Now that you might be quarantined for the entire length of your journey, cruising doesn’t sound as much fun as it used to. I must admit, however, my worst cruise experience happened before the cruise began.
Sis and I flew to Fort Lauderdale during spring break. We arrived at midnight along with a jillion college kids who were looking for the nearest wet t-shirt contest. Sis and I, on the other hand, planned to overnight at a hotel, then escape via cruise ship the next day.
Midnight at the airport, right? The hotel lost our reservation. There were no vacancies to be had, not even with all those kids on the beach. Sis suggested to the one cruise employee we could locate, “Find us a room or your Floridian chads will be dangling from the traffic control tower.”
Turns out Cruise Guy had a list of hovels for just such an emergency. He found us a vacancy. I wasn’t naïve about this. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. But it was just one night. We caught a cab just outside the airport. The cabbie swore in words that made even a potty mouth like me blush. Apparently, the neighborhood was not one you frequented unless armed with bazookas. Nonetheless, he dropped us in front of the motel and fled.
How many 1940s detective books have you read? Or film noirs have you seen? This was the prototype motel for every one of them: the neon sign buzzing, the ice machine humming, the slowly circulating fan, the fat lady at the desk.
We’re in our blingy cruise garb.
“Want that Manny helps with the luggage? I’ll go unleash him,” said the lady.
“Good grief, no! Not Manny! Not at 1 am! Wouldn’t want to be a bother. We’ll haul our own bags, thank you kindly,” said I.
We lugged everything up the stairs and into the room. Then we were faced with the problem of where to put stuff. Neither of us wanted to set anything on the carpet. The room had no glasses, no ice bucket. There was no toilet paper, not even a toilet paper holder. There were plenty of toe nail clippings lying about.
We stripped the beds of anything likely touched by the hourly trade and lay down as stiff as stiffs, trying to draw breath in that wet, fetid Florida air. For the next five hours neither of us actually moved, hoping not to disturb anything else that might be living in that room.
The next morning we escaped to an oceanfront Marriott and pretended to be guests. We hung out until it was time to board the ship. While using the hotel’s internet, I saw a roach crawl away from the vicinity of my tote bag, and scuttle on down the hall.
I can’t be sure, but I believe it was another guest movin’ on up from the Bates Motel.
Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors and author of “Three Bears,” the newest in her Bear Jacobs mystery series, available on Amazon.com or at local retailers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.