can’t.”

He kicked at the front tire.  He knew he couldn’t.

“Call me.”  He handed her his card.  She smiled, and he knew she wouldn’t.

“Wait a second.”  He pulled out his phone and called a couple of his buddies.  Found her a ride south.  Spent another long, hot night with her in another cheap hotel.

Next morning, she thanked him again and kissed him goodbye.  Got in Frank’s truck.  Waved and smiled as they pulled out.

Three weeks later, he got the call.  Lawyer in Winnipeg.  Yeah, he was Dave Smith.  Yeah, he’d been on the Winnipeg-Vancouver haul a few weeks ago.  Beth who?



Sitting in the lawyer’s office, twisting his cap between his hands.  She’d been found dead in the woods in Oregon.  Starvation and exposure.  Not far from the road.  No sign of foul play.

He hadn’t even known her last name.  Didn’t know why the hell the lawyer would call him.  Suit droning on, something about validity of handwritten wills.

“…to Dave Smith, with sincere thanks for enriching my last days, and for helping me reach my final goal, I leave all my worldly goods.  Thanks, Dave.  I found my freedom.  Blessings.”

Over a million bucks.

She hadn’t needed him.  She could’ve flown there in a private jet, drinking champagne all the way.  Lawyer said he couldn’t understand it.  She hadn’t been sick, didn’t seem depressed.

He knew the truth.  She was just… finished there.  Looking for freedom.

Holy shit.

For those who asked about Beth’s story, it’s here:  “Freedom, Too“.

Bad Hotel Karma

I don’t know what I did in a previous life to deserve this, but I have bad hotel karma.  Here are a few of the more memorable examples:

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  I arrived, only to find that the door to my room had been recently kicked in.  And repaired.  With packing tape.  Yeah.  Big splinters out of the door frame, all held together with clear tape.  It looked as though somebody had gone out the window fast, too.  They’d almost gotten it back in the frame afterwards.  There were just a few gaps here and there.

Many people would consider this ample reason to vacate.  Instead, I went out to buy a bottle of wine.  I was young(er), and this made sense at the time, for reasons that escape me now.  Because usually I’m a beer drinker. 

I stood in line to buy an overpriced bottle from off-sales (if you’re from Saskatchewan, you know what I’m talking about).  A creepy-looking guy was in line behind me, so I stepped aside to let him buy his beer first.  When I returned to the parking lot with my bottle, he was still sitting in his truck.  I drove away.  He followed me.  All the way back to the hotel. 

I discovered shortly afterwards that he was the hotel manager.  I didn’t know whether to be reassured or not.  He hadn’t actually been following me, specifically, as far as I knew.  But he was definitely creepy.  And he had a key to my room.  Not that he’d have needed it.  He could have farted in the general direction of the door and the whole thing would have given way.  I didn’t sleep well that night.

Manitoba.  The only hotel in a small town which shall remain nameless.  It was definitely a deluxe establishment, with a bathroom on each and every floor.  Three, in total.  I spent the night sleeping on the doormat on the linoleum floor, because it was both cleaner and more comfortable than the bed.  The cattle in the adjacent feedlot started bellowing at four in the morning.  The smell was unspeakable.  But I’m willing to concede that this one may have been more a matter of poor choice than karma.

Lest you think that my ill fate arises from the fact that I’m a cheapskate, allow me to present another hotel experience.  Swanky high-rise in Vegas.  Two hundred bucks a night, back in the ’90s.  (No, I wasn’t paying.  So I’m cheap.  Shut up.) 

At two o’clock in the morning, some nutcase rappelled down from the roof past my twelfth-floor window.  Hooting and hollering.  Feet bouncing against the glass.  Thump.  Thump.  Thump.  I didn’t get up to look.  I just didn’t want to know.  I heard the rumour later that he was naked, so I guess I should have looked.  You don’t see naked guys rappelling every day.  I’m thinking that he’d have wanted to be careful putting on the harness, though.  Maybe that’s why he was hollering.

Lethbridge, Alberta.  Another hotel, another night.  And no, this one wasn’t cheap, either.  There was an ill-fitting connecting door to the next room.  Around midnight, the neighbour stumbled into his room, immediately lit up a cigarette, and dialled an escort service.  The cigarette smoke drifted under the door.  He demanded, “Sex!  Lots of sex!”  Middle European accent.  Every word clear as a bell through the useless door.

Since I was awake anyway, I sneaked out of my room to get something from the car.  He caught sight of me and thought I was his hooker.  I’m not quite sure what he found attractive about my baggy jeans and sweatshirt, but then again, he was pretty wasted.  I ignored his bawdy shouts and lay low until the real hooker arrived.  She was wearing a nice little black business suit.  She was much more tastefully dressed than I was.  Should that bother me? 

I sneaked back into the room and called the front desk.  They declined to acknowledge that there was a problem.  Fortunately, the guy had all the staying power of wet toilet paper.  If that was his idea of “lots of sex”, no wonder he had to pay somebody.  He was done in minutes, the hooker left, and I actually did get some sleep that night.

Bad hotel karma runs in our family, too.  If my sister ever writes her memoirs, don’t miss them.

Got any bad hotel stories?  Come on, I know you do.  Share, share!