I never dreamed of living in a motel. Then my husband had surgery, and the doctor told us we’d need to move 278 miles away for a period of five weeks to be near the hospital. Suddenly visions of room service danced in my head. I’ve only known one man, Stu (not his real name), who lived in a hotel. Stu moved into a big hotel downtown with a ballroom and a red-carpeted staircase. He dreamed of becoming a movie star and didn’t want to deny himself the finer things of life. When Stu’s money ran out, he borrowed more.
Reportedly, Stu spent many hours in the hotel hot tub waiting for the call from Hollywood.
But motels are mainly built for transient customers. The word “motel” is a combination of “motor” and “hotel” and came into common parlance in the 1920’s when people began traveling around in their new horseless carriages. Motels were never meant to be homes. When my husband first got the word that a temporary relocation was in our future, I searched for vacation rentals, Airbnb’s, and apartments. It was only when I lowered my standards from “looking-for-a home” to “looking-for-a bed” that I found a reasonably priced motel room we could live in.
You may be wondering, what’s it like to live in a motel? Tight, it’s tight.
Motels are not for the obese. Or clumsy. If you have great coordination, maybe not elite athlete level, but still you’re flexible enough to move between beds, desks, and sundry other furniture squeezed into a 14 by 12 space—you’re gold. I am not an elite athlete, but I’m coordinated enough to do the salsa. This talent, I’m convinced, has helped me avoid serious injury in our motel room.
Motel living presents other challenges too. With only a microwave and a mini-fridge for kitchen appliances, your menu suddenly becomes very limited. I’m here to tell you there’s a reason frozen entrees are called that. If you don’t microwave them a minute more than the package directions, these meals are so icy your teeth can’t “entrée” them. That’s why we’ve been eating a lot of take-out–and having a lot of take-out, fall out, of the mini-fridge.
I try not to think about all the people that have stayed in our motel room before us.
Still, my eyes glide dubiously over the bed coverlet. I glare suspiciously in the bathtub. Yesterday when I swam in the motel pool, a large hairy man with pimples on his back was in the pool with me. The thought crossed my mind that this man is probably not unlike many who’ve slept in my motel bed. Slept and farted on my mattress. That’s the thing about living in a motel room. Of course people have dragged their crusty skin and weeping sores (of indeterminate origin) across your bed.
Still, I’ve tried to comfort myself with how fresh and clean our motel room smells. It doesn’t smell like foot fungus. Then I passed the housekeeper’s cart loaded with linens, towels, and cleaning products. I noticed instead of multiple bottles of bleach or disinfectant in the cart, several bottles of room deodorant. Room deodorants, for the uninitiated, are chemical sprays meant to mask offensive odor more than kill the bacteria that caused it. So our room may smell like a rose, but no doubt there’s bugs on the stem.
And that’s another risk of motel rooms: bed bugs.
Surely you say, this problem is found only in third world countries where donkeys rule the road. No, according to www.travelpulse.com at least 45% of hotels IN AMERICA have faced legal action over bed bugs. That’s enough information to keep me squirming on our motel bed for hours. My farmer husband says sleeping with me is like sleeping with a cow dog who keeps circling the gunny sack in an effort to get comfortable.
I’m not a cow or a dog, but I can say after two weeks in a motel, home on the range sounds much better than home in a motel room.
Image credit: El Rancho Motel Image credit: Diana Hooley Image credit: Diana Hooley