Friday, September 24, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Sandman Motel

I think there is a special kind of horror you can experience only upon having to sleep in a substandard hotel. It is one thing to ride on a smelly bus or use a gross bathroom. It is quite another to walk into a room, be disgusted by it, and then have to embrace it as your place of repose for the night.

I've stayed in a lot of crappy motels in my life - mostly in the Middle East - but I have to say that the one legendary, ultimate bad motel was in Montana, somewhere. I've forgotten exactly where. I've also forgotten where, in my memory of it, reality ends and childhood exaggeration begins.

I do know for sure that we were in Montana because my dad was participating in a long-distance bike ride of some kind and my family went along for fun. We got to one little town in the middle of nowhere (which is saying a lot for Montana) and there were two hotels there. One (I still remember this) was romantically called The Nez Perce Inn. That's probably all you need to know about how classy that hotel was. Its parking lot was filled with Subaru Outback-type cars and trim, newish sedans. That hotel was full.

So our family went to the other hotel in town. It was called The Sandman. And that's probably all you need to know about how classy THAT hotel was. Here's what I remember about it. Keep in mind that I was a young child at the time so some of these may be unintentional exaggerations. MAY be. Anyway:

- Some of the rooms' windows were cracked and had holes or chunks of missing glass in them.

- The decor colors were lime green and yellowish brownish orange.

- There were ladybugs ALL OVER THE ROOM.

- One of the doors had a gunshot hole in it. I swear this is true.

- Let's just say there weren't any trim, newish sedans in the parking lot. Let's also just mention that our family's huge, white trash, red striped shoebox-on-wheels van fit riiiiiight in.

- My parents would usually have let a couple of us kids sleep on the floor to save space but in this hotel it was not deemed sanitary enough.

- I was genuinely distressed to stay in that hotel. No matter how many times my parents laughed and said it was an adventure, I didn't believe them because I was too busy being afraid. I think it had something to do with a misplaced childhood perception that the Sandman himself would come to the hotel and wreak some kind of sand-based havoc on all the guests.

We survived our stay there, but the legend of The Sandman's horrors has only grown over the years.

I meant to talk about some of the other bad places I've stayed but I think I'll save them for another time. Here's a teaser: have you ever stayed in a hotel so bad that the only sign indicating it is there is that its name is spray-painted on the alley wall? I have.
I'll leave you with that, until next time.

6 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

Oh, this is awesome. I have some disgusting hotel stories as well. I am so excited to hear more of yours. :)

Sarah Familia said...

Wow, this post really brought back some memories of mine too. I think my worst was a hut on a tiny island in the Philippines. The electricity was off for hours every day, the water from the faucet was brackish, and a German disco blared four feet from our back wall till two a.m. while the revelers' cigarette smoke drifted in our window.

Craig said...

The Sandman was in Wisdom, Montana, and it was summer of 1993. I think you are confusing the ladybugs with a motel we stayed at in Forks, Washington (before the Twilight craze). You left out the part about the kitchen sink not having a trap, so the sewer smells came right up into the room. And the "petting zoo" in the yard with exotic animals.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

The Nez Perce wasn't really classy, it just appeared so when compared w/ the Sandman. It was like a Motel 6. Nice thing about staying in the Sandman is that now you have a lowest common denominator that makes every other place look good. Except the Umn Qais . . . . never mind, will leave that for your next post.

Anonymous said...

"The Hospitality Inn" Jacksonville, Florida 1994. I was with friends of my parents and they booked the hotel sight unseen soley on the fact that it was close to the shipyard where they planned to meet up with their son who would be docked there for only one day. Anyhow, we got in there around 9 or 10 PM...as we got closer I noticed the neighborhood was less and less ummm...normal. Bars on the windows, gangs of teens on the corners, prostitutes, etc. Arrived at the hotel and there were bums sleeping in the lobby. I was ready to leave then, but this was before cell phones and my parents were supposed to meet us there when they got in around midnight. We had to pretty much stay put. (I hoped we would be alive by then) We were the only "white" people in sight...the guy at the desk told us not to go out and looked at us like we were half crazy. There was police tape across the litter-filled swimming pool and blood stains spattered all over the inside of the elevator. Our room--dirty sheets, brown water, one towel... etc. I didn't sleep all night. Pretty much sat there and wondered if our car in the garage would still be there or at least have tires when we left the next morning. My parents arrived and were equally shocked, but we decided it was better to stay in than go out until morning. "Hospitality Inn" is also now a big family joke... but it still creeps me out. Sarah

Bridget said...

Sarah, that sounds TERRIBLE. And familiar, unfortunately (our experience like that was in Cairo).

And other Sarah, woah. I would have been out of there in a second but I see what you mean about the no cell phone thing. Why do the worst hotels always have the most memorable names?

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