chapter 1: the trip

i went out to cedar rapids this last week for more work related fun. before i left colorado, a guy from the company where i was going, asked if i had hotel reservations…hmm. i wonder why he asked that, he never cares about my trip? well, it turned out that after cedar rapids was hit by massive flooding last month, it’s been very difficult to get rooms. i’m not sure if displaced families are taking all the rooms, cleanup workers, or maybe just stupid misguided tourist, out to take pictures of the flood damage.

one of my coworkers ended up getting us all rooms at the cedar rapids howard johnsons. it was kind of difficult to find because it was already dark when we showed up and their light was out. kind of odd for a hotel to have lighting problems, especially since it’s near a major road way. i wonder if they turn on automatically or the hotel “manager” turns them on. anyway, we walk into the front lobby, which looks like a small decrepit vacant version of a holliday inn…express. after squeezing past the the pamphlet rack near the front door you will quickly notice the security monitor right on the counter top, facing out toward the customer. weird… it was showing almost the exact thing that i could see anyway. they might as well of had the camera mounted on my head, it wasn’t switching from different cameras or anything like that…just one view. there were a couple other security devices like those found in a 7-11, like a round fish-eye mirrors at all the corners, locked bathroom doors, and signs about money in the register…. the only thing they were missing was a height chart at the door.

chapter 2: “eintsein”

just as you walk in you could almost see down the main hallway. it’s not that the hallway wasn’t in plain view, it’s just that it was so dark and narrow with 7 foot ceilings, almost no lighting. it looked like a mind shaft, with crappy carpet. i wouldn’t be surprised if rabid bats flew out. another interesting thing, was that the employee side of the counter was actually larger than the customer’s side. they must have about 50 people working there or something.

when we walked in, a seemingly normal young guy, with an over manicured beard showed up behind the vast employee side of the counter. right off the bat, he looked confused as to why we were there. he opened his mouth. he had this “professional” voice where he kind of sucked in his chin, and tried to talk deeper than normal. i could tell that every word that came out of his mouth was processed and iterated over and over by his mighty brain, until he eventually formed sentences that he thought sounded “well articulated.”

“what can i do for you today”

my first thought was, “you could start by turning on the hotel sign outside, and while your at it, please turn on the hallway lights, or replace some bulbs or something…jeeze!

we informed him the we had three reservations, and we wanted to check in. he kind of stuttered and looked a bit troubled. he was standing in front of a really old computer was making lots of noises as if he just passed gas or something. we couldn’t tell if he was having trouble with the “reservations” or just the hotel software. this is probably what the software looked like, and why it was giving him so much trouble:


[he couldn’t find our room?]

after about 5 minutes of grunts and sighs, and facial expressions, he finally returned back to the conversation, “you guys are really lucky…we are overbooked and i’ve only got 4 rooms left.” then he informed us that he will have to turn people away tonight, if he runs out of rooms. i guess that’s why there is such a thing as “reservations”

my coworker informed him that two of the rooms should be non-smoking and one doesn’t matter. he said that he only had smoking rooms available, but he would try to knock off 10 dollars from the nightly rate. after several more minutes of noises expressing confusion, and matching twisted facial expressions…he finally announced, “i can’t do it ‘right’ now, but as soon as i can, i will change the rate for you” [not surprisingly, we never got the discount].

then “einstein” started verifying the bed counts for the rooms. we told him don’t worry about it, we each need just one bed in our rooms. then … he paused what he was doing; with a look on his face as if he just invented cake frosting, he started to speak. this time, however, his excitement must have locked up his internal “word forming” part of his brain and he was forced to form his sentences out loud….in front of all of us.

