I remember in the early 1990s when St. Marys favorite baseball son, Galen Cisco, was watching through coach’s eyes his Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alomar crafting what would become a Hall of Fame career, reading about Alomar, who lived where he worked, literally.
The Blues Jays home field, known in those days as Sky Dome, before Rogers Communications bought the stadium and renamed it Rogers Centre, has a hotel with 70 rooms overlooking the baseball field’s surface, and Alomar lived in one of those seventy rooms during the season.
When I read the story, I was still in the midst of my teaching career and not traveling nearly as much for either business or pleasure, and the allure of spending time in a hotel was great for me. Like a lot of us products of a 1960s upbringing, I remember how rare it was for John and Cavell to take my sister Joan and me on the road for a look inside a hotel room. That thrill was pretty much limited to our two-week sojourn back to my father’s Bostonian homelands right after the binds of compulsory education were loosed. Sleeping in a new bed, with not one thought of how many had used that bed before me and whether the sheets had been changed? Wonderful! And using that hotel pool with nary a thought of whether that giggling baby being dipped in by a mom may have gotten so excited something may have happened no diaper could contain? Terrific!
Fast-forward from my initial childhood experiences and beyond, between business travel and leisure, I’m sliding a room card into a slot or, in the case of one of my frequent and favorite stay-over haunts, the Drury Inn and Suites in Dublin, waving it in front of the lock mechanism until a green light appears, 60 or so times a year.
Of course, any activity that has increased in number over time begins to lose a bit of its luster when enough of that old “been there, done that” takes hold. Nonetheless, all in all, I still actually kind of like the whole hotel experience, with its added comforts that have accompanied the industry’s price increases over time.
These days, the mattresses are firmer, a relief from the hammock-like ones of yesteryear, welcomed by those like me with old and balky backs; the television pictures are sharper; and, of course, those breakfasts that never were offered in the 1960s are far more varied and tasty than anything I take time to conjure up at home before heading out the door.
Recently while catching up with an old friend (and I always hesitate using “old” to describe a female friend although this one would never take offense at silly unintended slights), we spoke of the hotel experience.
Ann Falk worked with me one summer in my city of Lima Parks and Recreation days, long before she became what she is now, a senior account executive for Nexus Vision Group. Now, Ann has seen her share of hotel rooms during her business travels. She mentioned those infamous black-light investigations some years ago of what hotel bedspreads revealed. She laughed when I told her I’ve been traveling quite a bit these days and taking off the bedspreads or, more often to quell the concerns of those who read of those black-light revelations, those throws at the very bottom of the beds as a first response before slipping into bed. Her response was humorously cynical, as in, “Better pack some Lysol.”
As for the sheets, I have to trust they’ve been changed prior to my arrival, although I have to tell you about one such time for someone when they weren’t. In early October, at a Quality Inn, in the Upper Rockies just outside of Leadville, Colorado, my Lady Jane after our check-in pulled the spread back of her bed as she always does to eyeball the sheets and discovered a few hairs.
Later when filling out an emailed review of her stay, something Jane loves to do, her summation came with a concise title that’s an excellent refutation of that old saw that you can’t always judge a book by its title.
Surely the good folks at Trip Advisor must have laughed when posting that review masterpiece, one Jane titled, “Five hairs in the bed…Yuck!”
Nonetheless, while I always love coming back home, despite the occasional concerns of life out of a suitcase and that I’ll have one of my own “Five hairs in the bed…Yuck” moments, I really don’t mind my hotel stays. However, unlike Roberto Alomar’s experiences once upon a time, I wouldn’t want to live there, though.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at email@example.com.