By Todd Lancaster
President Calvin Coolidge required very few things to live a quiet lifestyle, even while he lived in the White House, where he famously said, “There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.”
What President Coolidge and his wise words might have missed while quietly sitting on a rocker and blissfully taking in the foliage, were the even wiser words of noted modern philosopher Todd Lancaster who recently checked in to a “within my means” $39 motel and asked, “Should there be this many bloodstains on the carpet?” or “You get what you pay for, dumbass.”
Not long ago I had the chance to take a last-minute trip to spend time with both some old friends and my daughter at the IU-Purdue game. When my wife asked me where I was staying, I assumed I would stay in my daughter’s apartment just off-campus. I assumed it wouldn’t be a problem, as not unlike a hotel room I had paid for it as well. However, my wife said the last thing my daughter would want was to have her father as a “roomie” even if it were only for a few hours and I should just get a hotel. So we scoured the internet, but much to my chagrin, every room in West Lafayette was booked and those across the river had tripled in price.
However, there was one motel that was not only available; there were plenty of vacancies and the cost was basically the same as two cups of Starbucks venti cappuccinos and a blueberry scone (which I hoped would be a part of the continental breakfast spread). So just like that, I booked it in spite of the concerned look my wife gave me all the way out the door.
When I arrived at the Purdue Memorial Union where my friends were STAYING, I sat down to a magnificent breakfast at a place that recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. The hotel rooms were beautiful; all of the restaurants were top notch and each of the new bars featured mixologists who were most likely moonlighting as chemical engineers. As the day wore on, I wondered which of my friends were going to offer their spare five-star bed, so I didn’t have to journey across town to what I was quickly becoming concerned might not be the five-star accommodations I had experienced all day.
As I headed to a part of Lafayette I was unfamiliar with, I arrive at my GPS destination for what appeared to be a long line of storage lockers, but I wouldn’t be so lucky. As I checked in I was greeted by a man in a rubber apron, which I thought was odd attire for an innkeeper, but not unusual for someone about to slaughter a hog or perhaps be putting the finishing touches on a new crystal meth recipe. He didn’t want to see any ID, but did ask what my blood type was and if I had two working kidneys, just before handing me a key to a room he promised was a “good one.”
As I breached the threshold of my temporary abode, I knew it was a “good one” because it came pre-equipped with an abandoned crack baby, instead of the lower-priced “dead hooker” suite. Few of the lights worked and I believe the television was a 27” Curtis Mathis from 1981 that had permanent Spanish subtitles. The furnishings looked like they were designed by a North Korean interrogation team, which is to say had a” minimalist” feel to it. There were several holes in the bathroom walls that looked like they were designed to be just big enough for camcorders to be mounted from the next room. Both the bed and the bath were equally deplorable; luckily, the one towel provided was folded — I assume by the previous guest.
After a blissful 11 minutes of sleep, I left as soon the sun came up (which I assume gave the next group of guests plenty of time to set up for the snuff film they would be shooting later that day).
As I left, I noticed someone was kind enough to leave a pair of women’s black underwear just outside of my door, greeting me like a wet-nosed Labrador retriever or fresh copy of USA Today. Needless to say, I did not stay for coffee.
I realized at that point I had spent the night at the Hotel California, where I could check out, but I knew I could never. Next time I’ll be listening to Todd Lancaster when he says, “You get what you pay for, dumbass.”