01 January 2007

Gall-A-Day Inn

Greetings and a Happy Ought-Seven to everyone out there in blogland.

I remember saying at first that our room for Christmas at the Holiday Inn of Troy, Alabama was "nice enough." Methinks I might've spoken too soon. For starters, while the room itself has seen remodeling since 1966 (the year it opened), I'm convinced the beds in the room are 41-year-old classics. I should've noticed this while I was sitting on the bed using our laptop, but evidently not. Sleeping with Seraphim on these beds was akin to spending a relaxing night on a trampoline. She rolls over, my face goes straight into the popcorn ceiling above. And vice versa.

The bathroom was little better. My love for things nostalgic (such as the round, flat light globe -- classic mid '60s Holiday Inn) was no match for the poor shower in there. Having to bathe in Troy, Alabama water ... so soft as to make a baby's butt feel like sandpaper, and more lead than a tank of 1971 Super Shell gasoline ... was bad enough, but having to endure pressure drops every time someone in that building so much as flushed their toilet! I mean, aren't motel rooms each supposed to have their own water 'circuit', so to speak?? I've never encountered such a thing at any other motel, not even the $29 room I had at the Opelika MOTEL 6 several years ago!

Christmas morning was another matter. My mother put us here because the Holiday Inn had a hot breakfast buffet, as opposed to the more "continental breakfast" served next door at the Holiday Inn Express. She has this hangup about motel breakfasts. I mean, come on -- they always cheap out on these things. Always.

Now Seraphim's not as picky about 'em as I am (she actually ate those goll-durned "farm fresh eggs" at the Hampton Inn back in Pittsburgh), but she understands my simple philosophy regarding breakfasts while on the road: "That's why God invented IHOP!!!" Breakfast is a meal where I don't like to dilly-dally around. I tend toward the 'picky eater' side of the room, and mornings are when I feel LEAST adventurous. Every IHOP has the Breakfast Sampler. And, if we're in an area not served by the Worldly Structure of Flapjacks, I'll gladly settle for a Denny's, a Perkins, or another family-style restaurant that isn't Shoney's. All have good breakfasts, and -- most importantly!! -- consistency. You know what you're getting at an IHOP, whereas in a motel, you're at the mercy of each franchisee. Stale cereal from a dispenser. OJ with more pulp than juice. Rubber biscuits. Boca (i.e. "Farm Fresh") Eggs. And you really can't bitch to the management because it's "free."

As you can tell, I'm digressing again. After waking up Christmas morning, Seraphim went to the restaurant area to procure the "hot breakfast", and -- awesomely sweet wife she is -- liberate some bacon, if they have it, for her husband back in the room.

Merry Christmas! No bacon! In fact, no hot breakfast at all! Just a lousy "continental breakfast." What's more, they were not allowing folks to take a plate back to their rooms! All had to be consumed in the dining area. There was another traveler staying there -- poor thing, she had to go back to her room and wake her kids and bring them, both still in their pajamas, to the dining room so they all could have breakfast. She asked for mercy. The woman working the desk denied her request.

That's downright shitty. Especially on Christmas Day. Yes, I know people should have time off to spend with their families. A lot of businesses have the luxury of being able to close shop on the 25th. But some lines of work require people to be there even on The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Radio stations, for instance. I've worked many, MANY 12/25 days in my career, as have others in my field. Comes with the territory.

But more important than radio, there's roadside service establishments -- restaurants, gas stations and motels. People DO travel on Christmas Day. Some, indeed, do not celebrate the holiday, so it's just another page on the calendar. Those who are out and about on Christmas Day deserve at least a skeletal infrastructure. Motels, of all places, should have a hot breakfast available -- even if it IS "farm fresh eggs." Don't just haul out the lukewarm Minute Maid and day-old cinnamon rolls and bark at the weary travelers, "YA GOTTA EAT 'EM RIGHT HERE!"

I'm sure that experience gave this lady a great impression about the city of Troy, Alabama, too. The staff was very indifferent and borderline hostile, too. Just the right impression to give travelers along US-231, a major arterial highway connecting I-65 and I-10. Midwest snowbirds drive through Troy en route to their Florida destinations. Does the city of Troy care about these impressions? I doubt it. As long as 231 is lit up like a football stadium (as their illustrious mayor wanted), nothing else matters. Just enough bling to dazzle the Yankees as they head toward their rendezvous with palm trees, Cubans and speed traps.

Yes! Image over substance! That's my Troy! "Golly, what beautiful nighttime streetlights. I must stop my travels, send for all my stuff, and relocate to Troy at once. I wonder if Wiley Sanders is hiring?"

It's a long way from nicer times in Troy, when I entered the city in the front seat beside Gran Lera as she's driving us into town for one of my periodic visits. Rounding the curve on 231 beside the Pike Pioneer Museum, and being greeted with a beautiful evening sight: the Holiday Inn "Great Sign", all lit and pulsating, atop the hill before us.

The Great Sign is gone. So is Gran Lera. All that's left is sad and decrepit waste and squalor.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Give me Motel 6 over Holiday Inn any day" Gleck

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