2013-08-15 / Views

From the Braver Institute

As regular readers may recall, a couple of weeks ago I set out with my good friend Wayne Genghis on a trip across the U.P. and northern Wisconsin on a business/golfing excursion.

We left Saturday morning and golfed in Escanaba and Norway. After that we continued on to Minocqua, Wisconsin to dine at one of the finest eating establishments I have ever darkened the door of.

It was late when we left the restaurant and Minocqua being a tourist town, and it being a Saturday night, all of the motels in the area were booked.

Since we had to be in Ironwood on Sunday morning we decided that we would make the drive there and find a room. Ironwood isn’t quite as touristy in the summer, surely there would be a room.

You most likely already know where this story is going so I will just cut to the chase; everything was booked (at least those places that were listed online) in Ironwood too. There had been a motel in Hurley, Wisconsin that had vacancy, but when we pulled up to the office there was a sign on the door that said you could check in at the bar next door. I told Wayne that I will sleep in the car before I spend a night in a motel that is owned by a bar in Hurley, Wisconsin.

Driving through Ironwood, we started looking for a mom and pop motel. By that time it was midnight local time, which meant it was 1 a.m. our time. We were getting tired, and the idea of sleeping in the car started looking more and more like a reality.

Just as I was resigning myself to the idea, Wayne said that there was a place just up ahead that he had stayed at years ago and was so happy to leave the place never to return. As luck would have it, the vacancy sign was lit.

Wayne went into the office to inquire about a room. After what seemed an eternity he returned and said that we were in room three. He walked to the room while I parked the car.

Stepping into the room I was reminded of images I’ve seen of the homes of peasants who lived in Eastern Bloc countries. This room was kind of deluxe as far as fleabags go. Not only did it have two beds and a tv, it also had a stove, microwave, a small refrigerator and a small table with two chairs facing each other. Looking at the table I couldn’t help but think of two people staring at each other over bowls of potato soup with a program about Russian farm tractors playing on the tv in the background.

I remember the first fleabag I stayed in. It was in Middletown, California. I was out there with my dad when he was a truck driver, back when I was a kid. We had been hanging out for a week at the foot of a mountain, waiting for the owner of the exploratory drilling company he worked for to get all of the gear he needed to ship loaded up. My dad sent me back to town one night with the guys from the drill crew so I could stay with them and take a shower. On the ride to town the guy I was riding with talked about how you know you are staying in a bad motel when you leave the lights off for a few minutes and when turn them on again cockroaches go scurrying for the corners. He said that there is nothing you can do to keep them from crawling on you at night and you just get used to the idea.

Back to room three in Ironwood. In spite of appearances otherwise, the bedding looked clean and I was tired. Soon the cheerlessness of the room would be hidden by darkness and my eyelids—or so I thought.

A few moments after I shut my eyes I was reawakened by the sound of someone opening the storm door on the neighboring room. I was surprised at how loud it was. It sounded like it might be the door on our room. I started fumbling for the light by my bed. At the moment I turned it on our door opened up and closed again just as quickly. I jumped out of bed and went to the door. Wayne’s bed was on the far end of the hovel. He thought I had been making all of the noise.

I could still hear the person outside struggling against the storm door. I opened the main door a crack. A young disheveled looking man stood outside and said “This is the room the guy told me to take.” In a half-awake, un-polite, half-growl I simply said “No” and shut the door.

I made the mental observation that I didn’t see any cockroaches running for the corners when I turned the light on. I went back to my bed and never gave another thought to the guy outside the door.

I slept soundly all night.

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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by e-mail at waye@braverinstitute.com. Visit the Braver Institute at www.braverinsitute.com

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