“um… i don’t know how… well, i have a question…or more of a suggestion …uh.. request…let me see, how can i phrase this…it would really help me out. .. um, since you guys only need one bed, would you be willing to share the room with two beds?”

my coworker said, “no”

“um, ok, i just thought i would ask because it would really help me out tonight.”

then he starts talking about the rooms again, and how he’ll give us the rooms, and how he’ll take off 10 dollars a night, since we “were being so cool” about everything.

the whole check in took about 20minutes longer than it should have. no fault of the 2800 baud modem he used to charge the card.

chapter 3: the hotel … part 2.

howard johnson’s…”where you feel at home.” at least that’s what their stationary reads. i can say without hesitation, that this place did not feel like home. i can say that this place felt like a sweaty locker room for the cheap cigarette smoking convention.

if you go to the howard johnson website, it seems as though howard johnson’s is trying to be hip and modern. they started refering to themselves as “hojo’s.” this hardly seems appropriate in a business context. if my boss asks me where i ended up staying…what am i supposed to say? “i stayed at the hojo’s…bee-ach!”

if the customers are any indication of how classy a hotel is…then this hotel must be one step up from prison. the cars in the parking lot are not at all like the lot at the holiday inn express. the holiday inn express, or ho-in-ex [pronounced: ‘ho-in-ex’], has a parking lot, which consist of 90% rental cars, and 10% family travelers. the hojo’s on the other hand, consist of 40% severely damaged beaters and the other 50% were jalopies with minor damage, and the remaining 10% were rentals from suckers like us who didn’t plan far enough ahead to get in at the ho-in-ex. another interesting statistic to the parking lot is that 10% of the cars had people sleeping in them…guess “einstein” gave away their reservations.

chapter 4: house keeping

there was a sign in the bathroom, that warned people about stealing. i’m really glad that sign was there, because i was thinking to steal this decrepit age worn sand paper like disease spreaders…aka “linen”.


funny that they are so worried about missing/stolen towels, because when “house keeping” finally cleaned my room, they removed all but one small wash towel from the room. wtf? i came back from a long sweaty day at work and just wanted to take a shower before dinner. then i noticed that none of my towels were replaced. i called the front desk and a guy answered the phone, “howard johnson’s… how can i help you?” i could tell it was “einstein”.

i said, “yeah…, is there any reason all my towels were removed from my room?”

einstein enounced, “no there isn’t, but i will bring you up some right now. ” [note: i was on the first floor.]

i said, “ you know what room i’m in?”

einstein phrased, “yes, you are in room 122.”

i said to myself,”then why the f#$% did you answer the phone ‘howard johnsons?’ are some of the phones hooked up to the clarion across the street?”

so in my stinky “smoking” room i waited for the towels… 15 minutes passed as i waited for a knock on the door. i gave up and decided to walk “down” to the front desk. hmm…no one is behind the counter. i yelled out, “hello!” then einstein comes out from the back room…

“can i help you?” [i’m supprised he didn’t say, “howard johnson’s can i help you”].

“yeah, i need some towels!”, i exclaimed.

“oh…uh.. they are actually still in the wash… that’s how back up house keeping is…”, he said with a look as if he too was staying at the hotel, and his towels were missing too.
is that supposed to make me more understanding? am i supposed to say, “no worries, i’ll just shower whenever house keeping is less backed up….thanks”

i mumbled to myself, “then what the hell did they take them for? …and why the hell didn’t he tell me that on the phone!”. so i went back to my room and pulled out my camping chamois that i happened to carry with me [i don’t know why i brought this with me]. i hope they don’t try and charge me for those stupid towels.

chapter 5: wtf?

the size of the bathroom is about the length of a tub, and about the width of two tubs. the tub and toilet occupy about 3/4 of the floor space, and the rest is left for the inward swinging door. only, the door does not swing open all the way because of the giant full size ironing board hanging across from the toilet. so i don’t know about the rest of the guests in the hotel, but i don’t even get towels and shampoo, i smell like like a hundred years of cigarette smoke… why do i care about how wrinkled my clothes are? i just hope this freakin’ iron doesn’t fall on me. if ironing is such a big deal why don’t they add it to their unlit sign?

howard johnson’s

“continental breakfast”

“cable tv”

“ironing boards”.