Every five minutes, more accurate than a snooze button, the air conditioner kicking on and off woke him up. It didn’t matter how much he fiddled with it the night before, he couldn’t turn it off permanently, or even on permanently for that matter. It was the noise more than the temperature that bothered him.
And every time he woke up, that smell washed over him all over again. It couldn’t be adequately described using the adjectives of the English language but spoiled, rotten, and putrid all came to mind.
To top it off the blankets were itchy and the pillows too small. His head would fall between two, which would muffle the sound of the AC eternally kicking on and off, but he would also be in danger of suffocating himself with memory foam. And, a few times, he wondered if the smell might even be coming from the pillows themselves.
After twenty minutes spent unpacking and settling into the room for the night, he couldn’t take it anymore. He had gone down to the front desk and requested a room change, citing his lengthening list of complaints. The ancient woman sitting behind the desk for the duration of the night shift, asked him to repeat himself several times before she realized her hearing aid was on the desk next to her well-worn romance novel and her thick reading glasses. She explained that there were no rooms available to move him into unless he paid extra.
He couldn’t bring himself to pay extra. The office would only compensate him for the rate he was already paying and he wasn’t going to shell out his own money to a hotel that couldn’t bring itself to use simple air freshener. He stormed back to his room where he tossed and turned the rest of the night.
In the morning he packed everything back into his car before taking a look at the breakfast spread near the lobby. At least the food looked good. But halfway to his table with a plate of pastry, eggs, and bacon in one hand and a cup of bitter but better than nothing coffee in the other he spied a line of ants working their way back and forth across the lobby to the food table and bringing crumbs back to their queen. He took a sip of the coffee and dumped it along with the plate into a nearby trash bin.
It was time to check out and he prepared a little speech for the receptionist, determined to take out the night’s disappointments of the old woman. He was past caring that she was old. She probably wouldn’t even be able to hear him ranting anyway.
Behind the desk the crone had disappeared. Instead there was a bubbly young woman with a sugary smile and gentle eyes.
“I hope you enjoyed your stay here with us and we hope you’ll think of joining us again next time you’re in town.”
“Oh, yes. I will.”