Notes from the Road III



I woke up and looked at the clock. It was 8 am.


“Oh, shit!!” I mumbled to myself and quickly grabbed some clothes and my toiletries and headed to the shower. Fortunately, the water was hot enough that it steamed the mirror up so that I didn’t have to watch myself showering. I quickly put some clothes on and packed everything to leave. I went to open the door and it wouldn’t open. I jiggled the handle every which way. I shook the door. Nothing would open it.


I looked around for a booklet that usually has the information and numbers for the place you are staying. There was nothing! I looked for a phone to call the desk. I didn’t see it on first glance because it was low profile and blended into the side tables. I went back to the door to try it. It wouldn’t budge. I was beginning to panic a little. I went back into the room and finally saw the telephone. I picked it up and dialed the front desk. It rang once and went to a busy signal. I hung up and waited a moment to dial back. It went straight to a busy signal.


I went back and kicked the door, hoping that someone would hear and open the door. Nothing. I called the front desk again and got a busy signal again. And again. I realized that I was going to be very late to my mother’s house that night (I had planned to drive the rest of the way on this day). So, I called my Mom and it went straight to voicemail. The time difference meant she was probably out playing cards with her friends. Ok. I tried to call the front desk one more time and got the same busy signal. I kicked and pounded the door. Nothing.


Out of some desperation, I called Paul to see if he could help – maybe by calling from outside the hotel. It gave me a busy signal. What? I was truly starting to panic a little now. I was locked in and the phone wouldn’t work. I banged on the door again, to no avail.


The last thing I could come up with was dialing the main phone number listed on the phone and using my own phone. When I reached the menu, I hit “0” to hopefully find a human to explain my plight to. The front desk picked up immediately.


After what seemed like hours someone came to the door. “Ma’am??” I heard a voice from the other side of the door.


“Yes!” I called in relief. I could hear her playing with the door from the other side.

“Hold your room key by the lock,” she said. I had not actually thought of that. When I retrieved the room key card, I almost hoped it wouldn’t work. If it had worked, I would have felt a little idiotic. It didn’t work.


“Do you have your key by the lock?”

“Yes.”

“Can you put it up toward the top of it?”

“It is.” Rattle. Rattle. Nothing.

“Okay, I’m going to have to call someone.”


Then there was silence. Silence. Nothing. I waited a bit and started kicking at the door again because I was afraid that no one was coming back.


“Ma’am, can you please stop kicking the door?” Came a voice from the other side.

“Sorry” I said, “I didn’t know you were still there.”

So, I waited. Eventually, I could hear another voice on the other side of the door. Then there was jiggling and rattling of the door and muttering voices. “Could you hold your card by the lock?” I heard a man’s voice say. Whatever, I thought. I did as I was told and said “It’s there.” Nothing. More jiggling and rattling. Nothing. More muffled voices and a black silicone thing that looked like a pot cover poking through between the door and its jamb.


Finally, about 15 minutes later the door was opened by a little man with but a few teeth who looked like he had seen some hard times and probably had picked a lock or two in his day, and a young black woman who was obviously the manager. “So sorry, ma’am,” she said. The man just grinned a nearly-toothless grin.


I told them both the story of the washcloth in the door jamb and how the door had supposedly been fixed. Was it my imagination, or was there some guilty looks coming from the toothless man? The woman told me that SHE was the one that had put the washcloth there to hold the door open. I wondered if the toothless man had been the one that had supposedly fixed the lock, but didn’t. I wonder if anyone lost their job over that. I hope they did.


“Do you want some help with your bags?” The woman asked. Since I hate asking for help for anything, I hesitated but thought “I DO NOT want to come back to this room!” “Okay,” I said apologetically (because that’s what mid-westerners do). The man tried to take my gigantic duffle bag, but I took it from him because I think it weighed more than he did. In the end, it was only the woman and I holding the bags and, somehow, as she and I were talking, the man magically disappeared. We loaded up the car and headed back to the front desk to check out. “I will comp you, ma’am.”


“I don’t need a comp, but I would certainly like a discount,” I said. I thought the bed and shower were worth something. She just looked at me. Later, when my mother mentioned “what would have happened if there had been a fire?” That was something I hadn’t thought of. I thought of missing a flight, but not of burning up.


At the desk, the manager said it was going to take a moment to do the paperwork so I should go and get some breakfast. I went to look for the promising “hot breakfast” that the woman the night before had promised me. The place for the offerings was large and I had high hopes. Nothing. There was nothing there except for things in sweaty plastic bags in a hot server. I guess because of COVID? Maybe. Anyway, there wasn’t a thing that I wanted. So, I went back to the desk empty-handed.


The woman handed me the paperwork and showed me how it had been refunded. At the desk, there was a sign for Coalition for Human Trafficking and how all the staff had been taught to recognize it. All I could think of was that room was used to lock people in for human trafficking.


“Well, for 20 bucks you can have the 58-year-old woman up in room 308.”


I took the paperwork and went back to the car where I dutifully checked the oil and was pleased to see that it nearly registered. So, I put more in.


After the incident in Lincoln, I just wanted to get the fuck away from the place. I high-tailed it out of there. I was hoping to find a Shell station so I could use Paul’s Shell card and get 5 cents off a gallon, but there was none. I settled on a Ce-nex since I don’t think I could have gotten much farther on the gas I had left. It was only 3.61 a gallon!! Everywhere else was more than 5 dollars.


Although it was a late start, I was feeling very good that I wasn’t still locked into a room at the Marriot Fairmont in Lincoln, NE.


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