An Ode to Hotels and Rest Stops

As I wrote about before I have been traveling a bit for work. It is nice to be out of the office and experiencing different parts of the local area. I love meeting new people and interacting with them. It is great stuff. Traveling, though, is something else. Hotels are strange places and rest stops even stranger.

Hotels have some wonderful features these days. The one I stayed at last night had free soda, newspapers, bottled water, tea, coffee, milk and cookies. And of course the obligatory, free breakfast buffet. I love breakfast. Therefore, you would think I would really love a free breakfast. Meh, not so much. In the breakfast rooms, you are forced to hang out with your fellow travelers. Some people take this to heart and really want to become a community. They look for conversations over the toaster. Ask questions about the fruit and express confusion over the waffle irons. The important thing to note is, the hotel is not a bed and breakfast. I know that is what the hotel companies are going for. I get it. I just don’t want to talk to these people while I enjoy the only meal I can stomach most days. We are not friends and I am not going to ever interact with you again. If I wanted to talk, guess where I would be, at a bed and breakfast. That said, I’ll be taking my food back to the room.

Everyone also needs to have manners. I know it’s early. I’m useless without my caffeine, too. Let’s face it, we are in a hotel, no one slept well. That said, please, PLEASE use the tongs when selecting your breads, bagels, and other pastry items. Am I the only one who sees ‘the emperor’s new tongs?’ I don’t think so. They are there for a reason.

The other strange thing about hotels is the ice machine. I feel compelled to use them while staying in some places, but resist the urge. I don’t know why the ice machine has this sudden seduction upon arriving to the hotel. Why, when presented with an ice bucket must we feel the need to use it? I counted two people who used the ice machine on this last trip. I understand if there is no access to a refrigerator in the room, but there was a refer in the room (and a microwave). What are you planning on doing with all that ice? Do you use that much ice at home? I love my refrigerator’s ice machine, too. It’s something I do not think I could live without now that I have one. I just don’t understand where people are going with all the ice in hotels. Are you creating a sculpture? Giving birth? What’s the deal, folks? I love ice water, too, but I can live without it for a night or two. I cannot figure out what the allure is. All I know is, I can fight it. I’m strong like that.

People like ice and they like breakfast, so do I. It’s just fine. It just is curious why there is behavior change when we get outside of our element. The other strange thing about traveling is the rest area. I know two things regarding my relationship with rest stops. I work hard to hold it for as long as possible, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. I also do not want to get off the road to go do my business. Thus, inevitably, based on these truths, which are self-evident, I must use the rest area. Many of them are surprisingly clean. It is the people again that really throw you for a loop. There are rest stops with food courts. Great idea for truckers and to make a few bucks. McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Sbarro (or some equally horrible pizza joint), Panda Express, and a newsstand. That’s all terrific, but I am looking to get in and out of these rest stops as fast as possible. I don’t want to buy souvenirs and eat greasy food. The other people eating, drinking, and making merry, they are in it to win it. That’s cool, but I am going to get to stepping. Other rest stops are cute, maybe even quaint, as they try to represent the area in which they are located. It is an effort to say “even if you are just driving through our state you now know what our area is all about because you stopped and peed here.” Some really go all out on this with small exhibitions and signage, while others just build the structure to reflect local architecture.

The rest stop bathrooms, for the most part, are usually clean. Make a run for it if you see a bus in the vicinity. Even the slowest among us can make it just fine. The buses, nine times out of ten, are filled with senior citizens. Upon entering the bathroom, it’s time for stall roulette. Open door. Clean? Nope. Next door. Clean? No poop, just urine droplets on the seat. That’s a maybe. This stall is on deck if I need it. Open the final door. Clean? Yes. Perfect. ‘Do your thing, do whatcha gonna do’ and then head over to the bay o’ sinks. At the sinks, there is usually one primadonna applying makeup or brushing her hair in the mirror. Chill! You are not going out on the town? Is this prom night? No, you are getting back in the car and driving for many miles. ‘Oh but I want to look good for my boyfriend..he.hee.’ Blech!

Every time I stop, I also think about what’s going on in the men’s bathroom. Rest stops are notorious for :ahem:: male hookups.” Not that there is anything wrong with that,” because there isn’t if you do it in the privacy of your own home. Love comes in a multitude of different ways. That said, I would never go to a rest stop at night. That would creep me out. I wonder how all of that male action started happening at these rest stops. “Hey, meet me at mile marker four-one-niner for a good time.” Ech! To each his own. It is just funny how I always think about that whenever I drive by one or enter one. Some of them are ideal places for dates. Dinner at Panda Express and ….um…yeah…that for dessert.

I guess at the end of the day all of these minor peeves are worth enduring because it is better than the daily grind of the office.

One thought on “An Ode to Hotels and Rest Stops

  1. A truly delightful reflection. You know I love stories about travel.:)
    By the way, I usually feel compelled to get a bucket of ice on the first night. The charm wears off by night two or three in the same place. Why is that? I wonder.

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