6.20.2008

Galloping through hotels

A note to all you business travelers who spend half your lives in hotels: I don't know how you survive it.

Granted, as a work-at-home type, it's hard for me to relate to you who hop from city to city in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Most days, the farthest I travel is out to the driveway to pick up the newspaper. So maybe it's just me -- I'm not accustomed to life on the road. But I've traveled a lot in recent years on book tours, etc., and I don't see how anyone ever adjusts to night after night in strange beds.

Whether it's a five-star hotel or a cheap roadside motor inn, renting a place to spend the night always comes with problems. Everything's unfamiliar. You're far away from all your usual stuff. Every "amenity" in a hotel room reminds you that you're not in the one place where you'd really like to be -- home.

Hotels beds are too hard or too soft, compared to your usual bed, and the sheets never stay on right. The coffeemaker's tiny. All the light switches are in the wrong places. Something's making a buzzing noise. The soap smells weird. The towel rack is perfectly placed for bruising your shoulder every time you turn around in the bathroom.

Just when you've mastered the learning curve of a new room, have figured out which switches operate which lamps, it's time to move to another city and start all over again.

My main problem with hotels is that I can't sleep in them anymore. Since the whole idea of a hotel room is to provide a temporary place to sleep, insomnia more or less defeats the purpose. If I'm going to be awake all night anyway, why spend money on a hotel? I could've stayed at the airport.

Not only can I not get comfortable in hotel beds, there are all those unfamiliar noises. The air conditioner sounds like a jet engine. Drunken revelers are partying in the hall. The people next door apparently smuggled in a horse and are riding it around the room, whooping.

(I recently stayed in a kitchenette suite, where I was awakened every hour by the KA-CHUNK of the icemaker. No sleep, but more ice than Antarctica. I could've counted ice cubes rather than sheep.)

There's not a lot to do in a hotel when you're wide awake at 3 a.m. -- unless you're in Las Vegas.
If sleep's out of the question, then a hotel room becomes simply a place to wait for the next appointment. By yourself.

Solitude and strange surroundings and spare time conspire to breed bad habits. Pretty soon, I'm sitting around in my underwear, watching endless hours of idiotic TV, scratching and burping, snacking too much and drinking alcohol from tiny airline bottles.

I use way more towels than I would at home, then throw them on the floor, knowing the maid will pick them up. Spend too much time in front of the fluorescent-lit mirror, sighing over gray hair and wrinkles. I start thinking: What this hotel room really needs is a horse . . .

Then it's daylight again, time to pack up and move to the next city, the next business appointment, the next hotel.

Until the trip's over and I can go home. And finally get some rest.

2 comments:

Celeste said...

Hey, Steve!

I'm sure glad you like to write because I love to laugh. Thanks for making my days more entertaining!

Selma said...

Steve--really got a good laugh; thank you; so true!!