We’ve been through richer and poorer. The sickness and the health. I guess it stands to reason, then, that since most of our 42 years together have been “better,” that it was about time for the “worse.” And the “worse” just came right out and hit us over the head.

It was like this. I thought that since we live in Ohio, surrounded by large, interesting cities, we might want to spend the day and night in one of them. See the sights. Visit a museum or two. And top the whole day off with dinner in some gourmet retreat, followed by a romantic night in a B and B.

I have always had fantasies about B and B’s. And during our marriage, we have stayed in hundreds of them. Well, maybe forty or so. And despite the fact that perhaps two of them were as I imagined, I have doggedly continued to make reservations, always hopeful that the room with the fireplace that works, the real antique furniture, the little basket of cheese and wine, and the beauty of the bedrooms in Architectural Digest—that this room exists in an inn somewhere.

So I did what we all do. I went on the internet. And I trusted the pictures of the little hotel (I am not naming names. After all, this isn’t an expose.) And I had no idea that the neighborhood that it was in was what the spin doctors dub “transitional.” It just looked charming to me.

So when we got to the hotel, and the front door was locked tight, I should have known. After we rang the doorbell to no avail, I should have known. When I feared for my valuables as gangs of what looked like cast members from “The Wire” walked past, I should have known. But hope springs eternal.

Finally, after calling the “innkeeper” on my cell phone, they sent someone over to open the door. She probably came over from the nice neighborhood where she lived. It took that long. She let us into the “hotel,” where there was not a single human being in the building, the lights were all off, and as far as we could tell, there were no other “guests.” She showed us to our room, which did indeed have antiques.

The rest of the evening was memorable. Rather than recount, I will just include here for all of you the email that I sent to the “innkeeper” the following afternoon:

My name is Molly Campbell. I booked a reservation to stay at your hotel for last night, May 8. It was our 42nd wedding anniversary. We chose your hotel based on your lovely web site. I would like to tell you just why I would like a refund:

1. The Hotel was locked tight, and we had to wait on the doorstep for twenty minutes before we realized that no one was in the building. When I called you, you mentioned that you had left me a message. However, I gave you my land line number when making the reservation, so we did not get that message, as we were traveling.
2. When your employee finally appeared to show us the room, we realized that the building was completely empty—no staff members, no lights on downstairs, and no other tenants. It was creepy.
3. When we drove down the incredibly narrow alleyway after dinner to return to the room, we worried that there were no noticeable lights on in the parking area, and we had to walk past construction equipment down a dark passageway to get back to the front of the hotel—once again completely empty.
4. In our room, we discovered that there was no light working in the bathroom, only the fan. So taking a shower was completely out of the question. I had to use the light on my Kindle to see in there, and it was not pleasant.
5. There were no shades on the upper windows, and so the lights from the street shone into the room. Not enough to light the bathroom, however. But just enough to make me realize that sleep would be impossible.
6. My husband spent twenty minutes with the instruction manual, trying to get the television to go on, to no avail.
7. Finally, we decided that to actually try to spend the night in the room would be an exercise in futility, so we drove home at ten last night, STILL IN OUR PAJAMAS.

I am happy to report that we got a refund. I am not so happy to tell you that I have given up on my romantic fantasy about Bed and Breakfast Inns.

Does Motel 6 really leave the light on for you?

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