Before a motorcycle accident and a plant closing imposed a higher level of poverty, I was fortunate enough to accompany my brother three successive years, on nine-day trips to Florida. With little over a week available, we made the first road-trips down and back in 24-hour marathon runs. The second year he wanted to go, I was on a day-shift, done work at 3 P.M. He talked his employer into letting him off on a Friday afternoon at the same time.
He gassed his van up and drove south two hours to pick me up. I was packed and ready and standing at the curb at 5 P.M. I don’t think the vehicle even came to a complete stop. I waved goodbye, tossed my suitcase in, and did a running, Pony Express mount.
Less than four hours later, we were ready to cross the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. At that time of night, customs wasn’t busy, and we were soon on I-75, heading for Toledo. We drove through Ohio, crossing the river at Cincinnati, and on into Kentucky. I don’t know why he wanted to leave Friday night. We’d both been up for 18 hours, and had at least another 18 hours of travel ahead of us. Sleepy drivers fall off roads. I told him that I would pay for a motel room as soon as he could find one. Before long, a Motel 8 hove into view out of the dark.
By now, it was well past midnight. We registered and went to our room. I pulled the drapes tightly shut. We were on the west side of the building, and I didn’t think we’d be there long enough for a rising sun to be a problem. We both threw ourselves into bed. I turned out the lights, and I think I was asleep before the room got dark.
As usual, my bladder set a four-hour alarm. I came awake and looked at the clock. Sure enough, it read 4:59. Now, the brother is an early riser, often out of bed by this time, or even earlier, but yesterday was a big day. If I don’t wake him, I might get at least another hour or two of sleep. I carefully pulled back the covers and quietly slid out of bed.
Apparently the walls of the motel were made of inferior grade cardboard. We were half a mile above the highway, but I could hear the big-rigs going past. I slowly pussy-footed toward the washroom in the dark. When the wife and I travel, we take along a little night-light. With the drapes drawn, in the immortal words of my old shop teacher, it was darker than the inside of a pig’s ass.
I silently reached the bathroom, closed the door, and turned on the light so that the maid didn’t have to mop up my miscalculation. I ain’t sittin’ down; I don’t care what you say! I turned the light back off and waited a few seconds for my vision to adjust. Fat lot of good that did. I’ve been down in a cave that was barely darker than this room.
With my left hand on the bathroom wall, I edged my way back towards my bed. Suddenly, I found that the maid had left the garbage pail just a little farther out from under the desk than I remembered. My right foot came forward and, like trying for a football field-goal, I hoofed it a good one. I thought I broke a couple of toes. The pail left the floor, clanged off the wall, ricocheted off the end of the dresser, and clattered to the floor. Damn! That worked out so well.
Instantly, the brother was awake! What time is it?? Five o’clock! Hell, might as well be on the road as here. We tossed back on, what few clothes we’d taken off, and I went to the office and checked us out. I guess motel clerks get to see it all. The same young guy who checked us in barely raised an eyebrow, five hours later, when we left.
Not exactly the Ritz-Carleton, the place cost me $60 for four hours rack-time. Fifteen bucks an hour, a resident hooker should have been involved. The brother brought the van around and we headed a little further up the side road to a 24-hour gas station. Refueled, and just a little fuzzy around the edges, by six A.M. we were already a lot closer to Atlanta than we had been.
We reached the brother’s place in Florida in time for a late supper, rather than an early breakfast. We stopped at a nearby Subway outlet. I perused the menu board, trying to decide how hungry I was. They offered six-inch subs, and twelve-inch subs, so I decided on a twelve-inch, tuna sandwich. In a full Southern drawl, the young female clerk asked, “Is that like a foot-long?” What are they teaching Southern belles these days? “Yes, Scarlett! That’s like a foot-long.”
We got a full night’s sleep, instead of losing most of Sunday catching up. Anything that doesn’t kill you….can be put into a blog post, and laughed about later. Next trip, we bring along the brother’s friend Norm. You’ll like Norm. He can outwit scrambled eggs.