Saturday, February 23, 2013

In A "Days"

The busy Walnut Avenue exit off Interstate 75 welcomes us to Dalton, Georgia. Shortly past sunset, headlights form a wavering white streak along the hilly, four-lane thoroughfare. Colorful neon lights illuminate a rocky, mountainous landscape dominated by motels, restaurants, super-sized filling stations, and in this, the carpet capital of the world, rug stores. We pull in at 6:05 local time to the Days Inn, a finalist on my researched and prepared list of satisfactory north Georgia accommodations.

Pictures provided by management to online hotel sites show a spacious, almost elegant, lobby. Indeed, there’s plenty of space occupied by quality furniture. But what appeared on the net to be expertly crafted plaster-work is actually cheap fiberboard in need of a few cosmetic touch-ups. While I don’t consider this misrepresentation, and the durability of the building material will not affect the quality of my overnight stay, I’d say the lobby doesn't do the photographs justice.

We wait behind a drowsy fellow in sagging slacks who requests two rooms. He removes a collection of credit cards from his billfold and scrutinizes each one before pronouncing the MasterCard suitable. Then, as the patient front desk clerk attempts to finalize the transaction, the guest-in-waiting delivers a litany of health and mobility issues that will necessitate a change of rooms. I grow impatient and use the cell to dial the Jameson Inn down the road where rooms rent for $3 more with coupon tonight. The “Dreamium” bedding and homemade waffles appeal to us, so we make the three-minute journey there. The Jameson looks promising, with its almost blinding exterior lights against the white fa├žade. The grounds appear to be well kept. But, while my research indicates otherwise, the room we inspect feels cramped, dated, and dim. We leave without explanation and return to Days Inn.

This time, we encounter a height-challenged drunken guest in a cowboy hat appealing to the desk clerk for an outdoor smokers’ lounge. He solicits my opinion and I agree with the admittedly sane proposition. Smoking, in my non-smoking opinion, is best accomplished out of doors. This motel attracts laborers—many of them smokers—who travel for short-term jobs. This evening, groups of workers who have checked-in loiter on the balconies of this exterior corridor property, for lack of a better place to smoke. Silhouetted by a fluorescent glow, elbows resting on the railing, the men gaze at an endless flow of Walnut Avenue traffic as they puff on cigarettes and pipes.

Other workers assemble in small groups in the lobby, awaiting room assignments. They wear bulky boots, dusty jeans, and forlorn expressions. All of the young men look exhausted and sad, like convicted felons awaiting transport to prison. I assume the separation from wives, children, or sweethearts accounts for the somber scene. Any communication between the workers and the desk clerk is minimal. No smiles are exchanged among them. A slight nod of the head suffices before the clerk slides a keycard across the desk and points to the next customer.

For us, check-in is quick and cordial. Our second floor room, coupon priced tonight at $51.99, faces east and overlooks the parking lot. “We just remodeled six months ago,” the clerk announces, “and everything is new.” Well, the entry door looks old, but the weather-stripping looks new. Already, the carpeting and the furniture appear tattered. The bedding, however, feels plush, the lighting emits a cheerful white glow, and the television and remote cooperate. While I appreciate the fresh, just bleached scent of the towels when I enter the bathroom, I have issues with the toilet paper. It hangs under the roll, so with each tug, the end piece touches the presumably germ infested wall. But it’s good quality paper, and there’s plenty of it. So I’ll forgive this favorably rated and sufficiently clean Days Inn for their toilet paper blunder, even if the quilted sheets refuse to flush down the toilet.
from 2012

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