15 December 2008

You can't always get what you want

It's only fair that Priceline would eventually dump us in some post-apocalyptic tenement camp sooner or later, to appease the hotel gods and karmically account for the palatial accommodations we've been scoring on the cheap for the last month. And what better place to do that than Baton Rouge. In case you were thinking of staying there, here are some observations on the Extended Stay America hotel on beautiful Corporate Blvd.:

Your first impression is the hotel staff. Combative and unfeeling, it's your first encounter with a trend you'll experience fully in your stay in town: nobody cares. Living to fight another day is top priority here, and that doesn't involve making sure your stranger ass is comfortable. The second thing you notice is that your room key doesn't work. You notice this because you can't open the door. So you go back to the front desk. You think about taking the stairs, but you fear you'll run into a week-old corpse, so you don't. Then the third thing you notice is the tawdry, melodramatic porno-style "oh-my-god-yes-don't-stop" moaning coming from room 328. Sure, it's hot, more or less, but it'll give you second thoughts about sleeping in your bed later. The lady shows up to let you in the room, advising that if you need to leave the room at some point, to just prop the door open, it'll be fine, and that's when you're knocked on your back by the fourth thing you notice, which is that the room smells exactly like a Long John Silver's bathroom. Reeks, to the point of suffocation. It's too cold to open the windows, so you turn the wall-unit fan on, until you notice it's full of Chee-tos and cigarette butts, so you turn it off. Then you notice too late that there's no toilet paper, and when you move to call the front desk, you notice the phone doesn't work. Not that you would wanna put your face anywhere near that thing. You look under the bed to make sure it's plugged in, which it is, but you stop looking as soon as you notice one solitary Dorito resting on top of a bar of half-used soap. You're tempted to just wipe your ass on the wall like everyone else seems to have done, in noticing the sixth or seventh thing, which is that every square inch of surface is smeared with traces of past habitation - schmutz, gunk, greasy handprint here, bloody footprint there. You're glad you didn't bring your black light. You turn on the TV with your sleeve and try to tune all this out to what may or may not have been some Sharon Tate B-movie. The cable's kinda scratchy. You notice the smoke detector's been violently pried from the ceiling. You think about the couple in 328, and you think about sleeping on the floor, until you consider the state of the carpet, so you re-consider the bed, and for some reason get so consumed with the whole thing that you check the sheets for bedbugs, and whaddaya know, you find stems of snapped dry spaghetti and hair commingling, and this is why you brought your sleeping bag: to sleep on the bed, in your own sleeping bag. You don't have any choice but to use their pillow, so you suck it up and lie awake, face-up, unable to breathe, because you're sleeping in a Long John Silver's bathroom.

All hope that things will be different in the outside world will be dashed in the morning. At Starbucks, the counter lies beneath a half-inch of standing water, and no one cares. The guy in front of you pleads for them not to make his drink with milk, which elicits the response of "we don't make it with milk, we add it after." The clerk at the convenience store combatively insists that she is not charging you significantly more than the advertised price, doesn't care to check, and doesn't care what you think. You ask the cashier at McDonald's how she's doing, and she looks you dead in the eyes and asks "do you really wanna know?"

You don't need this blog to rehash how and why things reached this point and how to fix them. If you're looking for the short end of the stick, it's here. And really, you can't entirely blame these people for being focused on little more than their own day-to-day survival. Shit's bleak.

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