My husband likes to stretch a dollar. Some might even call him cheap or a tightwad. For instance, when we travel, he likes to shop around for “budget” hotels. Before a trip, he’ll get those hotel coupon magazines that you see in all the truck stops and scour them for amazing deals.
He’s managed to traumatized all of our children with creepy hotels. For instance there was the time when we were walking into a hotel and Lulu innocently asked here father why the two men were sitting on the curb drinking out of brown paper bags and he replied, “I’m sure they are very nice men.”
Then there was the time when I was fast asleep but had this strange sensation that someone was staring at me. I opened one eye to see Jennifer, Katie and Lulu standing over me all staring at my forehead. Jennifer yelled, “Don’t move mom!”
I ask you, what does one do when three children are standing over you while you’re sleeping and then one of them shouts, “Don’t move mom!”
I didn’t just move, I screamed, bolted out of the bed and ran out of the room butt naked!
Apparently there was a cockroach the size of Godzilla crawling over my face and the girls were trying to figure out how to kill it without waking me!
That wasn’t our only “critter” experience. There was the close encounter with the rat running across the bed and some other incidents that were so traumatizing I think I’ve blocked them from memory. But, there is one hotel hellhole that trumps all the others by far. Let me say that I have not embellished this story one iota. It is told exactly as it happened.
About five years ago, Bill was playing on a men’s tennis team and they made it to the finals which were being played on Longboat Key island about three hours from our house. Bill told me not to worry about a thing because he booked us a room at the “Cadillac Hotel”. The Cadillac hotel sounded like a nice place to me. Besides, it was on a resort island so I figured it had to be fine.
What Bill failed to tell me was that the hotel wasn’t actually “on” the island. It was “close” to the island. The rest of the team and their wives (with the exception of one single guy) were staying “on” the island close to where the tournament was taking place.
As we were getting close to the resort island, Bill handed me the page he tore from one of his coupon books.
“You didn’t tell me the Cadillac Hotel was in the coupon book.” I said as my red alert radar began to kick in.
“Oh, didn’t I?” He replied innocently. “Just tell me the address.”
I looked at torn page and found the postage stamp ad for the Cadillac hotel in the bottom left corner.
“I need a magnifying glass to read this!” I complained. I got out my high powered reading glasses.
“Oh, here’s the address under the beautiful picture of the concrete pool.” I said as the sarcasm oozed from my voice, “1117 MLK Boulevard.”
“Look, we’re only staying one night and Joe’s staying there too.” He said as he turned off the road leading to the island and headed for downtown.
“That’s supposed to make me feel better!” I retorted. “Joe is so cheap he usually sleeps in the back of his truck in the hotel parking lots!”
“Well,” Bill said, “Aren’t we getting hoity-toity! Have you forgotten that we used to do the same thing when we were first married.”
Okay, maybe we did throw the mattress in the back of the pickup and stay in the Holiday Inn parking lot a few times, but that’s when we were broke and it was sort of romantic back then. Now, we could afford to stay in a half way decent place, but I was tired and there were no other hotels in the area since this was the main tourist season. So, I gave in and we found the Cadillac hotel in a rundown section of town just across the street from the Salvation Army thrift store (I don’t believe that was just a “coincidence”). I’d be willing to bet that Bill did a google search for hotels within five miles of thrift stores. We hardly checked in and he was out the door and on his way across the street.
While he was gone, I decided to check out the concrete pool. It was concrete alright - and empty! I returned to the room and turned on the air conditioner which was loud enough to wake the dead. Things started looking up when I discovered that the t.v. worked, and even got four channels. The highlight of the Cadillac hotel was the refrigerator in each room. Our refrigerator even came stocked - with leftover Chinese food and half a beer.
“It doesn’t get any better than this!” I said pointing the leftovers as Bill returned from his Salvation Army jaunt.
“Look, let’s just sleep here tonight and we’ll find a different place in the morning.” He said as he covered the bed with a blanket from our car.
Luckily, Bill and I had brought our own pillows, so we slept fully clothed on top of the blanket from our car. Surprisingly, we both slept soundly through the night. I don’t know if it was the loud drone of the air conditioner or the mental exhaustion, but not even the sounds of the gunfight woke us up!
So, the next morning I woke up early and decided to take a stroll down MLK Blvd., but my walk was cut short when I opened my door to the crime scene tape stretched around the corner room of the Cadillac hotel.
What in God’s name...
My eyes took in the scene. I kid you not - sticking out of the corner room of the Cadillac hotel beyond the crime scene tape was a mangled Cadillac!
We learned from the hotel clerk that, sometime during the night, the person who was involved in the high speed police chase down MLK Blvd. decided the check his Caddy into the Cadillac hotel and proceed on foot behind the hotel (right behind our room). A gun fight ensued and the wounded perp tried to run back to his caddy (which would explain the blood stains all over the parking lot) apparently to try and make his getaway but the car wasn’t budging from its room and the guy was subsequently arrested.
“So, will you be staying with us another night?” The clerk asked as we stood at the counter.
“No.” I replied as I handed him my keys, “My husband booked us a room at the O.K. Corral for tonight.”