Another Funny Hotel Room
I made a two-day school visit last month in Hiawassee, Georgia. I’ve hiked in the north Georgia mountains and looked forward to the trip in this scenic area. When visiting these small towns, I try to support the local businesses. Whenever I can, I book locally owned hotels. I googled and made the call to the hotel on Main Street that was only a mile from the school, and family-owned for 34 years. No one answered. I called frequently and the next day still no one answered. I tried one last time in the evening. A man answered. I told him my business and asked if there was a vacancy on my required days. He said, “She’s not here right now. She’s out to dinner. Call back at 8 o’clock. She’ll be here.” I planned to call at 8, but 5 minutes later my phone rang. “You the one what wants a room next week?” She had vacancy and apologized, “I can’t take your credit card information right now because I’m at the restaurant and don’t have my credit card machine. We can take care of it when you come.” Great. Reservation made.
The day I arrived in Hiawassee it was raining hard, and the fog was heavy. I planned to go directly to the school and set up my displays for the morning. I was almost at the school at 2 o’clock when my hands-free car phone rang. It was a man. “I’m just checking you plan to check in to the hotel today. I’m confirming,” he said. I explained I was already in town and planned to be at the hotel around 3:30. Confirmed.
I left the school, drove to Ingles to pick up my supper (I can’t drive after dark) then drove to the hotel. No one was in the locked office. There was a sign next to the door with a number to call if no one was present. I called the number at 3:30. No one answered. I called the number every 30 minutes until 7 o’clock. I had eaten my supper and finished the book I was reading, and noticed it was now dark. I called the police. I explained it wasn’t an emergency, but I needed two officers, one to drive my car and one to bring him back; I needed to go to another hotel. The policeman arrived with the news that he could not drive my car, nor could he transport me in his. He said, “The woman who owns this hotel just lives at the end of the building. I’ll see if I can find her.” He came back with a scruffy younger man who turned out to be an AT hiker who was staying here. The policeman said the hotel was kind of like a hostel and many hikers stayed here. Tonight there was only one. The hiker said, “She always leaves one room unlocked in case someone comes in late.” He tried all the doors; finally one swung open. “Here. This is your room.” He and the policeman escorted me in. “The door locks from the inside with a key,” the hiker said. “But, I ain’t got a key for it.”
They left, I pushed the chair in front of the door. There was a knock on the door. “It’s me, Honey,” the woman said. “I got you a key.” I let her in, she plopped down on my bed. She asked if everything was alright. I told her the story of the last five hours. She said she was sorry for the misunderstanding. She gave me the key. I didn’t think there was a misunderstanding. I had made a reservation. It was then I learned that her hotel was closed for the season! The next part of the misunderstanding was that since she didn’t have my credit card information, there wasn’t a reservation. I handed her my credit card, reminding her of our conversation. I told her that her employee, a man, had called me at two o’clock to confirm my reservation. She said she doesn’t have any man working for her. She didn’t want my credit card because she only takes cash! She said because of my inconvenience she would only charge me $50 for the night. She left. I rinsed the dead bugs and webs out of the bathtub and took a shower. I turned off my phone and set the alarm. In the morning I noticed I’d received a call at 12:35 AM from the now familiar number. Who called me? The same man who doesn’t work here? I pulled a $20 bill out of my book bag, wrote her a quick note and left it with the key by the office door.
At the school, the librarians were aghast at my story. One said, “Wait right here!” She was back in ten minutes. “You have a free room tonight at the Holiday Inn Express. Give them this note and you’re good to go.” It was a very nice room. With breakfast. And warm cookies. It’s funny; now.